Indians have a penchant for visiting and the Railways is, by some distance, the maximum popular and available mode of shipping in India. A lot of milestones were executed since the first rail journey occurred in 1853. But we nonetheless shudder on the idea of ingesting train food. Getting great, tasty and hygienic meals (that too suddenly) on Indian trains is a tall order.
Coming with almost two a long time of revel in inside the software and technology industry, Pushpinder Singh, an alumnus of IIT BHU and BITS Pilani, based Travelkhana in 2012 to cope with this very trouble. He founded the business enterprise while there had been only apps or offerings that tended to pre-journey or publish-adventure requirements like reserving tickets and lodging. He says, “My work demands a number of touring and very frequently I had awful reports when it got here to food on trains.”
Since inception, the enterprise’s sole attention has been to tackle the pervasive hassle of offering fresh and satisfactory foods to travelers anytime everywhere on all major trains routes. And it could be achieved in a few clean steps through its internet site, app or helpline quantity. The automatic platform tracks trains in actual time across India and ensures that sparkling meals is added to the passenger on time.
When the primary-time entrepreneur founded Travelkhana, he knew he had a first mover benefit on this newly found section. But, it additionally intended that Travelkhana had to triumph over a variety of boundaries, as there had been no competition to comply with or research from, and specially so, since the carrier involved coming into a dreaded space that become, till then, operated totally with the aid of the government or government-backed gamers.
Opportunities and Challenges
Singh performed a small pilot project in Jaipur in early 2012 before launching Travelkhana in September that year. He says, “I needed to make 4 trips to Jaipur to convince the carriers and get things strolling.” He adds, “We also did our prison basis in this time and located that there was no regulation or regulation that stops non-public businesses from handing over meals on trains.” But that, of route, didn’t forestall the government-subsidized gamers from growing friction. Travelkhana has come a long manner due to the fact that then, as final 12 months the Indian Railways got here out with a coverage framework that allows personal players to supply food on trains. In fact, in advance this 12 months Travelkhana tied up with IRCTC to enlist its service on IRCTC’s e-catering internet site. But positive boundaries nevertheless remains – handling logistics in line with educate schedules, teaching and allowing providers, standardising meals first-class, acquiring new customers, and making the provider extra inclusive.
The educate grocery store is envisioned to be worth approximately INR 2000 Crore annually. And, with greater than 23 Mn passengers travelling each day, the Indian Railways definitely offers a huge market for the food-tech industry.
Innovation and Augmentation
Currently, the organisation is busy channeling most of its electricity into what Pushpinder calls a Virtual QSR version. Pushpinder says, “On seeing how efficiently big QSR chains like McDonald’s and Domino’s paintings, I started wondering why can’t or not it's replicated with the standalone eateries in India. So we concept to ourselves why no longer systematise the entire process across the country. For that we would want to deliver consistency in food protection, taste, packaging, pricing, and type. For example, a passenger journeying from Delhi to Bengaluru must get the equal type of veg thali—in phrases of fee, packaging, fine, and so on—at Bhopal and Kurnool. Consequently, we started operating on developing a virtual QSR space, wherein we are able to impart schooling to carriers and impose requirements. We are inside the process of making suggestions and norms on how to improve the high-quality of food and offerings.”
Here’s any other interesting factor perceived by means of Travelkhana.
Pushpinder says, “While doing studies, we came throughout a few European statistics and located that most people order from the same set of meals whenever. We realised that the same takes place with people in India too. So, now we are looking to parent a manner via which we are able to personalize the menu in line with individual alternatives and produce down the range of options for customers (show applicable alternatives most effective).” It is going with out announcing that this will be an uphill project and that big records analytics will play a major function in this thing – be it refining menu, or deriving patterns from customers’ behaviour, or verify teach schedules.
In March, Travelkhana had ventured into turning in specialties. Using the Holi season as a launchpad, the employer brought genuine delicacies made specifically places (Agra Petha, for instance). After a successful launch, the corporation is planning to expand this operation because there’s a massive demand for nearby specialties.
Operations and Services
Travelkhana acts as a managed market wherein eating places are related to travellers. Although the logistics obligation rests on the vendor, Travelkhana uses its technology to ensure that the delivery occurs on time and with none hitch. The New Delhi-based startup has a 70-robust crew that includes regional managers who're stationed in one-of-a-kind components of India. They comfortable proper verbal exchange with the companies and ensures that the meals and transport standards are maintained. Pushpinder says, “We depend upon feedbacks plenty. Acting on grievances is our first precedence. He provides, “Being within the provider industry, our item may be very clean – satisfy the customers.”
Apart from food transport, the website gives ancillary services like checking PNR reputation, tracking trains, checking ticket availability and train timetables.
Growth in Numbers
While the iOS app is due later this month, the Android app has seen over 1 lakh downloads. The organization has added over 1.Five Mn manner till now.
It has hitched up its supplier network from a hundred and ten eating places in 2013 to 1200 restaurants in 2016.
In 2013, the enterprise used to supply a hundred and fifty-two hundred meals consistent with day in 30 towns. Now it claims to supply about 3000-4000 meals (individual and bulk) in 160 cities.
Travelkhana’s subsequent phase of growth includes meals shipping services for long-distance bus passengers in towns like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Pune and Mumbai. Alongside, it also plans to check the waters in Delhi Metro and the suburban railway network of Mumbai. About suburban railway extension, Pushpinder says, “We have achieved a pilot. This is predominant enlargement. We expect this to come up inside the third area of 2016. Primarily this is addressing the want of the human beings to choose up in place of traditional delivery. The pickup points are comfortably located at metro and neighborhood stations. Portion of the financial savings at the shipping (enterprise standard is Rs 60 for each shipping) can be utilized to preserve the order satisfactory high and typical value to address the meal requirement of the every day commuter.”
The corporation has also partnered with startups like Oyo Rooms and Uber for pass-promoting to help its customers get proper transportation and lodging all through their journey. Travelkhana’s services are indexed on web sites like Coupondunia, Grabon, and Justdial.
Although Travelkhana had a primary mover advantage in this section, other businesses like Mera Food Choice, Trainkhana, Yatrachef, Railtiffin, Travelzaika, Idlywada, Khanagadi have also entered the market. IRCTC itself operates a less-delicate meals shipping provider in association with food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Dominos, Haldiram, Bikanerwala, Nirualas, Sagar Ratna, and Pizza Hut. Discernibly, differentiating itself from the others need to top the list of Travelkhana’s priorities right now.
Monetization and Funding
Travelkhana generates revenue by means of charging a commission of about 18-20 in step with cent (from the vendor) on every order made thru its platform. The employer registered a sales of INR 1 Cr in FY 2014-2015, even as the GMV turned into in the variety of INR 6 Cr.
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Pushpinder says, “We have grown 12 instances within the beyond three years and currently we sign in a month on month increase of 20%. Here onwards, our purpose will be to grow three times in the next 12 months.”
The startup had raised an undisclosed quantity of investment in October 2013 from Palaash Ventures, Rajan Anandan, and Matteo Chiampo. In 2015, it raised consecutive investment – a $1 Mn seed investment in September and an undisclosed quantity in series A round of investment in November 2015. Both those rounds have been led through Mumbai-based Astarc Ventures.
Pushpinder mentions five factors when requested approximately what differentiates Travelkhana from its competition
Full lifecycle orchestration using the tech platform
Strong relationship with Indian Railways and contribution in the coverage making procedure
Process pushed operations
Largest reach in terms of variety of stations
If there’s a clean winner on this whole setup, it must be the consumers. As the e-catering phase grows, opposition will boom, which in turn will bring about better meals and better services. As for Travelkhana, the e-catering segment guarantees a whole lot of scope for boom; mainly after the Railways spread out the INR 2000 Crore market to private players. It stays to be visible how properly the organisation capitalises on its innovations, expansions and current networks.