The market of homemade food is estimated to be more than $400 million on an yearly basis, yet it’s highly scattered, chaotic, and functions in a heedless way. To cover the entire market segment altogether with the motive to empower women, we came up with an idea to launch a digital platform ‘PinkAprons’.
To initiate with the process of launching a platform and building up the community, we first started connecting with home chefs to understand their battles and then capture the market. We realised that there were numerous challenges which they faced – from delivery to contacting new clients to obtaining raw material and packaging supply – to name a few. During the launch of the platform, we have tried to ensure the solutions for all these problems in one go!
PinkAprons is a digital platform for home chefs, particularly women chefs, to assist them in becoming entrepreneurs from the comfort of their homes and help them fulfill their passion of cooking and at the same time earning money from the same. We intend to smooth out the operations, build a rock-solid platform for home-cooked food, and empower more women to become home chefs and get them on to our platform.
Idea behind PinkAprons inception?
During the period of national Covid-19 induced lockdown last year, we witnessed that many families started facing financial crisis. The main reason behind their condition was that the bread earner of the family became jobless. Not only this, many people were stuck at different places away from their families and were facing issues regarding the availability of home-cooked food.
It was during that time we thought of launching a digital platform that could help housewives with exemplary culinary skills and help their families during the period of unavoidable circumstances.
At the same, this platform could help them to earn money by following their passion to cook and become entrepreneurs. It was that moment that ignited a flame within me for launching PinkAprons in August 2020. The primary objective was to create a platform that empowers female home chefs to become entrepreneurs and sell their home-cooked food to a large number of people.
USP of PinkAprons product and its services?
Our primary product is home-cooked food which is delivered directly at the doorstep of our customers. One of our startup’s most grounded USPs is that we offer meals that can be booked for a future date.
There are essentially two parts of our business: onboarding home chefs and motivating them to exhibit their culinary abilities, setting up a price, and then delivering the order to our customers. The other part is attracting more customers onto our platform to order and schedule their meals from PinkAprons. Our extremely efficient back-end teams handle connecting customers and home chefs and delivering food to their homes. We also offer Tailored meals (customised as per customer needs, authentic regional food made on order only with fresh ingredients) to our customers as well.
Talking about the variety of food, I would say we have nearly everything – be it any type of particular regional food, any intriguing bakery item, a healthy plate of mixed greens, or everyday meals (tiffin membership). We have Master Chef Competitors, delivery boy’s wives (with no past business exposure), Cruise Chefs (with 10-15+ long stretches of industry experience), who all have joined PinkAprons.
After almost 1.5 years, we are growing at a pace of 20-30% per month, delivering more than 2000 orders per month, serving a customer base of 20,000 foodies, and nurturing a family of 500+ home chefs, mainly from Pune and we will soon be expanding our operations in Mumbai and Gurugram as well. Our most significant success has been the avalanche of party orders and bulk orders that we have received from corporate, house parties, events, and other such sources.
Food delivery industry – Before and After the pandemic?
Before the pandemic, many people preferred to eat outside and enjoy the whole dining experience. But there was a constant rise in sales of food delivery platforms and many chose to order in, especially on those long working days.
When the lockdown began, there was a lot of chaos, and people had no idea what to do in this kind of situation. In the early stages of the lockdown, the food delivery apps incurred losses as they couldn’t deliver food. Once the lockdown was lifted, people were still wary of ordering food from outside. But with time, people adopted the new norms, and the food delivery market gained pace again, and since then, the industry has seen a rapid growth.
What were the strategies that have been initiated amid the national lockdown to overcome challenges?
The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on each and every individual, especially when the nationwide lockdown shut down all economic activities. But for us, the lockdown led to more awareness and sales for our business.
Most people were stuck at places away from their homes and needed home-cooked meals, and PinkAprons stepped in and provided many with hot and tasty home-cooked food. We also took it upon ourselves to provide quarantined patients at the hospital with healthy home-cooked food and deliver a part of their home when they were all alone.
Not only this, we have also started giving discounts and offers to our customers, so that they can get home-cooked food at an affordable price on a regular basis without spending much from their pockets. We also ensured that the food was prepared in a hygienic environment in accordance with all the Covid protocols.
How PinkAprons can overcome players like swiggy, Zomato?
Home delivery of food is not a new concept, and we have seen few platforms emerge during the pandemic as well, but none could handle the fluctuations in the market. There are platforms existing in the market like Zomato and Swiggy who are big players in the industry with millions of funding and facilities and we are not comparing ourselves with the platforms. But, we always wanted to be different with a motive of not only providing home-cooked food to our customers at an affordable price but also to empower women and grow as a community.
During the initial stage of the inception, the strategy we deployed to bring onboard home chefs and customers was primarily social media. Onboarding new home chefs, training them about online business, and building trust was a big challenge initially. When we started accepting online orders in September 2020, we had to face many cancellations; homechefs used to panic at times, sometimes customers didn’t want to wait for more than 30 minutes, timely deliveries, almost everything appeared to be challenging. However, eventually, we found solutions to these problems and became stronger and bigger.
Therefore, currently, we are Pune’s largest platform for homemade meals, with 20,000+ clients and around 1000 home chefs. Also, we are planning to expand our business in different locations in the coming months such as Mumbai and Gurugram, later Bengaluru and other cities too. Our best strategy is to generate more awareness and more traction for our platform.
What were the challenges you faced in order to become a women entrepreneur?
In India, nothing has come easy to women; we have always had to fight for our space anywhere we went, and becoming a woman entrepreneur was no easy feat either. In this space, women are always considered unreliable as they would focus more on their children and family than on their job. But people tend to forget that many women have juggled both personal and professional life successfully.
For instance, in the food business, I met few women home chefs who basically could never imagine a lady having such an extensive and successful food delivery platform, that she can also assist other women to realise their dreams. In fact, it is hard to persuade the general public that an intense deal like a business can be overseen and run by women. Be that as it may, ideally, things are changing, and I am very much hopeful about the role of women entrepreneurs in the industry. Nothing is impossible to achieve and dreams are meant to become a reality one day.
What is your advice to other women entrepreneurs in the industry?
Never stop dreaming, whatever may be the situation, don’t let go of your dreams. You and only you have the strength to make that dream come true, so protect it, nurture it, and most importantly, believe in it. You have the power to change everything, so be passionate, be curious, and never shy away from stepping out and making your dreams come true.
Tell us about your future plans?
● In order to reach to a larger audience, we plan to open our platform into more Indian urban areas, particularly metro urban communities like Mumbai, Gurugram and Bengaluru.
● The mission is to engage one million women home chefs through PinkAprons and make them accessible, financially stable, and essentially give wings to their culinary dreams. The vision is to trigger a homemade food revolution across India.
● We plan to raise seed funding for the business between Rs 2 crore to Rs 4 crore by finding a suitable Venture Capital accomplice. The funds would be allocated towards:
a) Making the technical side of the business more robust, versatile, and powerful.
b) Scaling up our activities to Mumbai and Gurgugram in the coming six months and afterward expanding to all metro cities by end of 2022.
c) Hiring talented people for overseeing operations and marketing.
d) On-boarding more home chefs and more women onto our platform.