The e-commerce landscape is rapidly changing in India & there has been an interesting set of companies built around Design, Portfolio Development, Logistics etc. The next wave after e-commerce is definitely “Food-Commerce” or “Food-Tech” & many startups have evolved in that category. Today, we have a chat with Sandeep Ghoshal, Co-Founder of Grubbr.in which aims to be the one-stop destination for “Food Discovery” for consumers!!
Let’s have a Q&A with Sandeep on Grubbr, Entrepreneurship & other aspects related to tech….
Can you give a small background about you, your start-up and its founders ?
We are three partners – two of us co-founded the company. My co-founder and I come with rich experience in Sales & Business Development & Communications. We are first time entrepreneurs. Our third partner however is a seasoned entrepreneur, having founded two companies already. He brings immense expertise of starting a business and running it successfully.
Every idea is born out of a problem/inspiration, what was the trigger of starting Grubbr.in ?
There were a few light bulb moments that brought us to the idea of Grubbr. We love eating out and we’ve used all kinds of apps and websites to hunt for good food.
However, there were multiple occasions where we felt that these apps pointed us to a list of restaurants but were of little help when it came to deciding what to order, which happens to be the most universal eat-out question. Yes, there are helpful user reviews, but one needs to sift through a long list of reviews to get to the dish recommendations! When you’re hungry, that’s a big ask!
Besides, most reviews touch upon aspects like service, ambiance, price and other factors – not to say these are not important – but the dish recommendation tends to get buried under all this.
Grubbr cuts through all the bells and whistles and goes straight to the food. The app gives you a list of solid dish recommendations. As the user base grows and ratings increase, making a sound dish selection will become quick and easy!
Food Tech startups are the next wave after e-commerce wave, your comments on the same ?
2015 is all set to be the year of the food tech start-ups – several gurus and trend analysts have stated this. Right here in Bengaluru, we can see prime shopping streets slowly transform into ‘food streets’. As the restaurant business burgeons, ancillary services including food tech start-ups will also witness an upswing.
Presently the action is centered around restaurant recommendation and food delivery. The future, we believe, will be about food discovery.
Can you please elaborate on the Revenue Model of Grubbr ?
Grubbr doesn’t have a revenue model yet. For now, we are focusing on getting users and giving them the best possible dish recommendations – which means acquiring credible information and increasing coverage. We do have a few ideas on how to monetize, but at the moment all eyes are trained on gaining critical mass in information and user base.
How does Grubbr stack up against the other competitor’s that are also in the Food Tech space ?
Grubbr is in a very differentiated space of ‘dish’ recommendations. Till now the food space has seen players who recommend restaurants – Zomato, Burrp, Times city and such-like or deliver food; however, one space that is still largely unexplored is the food discovery space – a space that is relevant to both sets of ‘eat out’ consumers – the ones looking to go eat at a restaurant as well as those who want to order in. We believe Grubbr as a product, is ahead of the curve.
What are some of the issues [especially logistics] faced by food-tech startups ?
This really depends on the sub category of food tech that the company operates in – for companies that deliver food, the obvious pain points are delivery of the food, on time, to the users and ensuring a smooth financial transaction. For companies that operate purely in the information services space, like Grubbr, the issue is having enough feet on the street and getting credible information for our users. One thing common to all startups though is finding the right, committed manpower.
What are some of the USP’s of Grubbr ?
Grubbr is only focused on dishes, unlike other sites or app. Since users rate each dish on Grubbr, our dish and cuisine-based search is far more accurate. As a product, we are the first app to show dish photos, as they are served at the restaurant, helping users “see” the dish before they order
While food discovery is big in the US, Grubbr has bettered the model by combining crowd sourced information and collecting primary information on our own – this way we control data and quality of food images. Because we’ve invested in data collection, we are able to offer a comprehensive database of dishes and restaurants. In the past six months, we’ve covered over 900 top restaurants in Bangalore with over 3500 dishes. We still think this is a tiny number, but we’ve had several teething issues to address. Things are smoother now and we hope to scale fast.
Our hybrid model ensures that we collect primary data and at the same time allow Grubbr users to recommend dishes. This gives us far greater coverage and better recommendations.
What are the major changes that you experienced when you moved from an Employee to an Employer [or Entrepreneur] ?
While, as an employee you are [our rather should be] completely invested in your work and company, the level of ownership you feel for your own venture is something you never experience as an employee.
As an entrepreneur, I have personally learnt a lot more in the last 1 year, than I may have in the last 10 years of working.
What are your key advice(s) to people who want to start-up ?
Since we are “new entrepreneurs” ourselves, it’s perhaps a little premature to offer advice to other budding entrepreneurs. However, one basic truth is that the perceived threat of failure is larger than the actual. Today, you are as much at risk in your job as you are as an entrepreneur.
Also, the vibrant startup system today allows you more confidence to trade your well paying jobs for the excitement of doing something on your own…this wasn’t as easy back in 2008.
What are your views about the start-up landscape in India ?
How important it is for startups especially web, mobile & Food-tech to follow the “Lean Approach” ?
We are big believers in the ‘Lean approach’. For instance, while the Grubbr app today serves the purpose of recommending dishes far better than anyone else in the market, this is still version 1 of the product. As we go along, we will adapt and improve, and add features that create more magic. It’s prudent to launch a basic product and then build on it, rather than wait endlessly for the perfect product and miss the boat completely! Besides, only once you launch the product can you infer the best use case.
The beauty of being a start up is that founders have their ears closer to the ground than CEOs of big companies…therefore you should be able to adapt more quickly.
As per you, when should a startup [especially in consumer business] plan a pan-India expansion ?
As soon as you have the requisite funds.
Which are some of the books which you would recommend for wanna-be entrepreneurs ?
There are some useful titles – such as The Outliers, The Lean Start-up etc. That said, a lot of learning happens on the ‘battlefield’, as you work through all the problems and glitches. Of course, you can also learn from other entrepreneurs, their success & mistakes.
One thing you need to bear in mind is the ability to keep things simple and focus on a few, important things.
Any parting words from you for budding entrepreneurs ?
Each entrepreneur finds their mantra in their own way. For us, it is about being passionate about what we do. Even when we are worried for our survival, we keep reminding ourselves of the reasons why we started Grubbr. That always cheers us up!
If you wake up feeling bored and tired with your project then it’s pretty much the end of the road. But if you’re excited, even when facing tough challenges, then you will find the courage to push on. The fear of failure is also strong and effective motivating factor that drive people, as long as you don’t let it bog you down. And finally, keep it simple and focus on doing a few things right.
We don’t know if Grubbr will be a hit or miss. We just love what we do, and we want to have lots of fun along the way. And yes, eat delicious food any chance we get !!
Do give Grubbr [iOS App & Android App] a shot & share your experience with us. If you have any questions for Sandeep or about Grubbr, please let them in the comments section !!