We all love to have home cooked foods because the advantages are many. We can control the ingredients in our foods which in turn allows us to eat better. However, because of our jobs and work assignments not all of us are lucky enough to enjoy the home cooked delicacies. So, a gap between demand and supply exists in this space. Many food tech startups in India are using this gap to their advantage. While some of them are acting as restaurant aggregators, others are aggregating home-chefs. CookMyWish is one such food tech startup which started operations in Kolkata in October 2015.
CookMyWish aggregates woman home chefs to prepare meals from their own kitchen. Till date, more than 30 home-chefs are registered with them. Founded by Premlata Haralalka and her daughter-in-law Shruti Haralalka, the startup is run entirely by women. And, this is something which makes this food tech startup different from their competitors. CookMyWish is not only serving its customers fresh home cooked foods, but also it is providing a medium for housewives to earn.
Today, we are pleased to have Premlata Haralalka with us. The experienced entrepreneur tells us their story in this session.
Hi Premlata, welcome to conflatingVisions. To start with we would like you to say a few lines about yourself and your co-founder at CookMyWish.
CookMyWish is started by myself and my daughter-in-law Shruti. She is a B.Tech and comes with over 7 years of experience in Technology sector, most recently as a Consultant with Capgemini. Shruti has designed and built our website from scratch and even though based in Shanghai, she manages the website and social media marketing. I am a PGBM with 35+ years of experience as an entrepreneur.
Please tell us about CookMyWish. What is the working model of your venture?
CookMyWish is an online platform for ‘women’ home chef to prepare meals from their kitchens for those who want home-cooked food and we operate as aggregators, matching demand with supply, and taking care of logistics. The most important aspect is that apart from the delivery step, this is a 100% women-run business.
We have 30+ home chefs from all over Kolkata registered with us who are delighting home food lovers through our platform. Recently, we have started taking orders over the phone for senior citizens who are not net savvy. Payments can be done online (debit/credit card, net banking) or cash against delivery. We do not have any central kitchen and hence no carried forward/stale food. This also means we cannot support large, last-minute orders – because all our chefs are home-makers and not professional restauranteurs.
What invoked you to think of creating such a platform?
The concept behind CMW came to us because of 2 different insights:
- There was a growing breed of people who wanted to order for trust-worthy and reliable home-cooked food.
- We personally knew several housewives who were passionate about cooking, but they had no arrangements for delivery, and there was no “medium” for them to target customers.
So, the two issues – gap in service delivery and gap in reaching out to customers by these housewives who were passionate about cooking – prompted us to think of this venture.
How do you ensure that the food quality is maintained every time?
Before we register a Chef with us, we inspect their kitchens/sample their food. Food is prepared after the order is placed and hence we cannot provide instant food like a restaurant or a fast food counter. Every customer is unique and we invite specifications about their requirements. There are customers who specify that they want their foods without onion/garlic or they do not want bhindi or chana etc. We honour such requests. We have our own printed carry bags and ensure that packaging is appropriate. Sometimes, we work as mystery shoppers. We order food for ourselves without informing the chef as this gives us an opportunity to evaluate quality.
Share the investment details.
We are a self-funded start-up, and have a core group of 4 women (including both of us) managing technology, marketing and operations.
How is the journey so far for your food tech startup?
Like any other new business – it has been challenging but interesting.
When we started off, we positioned ourselves as a “gourmet” home-cooked meals provider. But as we went along, we realized that regular home food is the most ordered food through the platform. So we moved our model around to add a special focus on “Daily Meals”.
Regardless of that, one thing is clear – We have hit upon a gap in the market that we are trying to fulfil.
What has been the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The most challenging part is satisfying every customer. It is difficult because tastes differ across individuals and so do expectations. Catering to senior citizens is also a challenge, but they are ones who need such a service the most, as they live alone.
How did you overcome it?
When we have a dissatisfied customer (about taste) we try to explain, we take the feedback proactively and pass it to our chef. For senior citizens, we accept orders over the phone and try to satisfy their requirements as far as possible.
What are your future plans with CookMyWish?
We believe healthy eating is a part of a healthy lifestyle. We are working with a diet institute to provide healthy meals to our customers. This will also help us spread awareness on benefits of eating healthy food.
The second future focus area for us is to have our own women-only delivery fleet. That will truly be a first in the Industry. This will also help us achieve our goal of being a 100% women-only start-up focussed on enabling and creating jobs for women!
And one last question of this session, if you have had one wish…
If I had one wish, I would like to see CookMyWish flourish as a venture by women, for women and of women for healthy, fresh, home-cooked food.