With its 7-minutes oven to table guarantee, Rocketchefs is a first of its kind mobile food delivery service, which makes food available immediately through its mobile food bikes and
especially designed food vans. Ramnidhi Wasan, its Founder and CEO, speaks to FoodService India about how his service offers better value for the customer‘s money by delivering orders piping hot and fresh, unlike most home delivery options where the food gets cold by the time it reaches the customer
Tell us about Rocketchefs. How was the idea conceived and what made you believe in its proof of concept?
Rocketchefs is a first ever pizza vans on call. Customers can place an order through its geo location based app to get piping hot pizzas and other foods, sometimes even cooked right at your doorstep.
Food delivery as a concept is fast gaining popularity in India given the young working population and consumers’ preference of ‘eating out’ while being comfortable at home. With online food delivery players building scale through partnerships, the organised food business has a huge potential and a promising future.
Taking cognisance of the obvious concern faced by consumers during food delivery, namely the deterioration in food quality, we have tried to address such concerns. Thus was born the concept of Rocketchefs. With its 7-minutes oven to table guarantee, Rocketchefs envisages to be a solution for this gap in the market. It is a first of its kind mobile food delivery service that makes food available immediately, through its mobile food bikes and especially designed food vans.
Does the name carry any special meaning?
The name Rocketchefs aims to denote speed with a high degree of quality.
What is the menu on offer and which are the cuisines that you cater to? Also, what is your pricing strategy?
The inaugural menu includes lip smacking dishes such as stone oven thin crust pizzas and gourmet kebabs. We aim to expand the variety of food available and take it to the next level by providing them completely on demand. We shall soon be launching interesting options as korma sandwich, korma coffee, etc. Our pricing is almost at par, in fact, even lower than that of other key players operating in the segment. Our customers certainly receive value for their money as their order is delivered piping hot and fresh, unlike most home delivery options wherein the food gets cold by the time it reaches the customer.
Tell us about your kitchen operations and how far it has been rigged and customized to meet the demands of mobile food service delivery?
The kitchen was specifically designed to attend to the needs of the mobile food service delivery. It is highly mechanised to ensure standardisation of the food, and the entire process is scientific and helps in achieving efficiencies.
What are the relative business advantages that a mobile food delivery business has over brick-and mortar restaurants and the Internet-first restaurants?
As mentioned earlier, an obvious concern faced by consumers during food delivery is the deterioration in food quality. Led by industry experts, Rocketchefs aims to use food knowledge, hospitality expertise, back-end support and a strong technological backbone to offer a cutting edge experience to its customers. Our mobile food bikes, vans and especially designed food pods allows us to be ‘on the move’ thus giving us the ability to adapt to the customer’s requirements. We are able to serve customers better by offering them a fine dining cuisine experience right at their doorstep.
It’s very difficult for any mobile delivery service provider to create a brand with a loyal customer connect. Customers are not emotionally involved with the food they buy from mobile vans. How do you propose to overcome this big challenge?
The Rocketchefs’ concept has evolved the combination of technology and fine dining cuisines’ experience at the consumer’s doorstep. Our easy to use geo location based mobile app enables consumers to look-up the food van closest to them, choose a dish, and with one click finalise the order. Also, our menu offering is specialised, with stone oven thin crust pizzas and gourmet kebabs – food items that are best enjoyed when hot and fresh. The differentiated experience of actually being able to locate a food van closest to them, along with the ease of placing an order for delectable food, provides us with the edge over other similar food service providers.
The mobile food business hasn’t really picked up in India and is widely perceived to cater to only Chinese fast food, ice-creams, and street food. How do you propose to change this deeply entrenched consumer psychology and behaviour and make people believe that it can also cater to gourmet food?
The mobile or food truck business in India is becoming popular and growing at a fast rate. Food loving entrepreneurs are entering this market with interesting concepts. The Rocketchefs model is based on India’s legendary street food scene, and we aim to expand the variety of food available as “street foods”. We will take it to the next level by providing an interesting variety in the menu, utmost hygiene and food safety, while delivering it completely on demand. Fortunately for us, the Indian consumer is open to experimenting with food and is willing to try out new cuisines, formats, etc. It is this consumer attitude that we will tap and I am confident that food truck concepts such as ours will continue to grow.
Could you give us your assessment of the mobile food business in the country – in terms of size, potential, growth prospects, etc.? Who are the established players in this business that have transformed into brands?
The organised mobile food business in India is worth $48 billion, or Rs.3 lakh crore, of which food delivery is valued at $15 billion (Rs. 94,755 crore). Home delivery and takeaways are expected to increase in popularity over the forecast period as consumers are looking for more convenient options. Late working hours and chaotic traffic is driving sales of home deliveries.
Some of the top players in this segment are Zomato, FoodPanda and Swiggy. Cyberchef, Box8 and Yumist are other new players who are slowly catching up with the established mobile food delivery businesses in India. Please explain your business model – do you also own the trucks and vans, are you only a food supplier or a food supplier plus something more…?
Rocketchefs is a progressive evolution from food delivery to food being cooked at your doorstep! We are not striving to simply create a brand, but to build an eco-system for food creation, delivery and experience. At present we have four of the specially designed
food vehicles and five more are under production. We aim to build social entrepreneurship by entering into the franchise model, thus providing an impetus to budding entrepreneurs across urban centers.
The franchisee invests in the vehicle and all the last mile operations. All other support is provided by Rocketchefs. The franchisee requires no backend and just has to focus on customer service. With a low break-even point of only Rs. 4000.00 per day, the model allows anyone to follow his/her entrepreneurial journey.
Which are the systems, tools, and people that you have put in place to ensure smooth day-to-day operations?
Reducing the moving parts is the cornerstone of any quality assurance guide. The same guiding principle has been put to work here. The overall process has been made foolproof.
The mobile food business is known to suffer from several operational, supply chain and inventory management challenges? What is your strategy and solutions for addressing these challenges?
Rocketchefs ensures constant food supply at the franchisees’ doorstep on a frequent basis, regularly attending to the supply chain and inventory management issues.
One of the major hurdles with the mobile food delivery service is that each locality has a different approach to regulating, making it difficult to implement standardised regulations. How are you addressing this challenge?
We don’t allow our vans to park and cause any disruption to local traffic or the environment. The vans respond to the guest and deliver the food as per the order. They are not food trucks in the typical sense which may be seen parked by the roadside. Moreover, Rocketchefs model is also available as a kiosk.
As health and hygiene regulations grow more onerous with time, what is your strategy for ensuring that quality, health and safety issues are beyond reproach?
This is a huge area and requires a careful process driven approach at every step. We have taken a six sigma approach to define the same. These include:
• Our recipes are scientific
• Chefs are trained
• Extensive automation at the back-end
• Customised cooking equipment with a high degree of energy efficiency and evenness of cooking to ensure repeatability and reproducibility
• Staff training
• HACCP training
What is your current phase of development? Which are the markets you are currently present in, how many orders do you cater to per day, what is the average ticket size, daily/weekly sales turnover?
At present we are operational in Gurgaon. We are poised to enter about 25 per cent of the residential areas in Gurgaon by the next three months. The current phase of development could be termed as early revenues. We are currently attending to
around 60-80 orders per day. We have broken even from the first month of operations itself. The pizza, which gets delivered, is also approximately 30 per cent cheaper than the competitors’.
Location is important to any kind of food business but more so for the mobile food delivery business. What is your strategy in this regard and how do you home in on a particular location?
Our unique model with the mobile food vans on call allows us to cater to a varied audience, right from corporate houses to residential areas. The specialised menu offering and relatively low lead time, as the food van is parked right at the consumer’s doorstep, make us an ideal choice for community meals, celebrating special occasions as parties, get-togethers, etc. Our vans are always on the move and we do not park at a location to cause any disruption to the local traffic or the environment. The vans respond to our customers and deliver the food as per his order.
Which are the ways in which you are leveraging technology to reach out to customers and establish your presence in both offline and online domains?
By some estimates, there are 250-300 food technology start-ups in the country at present. Technology plays an integral role in the sustenance and ultimate success of any food-tech model. The Rocketchefs’ concept is formed on a strong technological backbone and back-end support. Our easy to use geo location based mobile app enables consumers to look up the food van closest to them, choose a dish, and with one click finalise the order. We aim to become an ecosystem of food vans and food bikes on call. We visualise that these vehicles are manned by independent operators, which are able to attend to their local markets as true entrepreneurs. Literally, we want to become the Uber for food.
What are your plans for scaling up the business?
We want to saturate Gurgaon first and then venture into Delhi. In next three months we are trying to have 25 vehicles with us to expand our reach in other parts of Gurgaon.