Customers bought into my idea sooner than my family did
Potato crisps, credit cards, chemicals, cakes, workshops… there’s little 33-year-old Deepanshu Manchanda hasn’t tried to sell. In 2015, he and Shruti Gochhwal, his colleague from digital wallet company Mobikwik where they worked, realised that the on-demand grocery space was booming but there was very little attention being paid to fresh meat delivery. Manchanda tells Amin […]
Potato crisps, credit cards, chemicals, cakes, workshops… there’s little 33-year-old Deepanshu Manchanda hasn’t tried to sell. In 2015, he and Shruti Gochhwal, his colleague from digital wallet company Mobikwik where they worked, realised that the on-demand grocery space was booming but there was very little attention being paid to fresh meat delivery. Manchanda tells Amin Ali how much he lost and how many times he failed before building Zappfresh, a business that’s raised $3.4 million in three funding rounds, the most recent round being the pre-Series A funding from Amit Burman of Dabur India and SIDBI Venture Capital.
How did the idea of meat delivery service come to you?
When Shruti Gochhwal and I worked at Mobikwik, we met people from grocery delivery services who talked about how hard it was to deliver meat. That gave us the idea of exploring options for such a service. We did our market study in November 2014, and realised that most families wanted a convenient and clean meat delivery service. They liked eating meat but did not like going to a local butcher shop. Convenience and service in this category was missing. Coming from a business family that’s also a meat-loving Punjabi one, I knew this idea would work. After working on the brand name and logistics, we started a pilot project with our own funds of Rs 40 lakh in June 2015.
What were initial challenges?
We started from one room in Gurgaon where the butcher would come and prepare the meat that would be delivered. The days he did not come, Shruti and I did everything from cutting, cleaning, packing to delivering the meat. We were very conscious of how we spent our funds.
How was your idea of an online meat delivery service received?
We started with about 20 orders a day. We were convinced about our idea and knew it would work. I had earlier started an educational consulting firm and an organic bakery. Both had flopped, but they had taught me what works, and how I can make a living. When I told my family that I was starting something again, my family was worried that it would also fail. My marriage broke down and friends and family did not like the idea of me quitting a stable job to start a meat delivery service. No one understood the vision we had.
We got seed capital and moved to a bigger space. In order to expand our operations we needed more manpower. Our key workforce was butchers. Finding people with right skills was a big challenge. Setting up the supply chain for quality meat was another major challenge as we had to stand apart from other operators and highlight quality and freshness.
Were investors receptive to the idea?
We faced a lot of rejection. Unlike other tech ventures, we did not have any numbers on meat consumption to share. Even if investors understood the idea, they did not know what growth it would achieve. We knew there was demand for fresh meat that could be delivered within three hours to people’s homes. After working with our own funds and conviction about the success of our idea, we finally met Amit Burman and SIDBI and raised $3 million . Today, we operate out of a 12,000sqft state-of-the-art unit in Gurgaon, employ 175 people, and deliver over 1,000 orders a day.
What are the future plans? Do you plan to expand to other cities?
We deliver across NCR. The market here is huge as well-travelled youngsters are going experimental with their meat consumption and demand quality products. Marinated ready-to-cook meats are in demand. Our meats are priced higher than the local shops, but customers know the value we offer. We need to penetrate the huge market in Delhi-NCR fully before venturing further.
To order, visit our new website.