Robin Uthappa had backed iTiffin, a startup that made healthy food. It looked like iTiffin was poised to be a big success.
Robin Uthappa, the Karnataka cricket star, was struggling to maintain a healthy diet. He approached Qua Nutrition, which was a nutrition consulting firm founded by Tapan Dass and Ryan Fernando. It helped Uthappa improve his health. However, Das and Fernando realized that giving advice was not a good idea. They decided to take the next step and create iTiffin, a company that offered healthy, calorie-controlled food. Uthappa contributed seed money in excess of Rs 1.5 crore to help start the company.
iTiffin opened tiffin service near me in Bangalore
iTiffin, a Bengaluru-based restaurant, opened its doors in October 2013. It offered a variety of meals, including special diets for children and elderly. Co-founder and CEO, Das said, “We combine advanced nutrition, food science, and food service to offer all from wellness-inducing meals to calorie-defined dinners, according to the diner’s preference.” The iTiffin team, which includeed about 100 food and nutrition experts and chefs who could prepare up to 20,000 meals per day, was made up of expert chefs and food scientists.
Food services startup follows a subscription-based model
You could order food via the company’s website or by phone. 80% of orders were made via the website. There were weekly and monthly lunch and dinner subscriptions available, with prices ranging from Rs 500-800 to Rs 1,800-3,000. You couldn’t order a single meal. It was important to have a plan, and then stick with it. Fernando, Director and Co-founder, said that healthy food should not be a temporary thing.
Fresh food delivery by iTiffin could only be made to Bengaluru. The founders planned to establish a pan-India presence. Das said, “We are currently building a team and we expect to start operations in Delhi by the end of July 2013.” iTiffin also offered Munchboxes, which were healthy snacks that could be ordered from anyone in the country. They also planned to use third-party platforms to sell their Munchboxes. This start-up had experienced impressive growth initially.
It served over 15,000 meals in its first year of operation. In 2014, it earned close to Rs 3 crore and planned to increase its workforce to 200 within the next six months.
“We listen to our customers, understand their needs and create our offerings accordingly.” Fernando said it helps the business.
iTiffin launched a special flour called i-Atta on the advice of a customer. This flour was said to be more suitable for diabetics than regular flour.
Despite i-Tiffin becoming more popular, it was still difficult to retain customers for a longer time. With a customer retention rate of 60 days and over 5,000 loyal customers, the start-up was able to expand its customer base and retention period. Das said that the wellness-centric business approach should bring in more customers as more people become aware of healthy foods.
The first-mover advantage was also available to the start-up. “We produced food that addresses lifestyle-related issues. We own the entire business chain. We have no domestic competition because of this,” Das said. iTiffin was unique in that it managed the entire food chain, including customer acquisition, food preparation, and delivery. This gave them an advantage over other health food businesses. iTiffin’s future was bright until they were hit by disaster.
iTiffin closes down their tiffin services in Bangalore
iTiffin.in, an online meal delivery service based in Bangalore, has stopped accepting orders and encouraged employees to search for employment. This is yet another reminder that the sector of food-tech is in serious trouble despite numerous new ventures raising funds.
Techcircle.in was informed by three people who were familiar with the developments that iTiffin’s website had been down since March 25, 2016, according to Techcircle.in. The company also has stopped accepting orders via its mobile app. According to the people, the company had officially informed employees that it might resume operations in May.
This development comes as food-tech startups like Dazo, TinyOwl, and SpoonJoy were closing down or downsizing operations, while First Eat, Cookaroo, and FreshMenu attracted investors.
TapCibo Online Solutions Pvt Ltd closed Dazo’s operations in October 2013. TinyOwl, a Mumbai-based food ordering platform, has laid off approximately 200 employees. Foodpanda is one of the most prominent names in the food-tech industry. However, the company denies that it has placed its Indian unit on the market. FreshMenu, First Eat and Cookaroo were among those ventures that raised seed or angel funding.
One of the three individuals cited above stated that the company had informed staff that the website was being down for maintenance and asked them to find other jobs. An iTiffin employee, who did not want to be identified, stated that the company had informed staff that they would be paid in 20 days.
Another person stated that the website was taken down by the company due to ongoing maintenance and kitchen renovations. He said that it would take the website at least one month to relaunch. “Employes have the choice to wait for operations to restart or to look at other job options.
It is not clear if this is a permanent or temporary shutdown. The fact that employees were asked to find other options does not paint a positive picture of a startup which, unlike other food-tech ventures in the sector, used a full-stack model that included its own kitchen and supply chains.
Fernando and Das founded iTiffin in the early part of 2013. To start the venture, Das and Fernando invested Rs 10 lakh and received Rs 1.5 million from Robin Uthappa, a cricketer. The startup raised $1 million from an Indian family office in a seed round in August 2014. The startup was looking to raise $6 million in a Series A round to expand its reach to other major cities.
The startup offered tiffin that was based on a set calorie count and operated under a subscription-based model. The startup had a staff of around 100 people, including food and nutrition experts and chefs who could provide nearly 20,000 meals per day.
Das is a chartered accountant who is also an IIM-Ahmedabad graduate. He was previously vice president of finance at Flipkart.
Fernando is also an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus and holds masters’ degrees both in biochemistry and food biotechnology. Fernando is also the founder of Qua Nutrition, which advises celebrities on their diet plans.