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Food tech startup Box8 makes it easy to consume Indian food on the go, claims 10x growth

Mumbai-based Poncho Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates on-demand food delivery service Box8, claims it has grown 10x in the past 15 months and is expecting a double-digit month-on-month growth for the next 12 months.

Box8 claims to deliver Indian food to customers much the same way Western food like pizzas and burgers are delivered. The company claims its USP is to deliver Indian food in such a way that it can be consumed easily on the go. Operating currently only in Mumbai, Box8 has 22 delivery units across the city, serving over 2,000 transactions per day.

"About 80 per cent of our transactions come from repeat customers. Our philosophy is to build a long-term sustainable business," said Anshul Gupta, co-founder of Box8, adding, about 50 per cent of the orders originate from mobile devices.

The company, which was founded in 2012 by IIT graduates Gupta and Amit Raj, had earlier this month raised $3.5 million (Rs 22 crore) in a Series A round of funding from early-stage venture capital firm Mayfield.

Gupta prefers to call the company a food technology startup rather than a classic QSR player because he feels technology is the backbone of everything the company does.

"We own the end-to-end experience of our consumers because we own our technology, we own our product and we own our delivery. I think this is very critical in the food space," Gupta said.

The food technology space has gotten hotter in the recent months with a few companies raising funds from VC firms, while many more startups getting launched with several innovative business models, as per VC funding data of VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle.

In April, Bengaluru-based food ordering startup Swiggy, which claims to deliver food in 35 minutes, raised Rs 12 Cr from Accel Partners and SAIF Partners.

Delhi-NCR-based Bite Club 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 technology and delivery start-up YuMist raised about Rs 6.2 crore from venture capital firm Orios Venture Partners.

The biggest deal in this space was that of TinyOwl which raised Rs 100 crore in its Series B round from Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, while Foodpanda raised $110 million for its global plans.

The space has also got interest from players like cab aggregator Ola which entered the food delivery service with Ola Cafe in four cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Info Edge-backed restaurant listing and review startup Zomato started taking online food orders with a separate mobile app called Zomato Order.

Talking about the big rush in the market, Gupta said, "It's a good sign that there's so much interest in this market. It helps us and every other player in this market, as it was essentially non-existent a couple of years ago," he said.

According to Gupta, food is a very tricky, personal business. Therefore, he said, the firm's focus is to manage the entire customer experience for every single customer without having to involve any other party in the process. "That really differentiates us from the rest of the players in the market, and enables us to deliver a superior experience," said Gupta.

The company's current focus is to build the team, enhance the tech front and expand to more cities. "Execution is the key in this space. To do that, we need high quality people who can manage different verticals of the business and be independent leaders," Gupta added.

The company's immediate expansion plans include presence in five major cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Delhi. The firm is also looking to double the size of team from the current 30.

The company had previously raised an undisclosed amount in its seed round from Kaushal Aggarwal, co-founder and managing director of Avendus Capital, MuSigma's founder Dheeraj C Rajaram and Indian Angel Network.

Gupta said the firm will look into raising a larger VC round sometime next year as it plans to expand its presence in more cities.

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