Jab We Ate: Kolkata’s First On-demand Homemade Food Delivery Startup by Saurabh Dhanuka

By: Sourav

Ordering cooked food and placing an order to cook food are as different as chalk from cheese. Cooked food may not come with your choicest ingredients but the food cooked as per your requirement is sure to be fulfilling. If you prefer placing orders to cook food for delivery to your address over ordering cooked food delivery to your doorstep, Jab We Ate is your call.

Jab We Ate is a Kolkata-based on-demand homemade food delivery startup which takes orders first and then cooks food. The moment they receive orders, they start cooking so that there is no wastage from their end. If an order is placed in advance, the food is delivered hot and fresh. Saurabh Dhanuka, an executive MBA from IIM Calcutta, owns and runs the startup.

CEO saurabh dhanuka, jab we ate startup, Kolkata startups. on demand food deliverySaurabh also holds a PG diploma in Mass Communication & Advertising. He had a stint in an international digital marketing agency before he launched Jab We Ate. Cooking is his passion and writing is his hobby. He claims to be a big foodie. He also runs an NGO ‘RIDHI’ where underprivileged kids are served food. He is also planning to provide them with practical education.

Let’s see how Jab We Ate happened to Saurabh Dhanuka. His startup was born out of the idea to cook and serve the most relished homemade food, which he hit upon under the influence of the words, “Love cannot be described. It must be tasted,” told by someone very close to him. He focuses on cooking and delivering simple, healthy homemade food which can be eaten daily unlike lavish, exotic dishes.

“When I was in Mumbai for a project, I started missing home-cooked food. My heart went out to those who move on away from their home in search of a living. What they miss the most while staying away from home is the comfort of home which comes from homemade food. “Aaj khane mein kya hai” is the question that we face every other day when we are away from home. For many there is no time to cook for themselves. That’s why Jab We Ate came into existence,” says Saurabh.

You must be curious to know what the USP of Jab We Ate is. It is the zero inventory model of the startup. Another interesting dimension of the startup is ‘Be your own chef’, a network of home chefs who cook at Jab We Ate. They cook only when there are orders. So nothing is pre cooked.

Due to such a unique business model, Jab We Ate has faced challenges. The most critical one is pricing. There are many thali system businesses in Kolkata, which sell meals almost at 50% lesser prices than Jab We Ate does. Saurabh did not reduce the price to compromise with the quality of food. He cooks food in refined oil and with pure spices. He makes sure to be consistent with the quality and deliver food hot and fresh.

Jab We Ate startup, food tech startups, Saurabh Dhanuka story, success stories

Jab We Ate has been in competition with other businesses. To beat the competition, Saurabh Dhanuka took a step forward to deliver fresh and hot food post mid night, which none of other businesses does. Jab We Ate specializes in serving Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Thai and American apart from various Indian cuisines.

“The second most challenging factor is building and retaining a team of delivery boys,” says Saurabh. It was not easy to find delivery boys with good knowledge of areas and traffic in Kolkata. It was more difficult because many were not able to operate smart phones. On several occasions, Saurabh himself hit the road to deliver orders to customers.

“Orders on a short notice make it difficult for us to cook and deliver in a short time. It is another challenge to overcome,” shares Saurabh. The target audience of Jab We Ate includes workaholics, family persons, bachelors and working couples who most of the times place orders in narrow time bands during lunch and dinner. Saurabh Dhanuka is trying to overcome this challenge.

How successful is Jab We Ate today? Saurabh Dhanuka cheerfully said, “We have served more than 2500 happy meals since the launch. Recently we started offering monthly subscription to our regular customers. Monthly subscription makes it cheaper than the total costs of daily meals for a month. Besides, a monthly subscription costs 4800 rupees for meals worth 5400 rupees. We serve 10 different types of thali including Simple Thali and Diet Thali to cater to customers with different palates and needs.” Jab We Ate has also got into corporate food supply. It acts as a food vendor for companies and catering service provider for parties.

Surprisingly, Jab We Ate is not funded by any angel investor unlike other startups in India. Saurabh is not looking for any funding as of now since it’s more of a learning phase for him. As he is from the digital marketing background, he believes in leveraging the best digital marketing practices to reach out to his target audience and connect with them in real time. He has already hatched an expansion plan which includes Bangalore.

Jab We Ate was a part of the first reality show on business entrepreneurship which was held in Kolkata in January 2016. Out of the 1200 applicants, 40 startups were shortlisted, including Jab We Ate, which represented West Bengal in the reality show named ‘Egiye Bangla’.

On closing note, Saurabh Dhanuka says, “I always believe that a hungry customer is an angry customer. It is my first and foremost responsibility to please them with good food and make them feel happy with the service. The food delivery market stands at $1. 6 billion in India. We at Jab We Ate are keen on grabbing a larger pie of the market by means of our passion, hard work, service, technology and innovation.”

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