Homelyji, a Mumbai-based start-up, began its journey in the ever-so-competitive tiffin service sector very recently. Team Optimist spoke to its co-founder and CEO, Varghese Abraham, on his plans about Homelyji. Excerpts…
Team Optimist: What’s been the idea behind Homelyji? Why did you choose Mumbai to launch this tiffin service-based start-up?
Varghese Abraham: I think the craving for homemade food hasn’t been addressed properly until now. Many startups have attempted this at different levels, but, till date, no one has succeeded in providing authentic home-style food. The seeds of the idea behind Homelyji germinated when I was working as a research intern at Coffee Day Beverages. At that time, I used to order food online every day. Since I had to rely regularly on fast-food, I lost my appetite and started having complications like hyperacidity. That’s when I started looking for tiffin services that could provide me ghar jaisa khana daily.
It was then that I realized that the food wasn’t pocket-friendly at all and neither was it something I really wanted to eat. Besides, the amount always was more than what a single person could eat. So, once again, I started hunting around for tiffin services and found that there were many local tiffin service providers, but none had the convenience of ordering online. That’s when I thought this was a major problem for those living away from their families.
‘Just like Mother does’
“Why not bring all the tiffin service providers in the city who served home-style meals and had professional kitchens together?” I thought. So, Homelyji is a concept that basically focuses on providing home-style food cooked “just as Mother does”. And Homelyji was born.
Homelyji has two product portfolios. The first is the Homelyji Express for instant meals. People can avail of the Homelyji Express service between 10 am and 10 pm within 45 minutes of ordering from Goregaon to Worli, in Mumbai, and the entire city of Pune from June 13, 2019.
The reason for choosing Mumbai was because it has had the most appealing run in daily, subscription-based tiffin services. But, apart from tiffin services, we realised that there were also many people who craved individual meals. So, for people who would like to order only on certain days, we began an on-demand lunch and dinner service. That gave rise to the idea of Homelyji Express.
While studying the market, we found that Mumbai and Pune were the most likely cities to welcome a tiffin service and ghar jaisa khana. So, Homelyji came into being as a one-click solution for home-style meals in both the spot-paid and subscription-based formats.
Team Optimist: Do you think home-style food is in demand by office-goers now? Is fast-food losing the game because of health concerns?
Varghese Abraham: I think home-style meals have always been sought-after by office-goers. Most people are inconvenienced as they can’t cook or find it difficult to carry it to office. I feel people have been craving home-style meals because eating out daily is everyone’s cup of tea, so to say. In fact, people would like to have home-style food for one time meals, too, as that’s the healthiest meal one can have. In restaurants, the gravies, colouring and preservatives added to food are not much appreciated as today’s generation is extremely health conscious.
We realised that home-style food without preservatives or colours was the need of the moment. Offices, too, whether big or small, serve very low-quality food to their employees. In a random survey, we found that 90% of the employees didn’t like the food served at office because of repetitive menus and predictable taste. And fast food has, obviously, lost the game on health considerations.
Team Optimist: Do you think the start-up has more possibilities in the government sector, or the IT sector? Which healthy tiffin service has proved to be more popular — lunch or dinner?
Varghese Abraham: I believe that, in whichever sector you’re addressing customers’ problems, there’s scope to move forward.
Between lunch and dinner, I’d say lunch has been the more appealing choice. But, yes, dinner hasn’t been compromised either. Both have been equally important and popular. One who’s hungry at office will be hungry at home, too!
Team Optimist: Will Homelyji rely on other e-commerce platforms, or is it going to use its own inventory?
Varghese Abraham: Homelyji will not be relying on any other e-commerce website. Homelyji has its own highly equipped website and Android and iOS applications, where customers can avail of its spot-paid services from 10am to 10pm, or the monthly tiffin service.
Team Optimist: What’s going to be the USP for Homelyji in Mumbai’s competitive tiffin sector environment?
Varghese Abraham: Homelyji doesn’t compete in any way with any tiffin service in Mumbai. Homelyji believes in serving the customer the best and the customer’s yours. We don’t like to compromise on quality, taste, delivery or packaging, besides an efficient customer support service. So, Homelyji’s USP is to serve the best ghar jaisa khana at its customer’s doorstep in the most convenient way.
Infrastructure, volumes and logistics
- Homelyji has its own website, homelyji.com
- Besides, it has iOS and Android applications
- The infrastructure includes delivery support and kitchen support, where the entire logistics is technology-driven
- It also has a good infrastructure in terms of kitchen availability in almost all the areas it serves
- Homelyji has a fleet of 500+ delivery boys across the cities where it serves over 10,000 orders/day