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Exclusive: MealHopper raises $100K from ixigo founders, others

Avinash Singh with his team

Avinash Singh with his team

MealHopper, a food-tech startup that connects users with local cooks for homemade meals, has secured $100,000 in seed funding from ixigo.com co-founders Alok Bajpai and Rajnish Kumar.

Amit Dey, CEO of General Mobile Technologies, also put money in this round along with other unnamed investors, said Avinash Singh, MealHopper’s co-founder & CEO.

Gurgaon-based MealHopper Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs MealHopper, will use funding to grow local operations across the NCR region. The mobile-first startup would also make additions to its current team of nine staffers, Singh said.

“The investors behind MealHopper are stalwarts of the mobile industry in India. Apart from precious cash, they bring to us years of crucial hands-​on experience,” Singh said.

Functioning on a marketplace model, MealHopper leverages the under-utilised capacity of home kitchens. It ropes in housewives and homemakers to share meals with paying customers. MealHopper facilitates marketing, discovery, packaging, pickup and deliveries. It has around 50 homemakers on the platform.

“We shortlist homemakers after gauging their interest in working with us. This is followed by tasting sessions,” Singh said.

The company currently operates in Gurgaon and plans to launch operations in three more cities by March 2016. It claims to deliver about 100 meals every day.

The food-tech space has become a red-hot investment destination for both angel and venture capital investors. Startups in this space either offer an ordering platform from restaurants (Foodpanda, TinyOwl, Zomato and others) or run their own kitchens/cafes. Some serve ready-to-cook or ready-to-serve meal boxes.

The other set, comprising companies such as MealHopper, Bite Club, Yumist and SpoonJoy, connects consumers to independent chefs or offers food ordering from in-house kitchens.

Ventures such as InnerChef and iChef offer a platform for ready-to-cook products.

Yesterday, gourmet meals portal iChef.in said it has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Springboard Ventures, an investment arm of media house Times Group’s holding company Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL).

But lately, the food-tech space is showing signs of distress as few funded startups have either shut shop or are downsizing operations.

Mobile-only food ordering startup TapCibo Online Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operated under the brand Dazo, decided to close operations earlier this month.

Mumbai-based TinyOwl, which offers a location-based mobile app for ordering food, is shedding jobs.

Cash-strapped SpoonJoy, which is backed by Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, recently shut down its operations in Delhi and parts of Bangalore. On the other hand, food-ordering marketplace Foodpanda is revoking over 500 restaurants every month as it deals with allegations of operational irregularities.

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