Divya Shetty, Founder of 3SqrMeals, an online meal solutions platform, speaks to FoodService India about how she has positioned her start-up as a busy professional’s outsourced kitchen with customers having the flexibility to order meals of their choice, which can be delivered at multiple locations within Mumbai…
How was 3SqrMeals conceived and what is unique about its concept?
3SqrMeals is an online healthy meal service that aims to ease the daily chore of organising nutritious meals for working professionals. The idea was conceived during my nine years of work in the corporate world after trying every single tiffin service provider there was in the market. Most of the services available do not provide the customer any flexibility in terms of ordering. Any cancellations have to be confirmed the previous day. If the food tasted great, it did not match the health quotient and vice versa.
3SqrMeals is unique in its concept since it gives the user complete flexibility in ordering. Our customer can buy a single meal or discounted bulk plans. He/She has the choice to pick from a daily changing menu. The subscription plans are also made flexible to allow users to order only when they are certain of their schedule and will need the food. Cancellations can be made till 9 am the same day. We also take special care of the nutritional aspect of all our meals with no compromise on the variety or taste. All are meals are cooked and come in one person portions.
Tell us about your signature recipes and how much demand do they command in the areas under your operational cover? Give us an idea of how demand has grown over time?
We offer a wide variety of International meal options like the BBQ Chicken, Lebanese Meal, Garlic (Brown) Rice with Teriyaki Satay and Yakitori vegetables. All of these meals fall under the high protein-low carb category and are extremely well appreciated by our patrons who work out or follow a sedentary lifestyle and are looking for low calorie options. 3SqrMeals began operations in March 2015 and our deliveries have been growing at a steady pace of 50 per cent month-on-month since. Our customer attrition rate from our subscription plans has been under 10 per cent.
Have you been successful in developing consumer stickiness for your meal solutions? How many orders are you currently serving and what is your estimate of the number of repeat consumers?
Our core focus has been the subscription plans we offer and we have been very successful in moving single-use customers to subscription plans and then retaining them on our plans. Our attrition rates average around 5-7% every month. We currently average 80-100 deliveries per day in the lunch segment. We currently provide only lunches.
Do you also have any meal solution for kids?
We currently do not have such on offering.
Which have been the menu innovations at 3SqrMeals and what are your plans for rolling out more such innovations?
Innovations in our menus are key to 3SqrMeals. We have been constantly innovating with a variety of cuisines and ingredients. We started with three vegetarian and three non-vegetarian Meal options daily. After a quick customer survey we are now doing seven vegetarian and seven non- vegetarian meal options daily. Four of these seven options remain fixed for a month and the other three change daily. We understand that variety is key to ensure customer retention and we are keenly focused on wowing our patrons everyday with incredible variety, quality and taste.
What is your strategy for sourcing of the ingredients and how do you go about identifying the retailers?
We use seasonal ingredients and having a rotational menu helps incorporate as many seasonal fruits and vegetables into our meals. All the ingredients are sourced from renowned wholesalers. Sample checks are done to ensure quality before vendor contracts are entered into. On a regular basis, quality checks are undertaken to ensure the consistency in quality.
Which steps have you put in place to streamline your delivery and what are your plans to expand the delivery network?
When we started in March, we were only covering Lower Parel and BKC. Currently, we deliver in Nariman Point, Churchgate, Fort, Worli, Prabhadevi, Dadar, Mahim, BKC and Bandra West. We are on track to extend this coverage to the western suburbs in Q1-2016. We have our own delivery network. Based on the area of our coverage, we offer pre-order or on demand delivery to ensure we do not delay on any orders. Having a cut-off for orders in locations far off from our central kitchen helps schedule deliveries and avoids delays. We also supplement our delivery network with the logistics company – Roadrunnr – during high demand days to ensure deliveries are made on time.
What is your marketing and promotions strategy for raising consumer understanding of this format and for scaling your services?
We are an online service and actively promote our services on various social media platforms. We also do pop-up food stalls at various corporate to increase the awareness of the brand and our service. So far, word of mouth has been the most successful promotional tool for us.
Going forward, how do you see the growth and popularity of your format and what is your understanding of the opportunities and challenges?
The growing awareness about leading a healthy lifestyle has been very evident. However, our busy lives do not seem to help maintain a steady food pattern. A great amount of effort and discipline is required to ensure that you eat right. Our format helps busy professionals eat right with the minimal effort involved. We believe there is a huge market waiting to be tapped in the Metros. Having said that we also acknowledge that the Indian palate has evolved considerably in the last decade. Hence the standards have also increased. The competition is intense. With offers and deals being thrown around by every QSR, culling a market by commanding a price for quality is a slow and steady process. Delivery and logistics comes with its own set of issues. But in spite of the challenges, we strongly believe that efficient organised operations can achieve great synergies and bring scale and success.