ZuperMeal, a mobile-only home-cooked food aggregator, has raised $2 million (about Rs 13 crore) in seed funding from popular Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Wonderchef co-founder Ravi Saxena and two unnamed foreign investors.
The three-month-old startup will use the funds to grow operations, upgrade its technology infrastructure and strengthen its team, it said in a statement.
Owned and operated by Zuper Meal Pvt Ltd, the startup connects home chefs to consumers via its mobile app.
"ZuperMeal is not a delivery service alone. It is a complete food business where talent is identified, their best dishes are curated, priced and presented by us," said Pallavi Saxena, founder of ZuperMeal. She added that the company aims to expand its service beyond the top 10 cities to smaller towns to include regional specific-cuisines.
Pallavi founded ZuperMeal along with two IIM graduates Balasubramanian A and Prabhakar Banerjee in July at Powai in Mumbai. She is the wife of Ravi Saxena, who along with Sanjeev Kapoor founded kitchen appliances and cookware firm Wonderchef.
ZuperMeal is looking to raise an additional $30 million investment for expansion. It claims to have 150 homemakers on its platform who dish out 60 to 70 meals a day on average, at a net margin of 15 per cent.
"Our idea of empowering homemakers through ZuperMeal is not just transactions, but we will also teach them various things regarding hygiene, food safety, storage and other health related topics," Kapoor said.
The food-tech segment has become a preferred bastion for VC investments. 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.
Restaurant listings and food delivery firm Zomato, which recently ventured into table bookings, raised $60 million in a fresh round of funding from Singapore government's investment company Temasek and existing investor Vy Capital. With this, Zomato has entered the club of 'Unicorns', a tag meant for startups that are valued above $1 billion.
Last 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.
Bangalore-based Bundl Technologies Pvt Ltd, which owns 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 expansion and brand building.
Bite Club, which operates 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 delivery start-up yumist raised about Rs 6.2 crore from venture capital firm Orios Venture Partners. TinyOwl has raised Rs 100 crore in its Series B round from Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, while Foodpanda has raised $110 million for its global plans.
The online food ordering business in India is estimated to be worth around Rs 5,000-6,000 crore, growing at about 30 per cent month-on-month, according to a report by India Brand Equity Foundation.
However, this segment is transactions-driven and margins can be wafer-thin. Not surprisingly, not all food-tech companies are doing well.
Mumbai-based TinyOwl, which offers a location-based mobile app for ordering food, reportedly shed jobs last month. The development was first reported by Mint, which said about 100 people in Mumbai and Pune had been given the pink slip. Cash-strapped SpoonJoy, a food-tech startup that had attracted investment from Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, recently shut down its operations in Delhi and parts of Bangalore. Mobile-only food ordering startup TapCibo Online Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operated under the brand Dazo, shut shop earlier this week.