Consolidation is inevitable in the Indian food technology space and only a handful of players will survive over the next few years, according to Alok Jain, co-founder and CEO of meals ordering startup Yumist.
"There will be consolidation...ten years from now, all these restaurants will just be kitchens in the cloud. That's where players like us are going to survive. Every single vertical will have just one or two players but it's all good for the customer," Jain told Techcircle.in.
Jain's comments come at a time when the food-tech space has started showing signs of distress. Few startups have either shut shop or have downsized operations.
TapCibo Online Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operated under the brand Dazo, closed operations earlier this month. Mumbai-based TinyOwl, which offers a location-based mobile app for ordering food, recently shed jobs.
Cash-strapped SpoonJoy, backed by Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, closed down operations in Delhi and parts of Bangalore. Foodpanda is revoking over 500 restaurants every month as it deals with allegations of operational irregularities.
Two weeks ago, restaurant listing and services company Zomato said it was laying off around 300 employees worldwide, or nearly 10 per cent of its workforce.
Jain and Abhimanyu Maheshwari founded Yumist in October 2014. It offers homemade food and primarily serves office goers. Customers can place orders through its Android app and the company claims that food will be delivered within 30 minutes. It provides options such as Rajma Rice, Chicken Rice, Aloo Paratha and so on.
Yumist claims that its app has been downloaded about 40,000 times already. It currently delivers in Gurgaon, South Delhi and Bangalore.
"Many food-tech startups target restaurants. An average Indian eats once in 10 days from a restaurant, while there are 29 other meals in those 10 days. This is the market we target," said Jain.
Recently, Yumist said it is moving away from the app-only approach by enabling its website to take orders. However, the company will continue to take orders on its app. In February, Yumist had raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Orios Venture Partners.
Yumist counts the "dabba-walla" and "corporate canteens" as its primary competitors. In the next few months, the startup will revise the price of its meals to lure more customers.
Startups in the Indian food-tech space either offer an ordering platform from restaurants (Foodpanda, TinyOwl, Zomato and others) or run their own kitchens/cafes (Box8, Dropkaffe, Frsh.com and others).
Companies such as MealHopper, Bite Club, Yumist and SpoonJoy connect consumers to independent chefs or offer food ordering from in-house kitchens. Ventures such as InnerChef and iChef offer a platform for ready-to-cook products.