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A micro enterprise with a macro aim

Express News Service

Vaibbhav Arora conceived BhojanTech, a food tech start-up, in September 2020 to provide affordable, wholesome, and home-style meals, and since then, managed to sell over 15 lakh meals and donate 15,000 meals in Delhi-NCR. It was conceptualised as an FMCG-styled distribution network associating with mid-scale retailers, Kirana stores, mass transit hubs and corporates working on a B2B2C model.

But recently, BhojanTech ventured into B2C model, and as part of it, they are offering seven-day, 14-day and one-month home delivery subscriptions only in select locations of Gurugram. “People in isolation, stuck in containment zones and even those suffering from mild covid and under home quarantine can subscribe and order hygienic and affordable meals thr ough WhatsApp on 9311419770,” says Arora. The affordable menu ranges from chota bhojan (breakfast and snack options) and combo meals at Rs 49, thalis at Rs 69-Rs 89 and biryani boxes, all under Rs 100.

“Our meals have a shelf life of six to eight hours as a result of our use of temperature controlled boxes,” informs Arora, adding, “If not sold, we help donate unconsumed meal boxes to the needy via our partner NGOs including (but not limited to) Robin Hood Army, Help Foundation or Zomato Feeding India. We bel ieve in zero wastage and thus never let any meals go to waste. Typically, 2 per cent of our meals are donated.” A total of 6,000 meals are cooked every day in four kitchens South Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, and one in Bengaluru. “These are distributed through retailers, institutional clients and now through our subscription delivery fleet.

We have a rotational menu just like at home and our recipes are wholesome and contain the use of healthy fats, fresh locally sourced ingredients, no Class II preservatives or artificial colours,” adds Arora, who has 14 years of experience working with brands such as HSBC, TigerTurf, and Zomato. It was the severe shortage of ‘food-on-the-move’ and affordable ‘food-at-home’, for a sizable population that led him to start BhojanTech. “Bhojan targets consumers who fall under an income range of 1.5-17 lakh p.a., which encompasses 43 per cent of the country pre-covid.

The latest numbers are not out yet, but this percentage will be a lot higher now. In short, we cater to all socio-economic levels, be it students, low to middle-income working professionals, elderly/retired couples, drivers or blue-collared workers,” he adds. With AI-enabled tech, kitchen automation and strict Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points processes make sure that every Bhojan is safe and consistent in flavour. The meals once prepared are packaged in premium boxes that are tamper proof so as to avoid any contamination. Arora says, “We are a young founding team, all under 40, acting as cogs in a well-oiled machine. We have 12 people in the central team in addition to our kitchen staff and delivery fleet. Our primary drive is to keep the costs low and the food fresh.

This is where the ‘Tech’ in BhojanTech comes in. We are building technology to cater to the imperatives of our business AAAQ i.e. affordability, accessibility, assortment and quality. We have a modular order management portal, AIenabled cameras that monitor everything from contaminants to food portions to the temperatures of the kitchen staff, IoT sensors used to manage inventory, minimise wastage and gather customer preferences.” And to keep up with their vision to ‘Feed Bharat’, you can DONATE A BHOJAN ([email protected]

“A simple guided process enables individuals or organisations to buy bhojan, indicate where they would like to donate the meals to and leave the rest to us. Every bhojan that a customer donates is cooked to order in our kitchens and delivered immediately to our NGO partners who then ensure it reaches the city’s vulnerable children, seniors, and families,” he concludes.

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