Nepal’s first homecooked food-delivery tech platform
Nothing beats home-cooking. Except perhaps home-cooked fare delivered wherever you are, whenever you want it. There already exists a ready market of hungry customers seeking wholesome home-cooked fare. But before Foodmario was established, a critical mass of home cooks willing to get into the business of catering to this market did not exist in Nepal. That is why Foodmario has since its inception focused on encouraging home cooks to become home-based entrepreneurs, by helping them learn the business ropes, increasing market reach for them, and supporting their growth as entrepreneurs. Furthermore, Foodmario makes use of its trove of traffic-behaviour data to speedily deliver the chefs’ creations to customers. And armed with its tech platform, optimised to streamline every aspect of operations, the company is now ready to scale almost exponentially—by bringing on board hundreds more home chefs and delivering homemade dishes to thousands more customers in Kathmandu, and beyond. Once Foodmario has got Nepal covered, it will set up similar operations in other markets around the world.
The CEO’s Journey
The CEO and Co-founder of Food Mario is Rohit Tiwari—an entrepreneur by choice, but an engineer by training. He is a serial entrepreneur: he has already created many startups, each one doing better than its predecessor. From something as simple as selling rice to the college canteen during his student days to raising goats and installing high-end solar panels in hundreds of houses, he has an eclectic resume, to say the least. He has finally found his true calling with Foodmario.
Under Rohit’s leadership, Foodmario was shortlisted among the top five companies nominated for the Social Innovation Award 2017 in UNDP Youth Collaboration in Thailand. In 2018, he also pitched the Foodmario concept at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, jointly hosted by the United Nations Development Program (undp) and the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF). He has also been selected to make a pitch during the Seedstars World Competition (the world’s biggest startup competition in emerging markets) in Switzerland. Rohit’s association with Movers and Shakers started with his attending Udhyami Seed Camp 2017. By the conclusion of the camp, he and Movers and Shakers had come to understand that they made for a perfect match. And thus began their new entrepreneurial journey together. Till date, Foodmario has delivered more than 100,000 meals to happy customers. By the end of 2019, Rohit sees Foodmario working with more than 1,000 home chefs. He also envisions replicating the Foodmario model in major cities across Nepal. And later, he and the team seek to grow Foodmario into a global tech-platform for home chefs, via which anyone, in any part of the world, will be able to showcase and sell their homemade food.
Dishes in the Menu
The Business Model
Around the globe, food-delivery companies are a dime a dozen. Most deliver restaurant fare. But Foodmario is one of the very few created to facilitate the turning of home cooks into home-chef entrepreneurs—and to mechanise operations by making use of uniquely crafted high-tech solutions. In the initial phase, Foodmario worked very closely with its home chefs and helped them with everything from designing their menu to adopting management models that would meet the home chefs’ needs. Even as the company was finding its legs, Foodmario was already reaching out to newer chefs, many of whom started putting together unique offerings—low-carb meals, dishes derived from age-old family recipes, even condiments and pickles.
The chefs who use Foodmario’s services are thoroughly vetted by the company’s exacting team for hygiene, quality, taste and consistency. For customers, ordering healthy, home-cooked fare from Foodmario chefs is as easy as scrolling through the company app, website or social-media platform, clicking on their fare of choice and proceeding to check out. The Foodmario delivery team then take it from there—delivering the order via the quickest routes, seven days a week, for no additional charge.
Foodmario does take a commission from the chefs’ sales, but in exchange, the chefs do not have to worry about paying sky-high rents for premium kitchen locations, working with large overheads or spending hard-earned capital on advertising.
Foodmario’s current success hinges on their encouraging the chefs to take complete ownership of their business. The chefs run their own profile pages hosted on the Foodmario platform, and the chefs are encouraged to build a rapport with their customers through regular engagements. Owing to the team’s operational learnings and its robust tech platform, Foodmario can quickly bring new home chefs on board, streamline their business operations and rapidly add even more home chefs to their ever-increasing pool. In the future, Foodmario will mainly focus on bringing more home chefs on board. Essentially, the Foodmario platform will be one that anyone who has time on their hands would want to make use of to make additional income. And to reduce delivery time even further, Foodmario is pilot-testing two delivery matrices. In the first, the company will bring on board more home chefs per geographical location and then encourage customers to order from the chefs who live closest to the delivery destination. In the second, Foodmario is setting up fully equipped co-working kitchens, which will be rented out to chefs.
I found a new life through Foodmario
Neeta Rai has an uncanny knack for whipping up delectable dishes. When Neeta first came to Kathmandu from Darjeeling, it was that skill-set of hers she turned to, to make a living. That’s how she ended up running a small restaurant in Thamel, but her business never picked up. At her lowest point, she was doing sales figures of merely around Rs 250 a day. Perpetually working at the failing venture began to stress her out so much that she began to put on weight, and her blood pressure shot through the roof. In 2017, an acquaintance of hers suggested that it might make more sense for her to become a home chef with Foodmario. She decided to make the switch, and today, the contrast between her old venture and new one couldn’t be more stark. Her chicken curry, momos and fried rice, among others, are extremely popular among Foodmario regulars. On her busiest day so far, she served more than 180 meals. Obviously, she is doing very well as an entrepreneur. And she’s much healthier too, today: because she’s no longer saddled with the stress of running a sinking business.
In March 2018, Zonta Club of Kathmandu and Womenwill Kathmandu commemorated her achievements by including her in their list of the seven most influential women entrepreneurs in Nepal. But her biggest achievement, according to her daughter, is that Neeta is now known as a businesswoman, rather than a housewife.