Startup Comfort Curries in talks to raise equity; Mumbai-based venture plans to widen its reach across city from January 2020

  • A total of $5.24 billion has been raised by Indian start-ups between 2014 and H1 2019, of which 56 percent has been for food-tech start-ups, according to a recent report

  • Comfort Curries is in the early stages of talks for raising equity so as to be able to expand its network and also range of cuisines

  • The online food delivery market in India is estimated to touch $12.53 billion by 2023 on the back of high growth rate

There are platforms that deliver home-cooked food and there are online sites where those interested to eat a particular cuisine can pay and have the meal in the warmth of a stranger’s family and return home with some good memories. In the crowded food startup sector, Comfort Curries has entered with specialty cuisine as its raison d’etre.

The idea was born when 27-year-old Hamza Bandookwala, a chartered accountant and former investment banker, decided to call friends home for a Bohri meal made by his 52-year-old mother, Fakhera. One of the guests at his table was Nishita, a friend who was crowned Ms Tourism some time ago. She loved the meal and went home and shared her happy food memories with her mother.

Bandookwala was taken aback when he got a called from Nishita’s mom with a request to make food for a Miss Mumbai contest they were hosting. The food to be delivered after 20 days was for 300 guests. Without batting an eyelid, Bandookwala accepted the order. Worse, he did not even consult his mother who had to rustle up the meal at such short notice. The matriarch’s blood pressure dropped alarmingly but she was game as well to meet the challenge.

 Startup Comfort Curries in talks to raise equity; Mumbai-based venture plans to widen its reach across city from January 2020

Hamza Bandookwala (right) with mother Fakhera and brother Huzefa. Pic courtesy: Comfort Curries

The next step was to rope in friends and brainstorm for a name and logo for the venture. Thus was born Comfort Curries to provide authentic (as Bandookwala claims it is) traditional food from a select repertoire of cuisines for who want to enjoy it in the confines of their home.

The first order was delivered with the help of temporary hires who were good cooks but had to be supervised to make traditional Bohri food as Bandookwala’s mother makes it. The startup was kickstarted with appreciation and demand for traditional food from friends with an initial funding of Rs 5 lakh that came from Bandookwala's savings.

Beginning with Bohri cuisine, startup Comfort Curries has expanded its bouquet of offerings to include Sindhi, Bengali, Rajasthani, Malwani, Parsi, and Gujarati fare. The average price range is between Rs 120 to Rs 500 for a meal per person.

Comfort Curries was launched in October 2018. "Within the first month, we had around 100 orders, excluding those for events. Within a couple of months, the volume increased to 2,000 orders,” said Bandookwala. The increasing orders meant the Chief Eating Officer (CEO) as Bandookwala calls himself, could not hold on to his regular job as an investment banker. “Much to my family’s dismay, I quit the job so as to focus on my startup,” he said.

The startup has been making revenues from the first month of its inception. There has been 100 percent growth in revenues month-on-month from the time of its launch, he said.

The business model

Comfort Curries has chefs from ordinary walks of life who are passionate about cooking, said Bandookwala. “Some of them have been participants of MasterChef, the cookery show on television, or are reputed and known among the community or friends for their culinary skills. Some of our chefs are favourites of the Bollywood fraternity, too,” he said.

To register on the platform as a chef, one has to apply to www.comfortcurries.com. Once the application is received, the startup’s team visits the chef’s home or office to check and sample the food and interview its creator. Besides, the team verifies the chef's credentials and achievements in culinary matters and also, how passionate is the individual about the food and the culture it showcases.

Food available on the website has a delivery period of 1 hour to 1.30 hours. For food that requires to be marinated overnight or entails elaborate preparation, the website has to be notified a day in advance. Customers can order online through Comfort Curries’ website, other delivery platforms, and through WhatsApp. There are three sections for delivery: ‘Instant Delivery within 50 Minutes’, ‘Instant Delivery within 1.5 hours’ and ‘Pre-orders’, based on the complexity of the dish and time taken to prepare it.

“Everything is cooked fresh and is available in limited stocks every day,” said Bandookwala. Presently, the startup operates in south Mumbai only and plans to cover entire Mumbai region in a year’s time.

The startup is in the early stages of talks for raising equity, as well.

Online food delivery market

The online food delivery market in India is estimated to touch $12.53 billion by 2023 on the back of high growth rate, according to a recent report by DataLabs by Inc42. The online food delivery market in the country is growing at 15 percent as against the global growth rate of 9.01 percent, the report said.

A total of $5.24 billion has been raised by Indian startups between 2014 and H1 2019, of which 56 percent has been for food-tech startups, the report showed.

"We aim to capture a slice of this market where customers are willing to go the extra mile for authentic traditional fare," said Bandookwala. It's comfort food time for those customers with a penchant for authentic fare and the many who have the skills to make traditional items from a particular cuisine and get paid for it.  Bon Appetit.

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2019 23:13:53 IST