Foodybuddy, a Bengaluru-based startup, is more than just a food delivery service.
What sets it apart is not just the joy it brings to thousands of people by serving them homemade food every month, but the celebration of a community of more than 2000 passionate home chefs, from different walks of life.
A quick look at the website will give you a sneak peek at the detailed profiles of these chefs, who range from 60-year-old grandmoms to homemakers.
You can also see testimonials and pictures of the mouth-watering delicacies created by them.
The Better India got in touch with co-founder Rachna Rao, to document the journey of this unique startup.
Who is Rachna Rao?
Rachna was born and brought up in Mumbai till the age of 15. After completing her engineering in Chennai, she graduated with an MBA from the premier IIM Bangalore in 2006.
She had a successful IT career for more than five years in India as well as the US.
In 2012, moved to India from the US and joined Zynga, a social game developer which hooked millions to Facebook through Farmville, its agriculture-simulation game. She also became the lead product manager for Farmville 1 and 2.
“It was during my stint at Zynga that I realised I wanted to be in product management for the long run. It wasn’t as much about the paycheck as it was about the feedback we received from our players. They would get in touch with me, adding how invest-and-express games, especially like Farmville, brought joy into their lives. Something as simple as setting up their ‘farm’ and nurturing it, brightened up their day.”
So, how did the switch to Foodybuddy happen?
“The idea for Foodybuddy came to me in 2015. I never had time to cook for myself, and instead of having to rely on restaurants, I wanted options that were good for my body and health.”
Rachna’s husband, Akil Sethuraman, and her former colleague from Zynga, Anup Gopinath, are the co-founders of Foodybuddy.
While Akil could relate to Rachna’s experiences, as he also has a hectic work schedule, Anup and Rachna bonded while working together on a cooking game called Café World.
“It was also at the time that I started thinking about how India is such a culturally and cuisine rich country, and there is no dearth of passionate cooks. Unfortunately, either they did not have a platform to share their recipes, or people who wanted to be connected to them did not have direct access.”
The idea was to merely build a food delivery company but to empower those who cooked well and celebrate them.
Until January 2018, the team of three were the only soldiers in this army of Foodybuddy, but today, the team has 19 members who are making their vision a reality.
“Whether it is a 60-year-old grandma who is happy to feed the youngsters in her neighbourhood because she misses her children, or homemakers trying to build an identity and earn a regular income, our platform has home chefs from different backgrounds, and we give them full flexibility.”
Many of these home chefs are women who left their full-time jobs for personal reasons. Before Foodybuddy, their option was to either return to the 12-14 hour grind in a regular office job, which they couldn’t afford, or stay at home.
“Today, these women are not only following their passion, but they are also doing exactly what they love and are getting recognised for it. They have full flexibility to decide what they want to sell, where and when they want to sell it if there are any traditional delicacies (Andhra, Bengali, etc.), how many orders they want to prepare and if the foodies need to pre-order to avoid wastage, etc.”
None of them are anonymous. Their profiles have details of their expertise, the delicacies they prepare, test testimonials and reviews by foodies too.
Till date, this network of 2000 home chefs or buddies has sold more than 250,000 meals reaching 20,000 households.
Today these 2000+ active chefs send food out to more than 400 apartments.
More than 75,000 unique connections have been created between Foodies & Buddies, with the active monthly users as high as 30,000.
When the trio built the basic product, for close to a year, they met over 500 home chefs personally to understand their requirements and get their feedback. The effort seems to have paid off, looking at the extensive network they have built.
Foodybuddy has the largest base in Bengaluru with early interests in Pune and Hyderabad too.
In December 2018, it raised a round of funding of Rs 6 crore led by Prime Venture Partners.
When asked about how the startup is financially empowering these home chefs, Rachna shares that chefs who sell food regularly can make 25-30,000 a month.
But for many of them, it isn’t just about the money but the bonds it creates.
This reflects in the heartwarming impact stories of both foodies and buddies.
“It is overwhelming when home chefs get in touch with us saying, ‘Foodybuddy changed my life.’ So many of them have cooked for years for their families, but are delighted when a stranger compliments their cooking. Many of them have become mini-chefs in their apartment complexes. In fact, one of our home chefs is lovingly called ‘Yummy Burger Aunty’ in her apartment building,” she says.
Not just that, Rachna also shares that when the buyer and seller are both in the same complex, they often take the food to them, and sometimes sit and eat together, thereby creating a bond. Also, for the ones who live alone, the food reminds them of home and becomes an extension of a family meal.
If that isn’t heartwarming, what else could be?
While Rachna believes that anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur can become one, they should not do so from a purely business perspective.
“A business has both good and bad days. Believe in what you are going after, give it more than 100 per cent, and stay close to your mission. Don’t keep thinking about your next big idea which will hit the jackpot overnight. Only then, can you last through the journey,” she concludes.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)