InnerChef Pvt Ltd, the ready-to-cook meals delivery startup floated by GSF Accelerator’s Rajesh Sawhney, has raised Rs 11 crore ($1.6 million) in pre-series A funding from Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Redbus co-founder Phanindra Sama, Shaadi.com’s Anupam Mittal and other tech investors.
GOQii founder Vishal Gondal, BharatMatrimony.com founder Murugavel Janakiraman, Dinesh Agarwal, founder of IndiaMART.com and Tolexo.com, Hungama Digital founder Neeraj Roy and Roshan Abbas, founder of Encompass, also put money in this round, as per a press statement. Teru Sato, founder of Japan’s NetPrice and Beenos, Softbank executive Atsushi Tiara, Hiro San of M&S Fund, Japan, and TA Venture were among the other investors.
InnerChef will use the funds to expand its footprint and launch 10 new kitchens across Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. It will also use the money to build its newly launched desserts marketplace, Indulge, across six cities within the next three months, the statement said.
Indulge aims to aggregate 100,000 home bakers across 100 Indian cities within a year. It will also provide bakers a technology platform and delivery infrastructure to reach end customers. It has started this service in Gurgaon and South Delhi.
Sawhney said the funding demonstrates the investors’ confidence in InnerChef’s kitchen-in-the-cloud business model, strength of its team, and strong growth since the launch in April 2015.
Gurgaon-based InnerChef adapted its model from the US-based Blue Apron. It delivers pre-cooked, sliced food to customers with all necessary ingredients as well as the recipe packed in a kit.
The company was launched by Sawhney, Bal DiGhent, Heena Karia Thakkar, Uday Bansal and Rahul Samat. However, Thakkar (a professional chef), Bansal (founder of fantasy stock trading platform Skybulls) and Samat (ex-employee of Barclays in New York) quit a few months ago as part of what the company called a ‘restructuring exercise’.
InnerChef is now run by Sawhney, former president of Reliance Entertainment and founder of GSF Superangels , and DiGhent, who runs Di Ghent Café. InnerChef is likely to soon induct an industry veteran as its third co-founder.
The food-tech space in India is one of the hottest segments with several companies raising funds from VC firms, as per data from VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle and Techcircle.in.
Startups in this space either offer an ordering platform from restaurants or run their own kitchens and cafes. Some serve ready-to-cook or ready-to-serve meal boxes.
Earlier this month, Holachef Hospitality Pvt Ltd, which runs an online marketplace where professionals and amateur chefs can sell meals, secured an undisclosed amount in funding from Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata.
Also, Bangalore-based Bundl Technologies Pvt Ltd, which owns and operates online food ordering startup Swiggy.com, has raised Series B funding of $16.5 million (around Rs 102 crore) in a round led by Norwest Venture Partners for geographical expansion and brand building.
Bite Club, based in Delhi-NCR, raised Rs 3 crore from Powai Lake Ventures and angels such as Aneesh Reddy of Capillary Technologies, Ashish Kashyap of Goibibo Group and Alok Mittal of Canaan Partners. In February, food technology and delivery startup Yumist raised about Rs 6.2 crore from venture capital firm Orios Venture Partners.
The other large deals in this segment were that of TinyOwl, which raised Rs 100 crore in its Series B round from Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, and Foodpanda, which raised $110 million for its global plans.