01 April 2016 09:10:21 IST

Delighting customers with gourmet food

From caviar to couverture chocolates, Gourmetdelight delivers it all

Raka Chakrawarti

It was not just her sheer love for, and understanding of, exotic food that led to a business idea; it was also the curiosity of her guests.

Raka Chakrawarti, a former public relation professional with Tata’s Indian Hotels and Company Ltd, used to get numerous requests from guests at the Taj, inquiring about a ingredient or recipe, and where they could find a vegetable or sauce. This led her to realise that Indian consumers are increasingly aware of gourmet and exotic foods.

After a year long due diligence and market survey, Chakrawarti decided to launch Gourmetdelight, an e-tailer of exotic, organic and imported gourmet food products, from handcrafted blue cheese to caviar, in 2015. She wanted to sell these at an affordable price without getting into deep discounts.

Chakrawarti launched the company with her own savings, but is now looking to raise $3-4 million.

Gourmetdelight is an inventory-led online player that sources its products directly from the farmers or producers in India and abroad. It focuses mainly on organic products, which form about 40 per cent of the inventory; the rest are imported gourmet products.

“Indians are travelling abroad and are becoming aware of gourmet products more than before. This gives me an opportunity to offer them their choice of food products which are not easily available in the market,” said the 40-year-old entrepreneur.

Chakrawarti, who worked with the Taj Group for about 11 years, quit her high-paying job to enter a market that is worth around ₹13,000 crore in India and is expected to grow six times by 2018. According to reports, gourmet food consumption is set to grow 45-50 per cent annually.

Rapid growth The high-end segment — such as truffles, caviar, single origin exotic coffee and couverture chocolates — is growing rapidly, driven by innovation in posh restaurants. These are not readily and authentically available in regular supermarkets. The basic/generic segments such as imported cheese, pasta and olive oil are growing 25-30 per cent yearly.

Gourmetdelight closely works with about 200 vendors across the country from whom it sources products directly, avoiding middlemen, so that it can bring down the cost for its customers.

“We are also working with importers but over time we will look at partnering with brands and getting artisan products into the country. We are adding two-three vendors every 15 days. We also ensure that these vendors have proper government recognised certifications to grow organic food,” Chakrawarti said, adding that at present gourmet food is bought mostly through the offline channel, and is very expensive as much of this is imported.

More cities The company, which is now operational in Mumbai and Pune, is looking at 12 more cities by year-end. It is targeting revenue of ₹100 crore in three years. “We already have about 500-600 unique customers in Mumbai and Pune and the average billing size ranges from ₹1,200 to ₹1,500. We are growing at 250 per cent month-on-month,” she said.

As it expands, the company plans to increase its team strength from the current seven to 20. Chakrawarti said she doesn’t want to get into the rat race of faster delivery and will instead focus on good consumer experience.

Gourmetdelight does its own delivery but might soon look at a specialised logistics partner. It plans to launch an app in a couple of months. Food-related logistics remains the biggest challenge in India, pushing up prices, observed Chakrawarti.

She also plans to launch organic lunches. “We are working on the dynamics of this particular business and will be launching in a month or two on a pilot basis,” she said.