Bengaluru-based online food delivery start-up Potful is winning plaudits for its unique home delivery concept that brings authentic biryanis from across India to your home in hand-made eco-friendly clay pots.
Biryani’s unique gustatory appeal cuts across the country. In the North, it is an integral part of Awadhi or Lucknowi platter and, in the South, it is associated with Hyderabadi cuisine. The Bengalis love their lighter version and Mumbai-ites take pride in Bombay Biryani. Thanks to its popularity, a raft of new players have entered the biryani market seeking to adapt it to the QSR format. Ammi’s Biryani chain, Biryani Blues, Mani’s Dum Biryani, Behrouz Biryani and Charcoal Biryani are some of the more well-known names that come to mind.
Among the latest to enter this space is a Bangalore-based online food delivery start-up Potful, which has ambitions of becoming a pan-India player on the strength of its technology-based business model that aims to create a reliable brand with the promise of authenticity, variety and quality.
The market in biryani is fragmented, with mostly medium-sized regional brands operating today. Hence, there is an opportunity to create a large national brand. Potful not only delivers piping hot biryani to customer’s doorstep but, more importantly, the preparation is confected in an environment-friendly, age-old authentic cooking medium – clay pots – in which the briyani is delivered. Potful currently cooks and delivers three types of biriyani offerings compared with just one variety offered by other players in the city.
Also on offer are various types of mouth-watering wraps, kebabs and delectable desserts at pocket-friendly prices and in keeping with Potful’s hopes of becoming a national QSR brand specializing in biryani and Indian cuisine. Its innovations around biryani cooking, service and delivery are already attracting glowing reviews and strong appreciation from discerning customers in Bangalore, where it launched in July.
“We ordered the classic chicken biryani and found the delivery to be on time. The biryani came packed in a clay pot, which was also tightly sealed with dough. It was cooked really well, the chicken was tender and the spices were in the right quantity. It wasn’t too spicy or too bland, and anyone who hasn’t tasted some good biryani can order from it,” wrote Anurag Dey in his review of the dish on Zomato.
Within just three months of operations, Potful’s inventiveness and innovation is being appreciated by a growing base of biryani enthusiasts.
“Potful is for all biryani lovers. Whether it be Hyderabadi biryani or Lucknowi or even from Kolkata, Potful has it all. Their way of serving authentic biryanis from across India to your home in Bangalore in a hand-made eco-friendly clay pot comes across as a unique home delivery concept in an already crowded market. The menu isn’t vast – biryanis, wraps, tandoori starters and Indian desserts,” wrote Rohit Dassani.
For Potful founder Lokesh Krishnan, this is just a first step towards exploring the online food delivery market. “Indian culinary habits and taste preferences vary from state to state and sometimes even within a state, and biryani is probably the only food that connects different parts of India and is loved by most people irrespective of the region, age or income. Biryani is a meal in itself, eaten for lunch or dinner and is affordable across all segments. By creating a business model using biryani as the core offering, we’re building a scalable product”, says Krishnan, who has had decades of experience dealing with the Food business, as former Director for Food at wholesale giant METRO Cash & Carry India and as a lifelong biryani aficionado.
“Potful, with its unique cloud kitchen model, is an attempt to bring authenticity, choice and convenience of technology and delivery to this age-old favorite food of India.”
In terms of acceptance and popularity, biryani is possibly the Indian pizza. “It remains intact for deliveries and has the fragrant flavours and spices that are so essential for local taste buds to identify and enjoy,” says one of the most successful private equity investors in the domestic food sector.
Its cooking process is easier to standardize and it can be served in multiple variants – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. A nutritious dish, it has been preferred since the times of nawabs and nizams as a complete meal and is very easy to package. It requires minimal last-minute cooking and can go along with several side orders, thus reaching your home faster than a pizza. As an alternative to pizza, though, it is far from being a junk food and is easy on the pocket too.
Potful’s concept of cooking the rice in an earthen pot is by no means new, but it is an ingenious idea for a delivery service to offer such biryanis from different parts of India – each distinct in its flavour, preparation and concept.
“Evolving food tech, packaging and delivery mechanisms, and the Indian youth’s love for QSRs as well as the ease with which biryani retains its aroma and taste has re-invented the way Indians are ordering, serving and consuming biryani. Social media is an important avenue for foodies to discover and appreciate new offerings using this digital platform, so Potful has adopted a technology-based cloud kitchen model to disrupt the market. We want to build a QSR model around biryani and Indian cuisine using technology as a key platform,” says Krishnan.
In Bengaluru, as in many other major cities of India, the biryani market is mostly fragmented, notwithstanding a handful of well-established specialty restaurants (mostly old timers) that are well known for their biryanis. Biryanis are consumed across the city and every restaurant sells a reasonable volume of biryani, thus underlying the fragmented nature of the market.
“Our technology platform is available on web, android, iOS, Facebook, Zomato, Swiggy, foodpanda and on call. Ensuring ease of food discovery and ordering, it also offers you the promise of variety with authenticity. While there are more than 15 varieties of biryanis available in India, Hyderabadi and Awadhi are the only two well-known flavors across the country. Besides, the option for Awadhi biryani in the South is limited and finding Hyderabadi biryani in the North is tough. But with our cities becoming cosmopolitan, the needs are different and a one-taste-fits-all biryani recipe doesn’t work. So there’s an opportunity to offer variety with flavors from across India and that is our selling proposition. Potful is India’s first food platform to offer multiple varieties of Indian biryanis on a single platform,” avers Krishnan.
Barely three months old as an online food platform, Potful is currently serving in the Indiranagar, Koramangala and Old Airport Road areas of Bangalore and plans to spread out its services all over city by end of next year, before expanding to other markets.
“There are plenty of opportunities to grow as the foodservice industry is poised to expand significantly in the next few years. The share of organized food industry is expected to reach 30 per cent by 2021 out of the total US $70 billion market. QSRs, in general, and Indian cuisine based QSRs in particular, will drive the organized food space and hence there is a large opportunity to build a national brand,” observes Krishnan.