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Exclusive: BCCL to back food-tech firm FreshMenu

03 November, 2017

Bengaluru-based food-tech startup Foodvista India Pvt. Ltd, which operates online food delivery platform FreshMenu, has found a new backer in media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL).

BCCL, the publisher of The Times of India and The Economic Times, will invest Rs 1.65 crore ($255,613) in the company, according to its filings with the Registrar of Companies.

FreshMenu founder Rashmi Daga confirmed the development to VCCircle, saying it was an ad-for-equity deal.

The RoC documents show also that the startup more than doubled its net sales in 2016-17  to Rs 70.9 crore from Rs 31.7 crore the previous year. Net loss widened to Rs 42.3 crore from Rs 33.8 crore, as total expenses increased to Rs 117 crore from Rs 67 crore.

“We have more than doubled our revenues. That is a strong growth number. The losses have just gone up by around Rs 7 crore. It shows that more efficiencies have kicked in for sure,” she said.

Earlier this year, FreshMenu had broken into the top-five club in the online food delivery space in India, in terms of revenues.

According to 2015-16 figures, Zomato led the pack with Rs 185 crore. Quick-service restaurant chain and online food delivery company Faasos was a distant second with Rs 62 crore. The third spot went to Foodpanda India with Rs 37.8 crore. Food-delivery platform Swiggy was ranked fifth with total revenues of Rs 23.6 crore.

Subsequently, Zomato, too, had seen its revenue soar to Rs 316 crore in 2016-17.

Founded in 2014 by IIM-Ahmedabad alumna Daga, FreshMenu prepares meals and delivers from its own kitchen facilities. It has so far raised around $22 million from investors, including Zodius Technology Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners and GrowthStory.

FreshMenu got a fix on the cloud kitchen model much before most other food-tech startups, and stuck to it. The concept is still relatively new, and is loosely used to address a number of models in the food-tech space. That said, it can be broadly identified as mini-kitchens that cater only to online food delivery and do not offer dine-in or take-out services.

The cloud kitchen model includes full-stack restaurants like HolaChef, and other single or centralised kitchens, where chefs from partner restaurants come together and use the facility. Zomato and Swiggy, too, are setting up their own cloud kitchens for partner restaurants with Zomato Infrastructure Services and The Bowl Company, respectively.

In January, BCCL had invested Rs 60 crore in Ahmedabad-based e-tailer Infibeam Corporation Ltd in exchange for equity.

News Corp VCCircle competes with The Times of India and The Economic Times in certain segments.

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Exclusive: BCCL to back food-tech firm FreshMenu

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