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This Start-up Is Looking To Disrupt Institutional Foodtech Space With Digitised Cafeterias Hungerbox partners with food vendors and allows office workers to place orders at their workplace cafeterias using the mobile app and make payments online

By Shreya Ganguly

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Foodtech is an attractive sector today. Several non-food tech players such as Ola, Uber, OYO and Amazon have also entered the space and are trying to strengthen their position. While dominant players in the foodtech market such as Zomato and Swiggy are trying to disrupt the online delivery space, Bengaluru-based Hungerbox is looking to disrupt the institutional foodtech space.

Founded by Sandipan Mitra and Uttam Kumar in 2016, Hungerbox is a full stack B2B food and beverages technology start-up which offer foodtech solutions to corporate cafeterias and food courts. It is a food vendor partner aggregating platform which allows employees to place orders at their workplace cafeterias and make payments online. With this, employees will not be required to stand in queues and wait for their turn to order food.

"There is a certain type food consumption that we do in schools, colleges and office, another kind of consumption from our home, and separate kind of consumption from dining out at restaurants. So, for home delivery, you have companies like Zomato, Swiggy and for table reservation, you have companies like Dine Out, catering to that need. But there was no company that was looking into the institutional food consumption," said Mitra.

What Does Hungerbox Offer?

Mitra forayed into the institutional foodtech space with years of experience in B2C foodtech segment. He had also co-founded the country's first online food ordering portal, Hungryzone, which was later acquired by JustEat Inc and then by FoodPanda.

Through an integrated ISO-certified technology platform, the start-up connects its food partners to end consumers. Users can download the app and sync it with their official accounts and allows them to order food at their workplace cafeterias thereby digitising the process.

Hungerbox is currently available in 18 cities and manages over 550 cafeterias. It has over 126 clients across sectors including companies such as Accenture, Capgemini, HCL Technologies, Wipro, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Tata Motors, ABB, BIAL, mPhasis and Lowe's. It claims to have processed over 50 million transactions and completed 116,300,000 orders since inception.

The Series C stage start-up counts prominent names such as Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys co-founder), Lionrock Capital, Neoplux, Sabre Partners as its investors. According to Mitra, the company manages around 550,000 orders per day.

Expansion Plans

While speaking about his future plans, Mitra explained the start-up aims to expand its services to 28 cities by March 2020. Apart from this, he also added that the company is looking towards sectoral breakout. According to him, not only offices but institutions such as schools, colleges and hospitals face challenges as well. Thus the company is looking to expand offerings in this sectors. "Education sector especially is something that we are extremely excited about. We have closed three top institutions in the country and we are going on for the sector very aggressively along with all the other sectors," said Mitra.

Hungerbox is also looking to expand its services across south-east Asia. "So two-thirds of our clients have presence in the south-east Asia region and we are entering the market with them." Also, Hungerbox is closely working with partner vendors and thus they wish to develop and explore what more value can the platform like them add.

While explaining the difference between Hungerbox and other foodtech players, Mitra said that institutional food tech space requires a "different DNA". "When I'm ordering food online for my residence, it has a different challenge as I'm looking at a delivery infrastructure where someone is picking food from the restaurant and getting it to my residence. In institution, the challenge is different. Before Hungerbox, one had to go to the cafe, stand in queue, move to the counter, etc. So we needed someone to automate this entire process and be able to do all that using phone," Mitra explained.

The Foodtech Space In India

According to several reports quoting an analysis by Deloitte, the Indian online food delivery market for both aggregators and cloud kitchen is expected to become a $5 billion opportunity by the end of 2023.

The growing segment has been attracting huge attention from the start-up ecosystem. Recently in October, several media reports speculated that e-commerce giant Amazon is planning to foray into cloud kitchen segment and launch private food brands in Bengaluru. Amazon may launch its pilot under Amazon Restaurants brand.

In February, media company Entrackr had exclusively reported that OYO had forayed into foodtech and launched over 20 cloud kitchens in Gurugram and Bengaluru.

Shreya Ganguly

Former Features Writer

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