A collection of personal Interviews with celebrated leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate honchos or any success stories.
Foodwalas Bring Authentic Delicacies of Every State at Your Doorstep
Now you could be tasting the tastes of each state sitting at home. Technology and food lovers have come together to give you that experience. The delight is in doing what is so hard to achieve and making it look easy and that is exactly what FoodWalas are upto. Read ON!
Can we get introduced to the Founder of Foodwalas?
Sanjay D. Lalwani, Founder & CEO
Sanjay, Chartered Accountant & Commerce graduated from Symbiosis, Pune. Has over 4 years of experience in Business & Project Management. Prior to foodwalas, he has worked with Varroc Engineering Pvt Ltd, taking care of Plant Finance, apart from working on concept startup with meritranker.com. Loves Nature, believes in the mantra of Trust & Patience and Live & Let Live.
Pooja S. Lalwani, Co-founder
Pooja, Chartered Accountant & Commerce graduate. Has experience in connecting authentic food & product mix. She works towards her passion, to get innovative food options at foodwalas, apart from financial discipline. She takes care of Product & catalogue management.
How did this idea of creating an online marketplace of ordering authenticate food products originate? What is the Vision behind this?
The idea was actually mix of few events, incidence and situation. We believe that India’s real treasure is its food. Every city has its unique food. My family is from Jodhpur and I live in Aurangabad. So whenever anyone would visit Jodhpur, we would request them to bring back food items. However, there were two constraints to this arrangement. We had to be dependent on the kind gesture of someone else and perhaps even cause inconvenience to them. Moreover, it would take up to 8 -9 days for that person to bring the food stuff to our place and perishable food items would not last that long.
So I thought why not make a portal that connects foodies like myself to India’s best gourmet food sellers. In short make India’s food treasure available to everyone at their doorsteps. For instance, if I want Mysore Pak from Mysore, it should be available to me at my doorstep that too fresh. So we took all these factors into account and convinced the best & fastest logistics teams in India to pick up orders from vendors and deliver pan India within three to five days at a nominal cost. We told the vendors that they should send their products from the fresh batch so that the customer who receives the product will be enjoying fresh food. The vision is to uplift gourmet food makers/industry by helping them to reach national audience.
How did the name come into place? What does it convey?
Well, the most challenging task initially was what to name? After much deliberation, we felt that it should contain food and food makers, so finally we named ‘foodwalas’ and the ‘s’ was added to the name to convey plural/many food makers.
Could you share in detail the challenges faced by the Founder in bringing this idea to reality?
Journey from Chartered Accountancy to Food-Tech Entrepreneur.
The very first challenge was getting into field, which was never our domain. Being a Chartered Accountant by profession, which was all about Finance, developing a portal/Online Marketplace was a challenge as I din’t know much about it. Tried connecting to many developers/some IT friends, but nothing worked, due to cost, reliability & time frame quoted by them. So, the only option left was learning all by myself and develop it in-house. I think that was one of the best decision I took, although it took me long, but today I can see things from developer’s perspective having level playing discussion. Earlier, whenever any of the agencies used to give us a quote, the presentations used to be really amazing but the actual output would always fall way short of our expectations.
Figuring out logistics was another major challenge. Since food items are perishable, logistics becomes even more critical. But being from a financial background we were able to convince our logistic partners of the feasibility of our financial model. We only accept products that have a shelf life of minimum 12 days. We needed the logistics company to pick up from the vendors and then deliver in the shortest time possible. Convincing food vendors was also a challenge. The famous food sellers do not have any time to track and deliver products and to convince them to come online was difficult. We convinced the vendors by telling them, “We are not only selling your famous foods, we are also sharing your heritage.”
Once convinced of our business proposition, the vendors were happy to come on board. Moreover, they are thrilled to have an online presence.
What is the core focus of Foodwalas when it comes to business philosophy?
To us, we want to change and redefine the landscape of the gourmet and specialty-food market by empowering wonderful local and regional food merchants from all around the country to have a national audience. We exist to create experiences where passion and purpose come together. To create something that not only serves millions of consumers, but also empowers an entire industry of gourmet and specialty food producers.
Would you like to share some statistical or other achievements of Foodwalas?
Jan, 2015 - Launched Foodwalas.com with 3 vendors, 2 Cities.
Mar 2016 - Completed 4000 Orders, with 25 Vendors onboard, 9 Cities, 2 States
Dec 2016 - Added 50 Vendors, 20 Cities, 9 States Crossed 6000 orders.
July 2018 - Relaunched Foodwalas 2.0, 125 Vendors, 30 Cities, 12 States
Oct 2018 - Launched Foodwalas Android App
Appreciated by CFTRI, Mysore and FICCI amongst, innovative Food startups.
Could you share the testimonials of some of the happy customers?
Every Customer email, are handled by both founders be it compliments or complaint. For us, its fingers crossed every time. Once we received compliments from 84 years old, Gentlemen Mr. Venkat Vishwanathan that “I received my favorite Mathura Peda, direct from Mathura craved for it so long, that too in Pondicherry. Loads of Blessing’’ It was cloud9 moment for us, because someone aged 84 ordering Online cannot think of, that really motivate us to do more.
How did you figure out the need for a platform in this sector which is currently an unorganized sector?
The ecommerce has power to uplift the industry. For any food maker today the biggest challenge is how to market, how to setup Supply Chain & Distribution, how to save inventory loss due to perishable nature of food and many such. The Solution for all this Online Platform/marketplace which helps them to Market, Setup Pan India (Very Soon Globally) Distribution, consumer connect getting feedback, etc. Unorganized gives us scope to make it next big thing!
Where do you envision the brand of Foodwalas to reach in the next 2-3 years?
Next to 3 Years, are very crucial for us, as we plan to scale up very aggressively. We envision reaching 100 New Place, Serve Million Customers, and Cross INR 25 Cr Revenue. With this, we look forward to add AI to help new foods makers, to connect with right audience with innovative marketing.
Have you managed to raise any funding? How did you manage the Capital requirement for the business?
We looking to raise funds and to have strategic investor on-board. Investment in Foodwalas came from our savings. Till date, we work on Rs.1 Salary and try to be asset lite as far as possible.
How many geographical locations does Foodwalas currently have the vendors on-board from & the locations Foodwalas is delivering to? Any expansion plan on the cards?
Currently, we have approx. 152 iconic vendors on-boarded from 17 States. 46 Cities. We deliver across India 25,000 + Pin-codes, which is supported by 8 logistics companies. This year we plan to add 500 Vendors, 50 New Cities.
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How do you plan to deal with the increasing competition from the other players in the space you are in?
Our Core focus remains on empowering Food makers, with constant education and guidance. With this, many food makers, wants to sell only on Foodwalas now! We have 100% assurance guarantee for all food products sold on Foodwalas for their quality and Original Brand else complete refund, this is helping us to improve our Repeat Order Ratio.
What is your message for the other very Early-stage Startups & Entrepreneurship-enthusiasts?
They should have at least one Positive Critic on board, who can constantly keep them on toe! Entrepreneurship is a very committed and adventurous journey be ready to accept success or failure. Stay focus and be alert. Find the intersection of what you love and what you’re good at. Cross-domain knowledge is also a necessity in this day and age.
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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 12th July 2019.