When it comes to cooking, grandmas might just be the killer app. At least, that’s what FoodCloud has potentially uncovered.
Based and operating in New Delhi, India, FoodCloud is an online marketplace where home chefs can sell food they prepare in their kitchen. Customers order from menus from more than 3,000 home cooks on the FoodCloud platform, and meals are then delivered via different third-party delivery services. Founded in 2015, FoodCloud has served 450,000 meals to date.
“Homemade food is held in great esteem in India,” FoodCloud Co-Founder and CEO, Vendant Kanoi told me by phone, “It is looked at as healthier.”
To participate, Chefs go through a rigorous on-boarding process, according to Kanoi. First, each home chef must be registered with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is the country’s equivalent of the USDA, for kitchen inspection and hygiene regulation. After that, a home cook’s food is taste-tested by not just FoodCloud employees, but also local food bloggers and critics.
“It’s not just employees tasting food,” Kanoi said, “It’s not just about what we like, it’s about getting independent views from knowledgeable people.”
Kanoi said that 80 percent of the home cooks on the platform are stay-at-home moms. Among the most popular is a 91-year-old who sells gujurati-style “Nani’s Nasta,” which translates as “grandmother’s snacks.” Customers are pretty evenly split between busy families ordering a homemade meal for delivery and corporate customers getting food for meetings and events.
FoodCloud generates revenue by taking a 20 – 35 percent commission on the total value of an order placed. Taking up to a third seems pretty steep, but then FoodCloud is delivering the audience and facilitating the transactions and delivery. DishDivvy, a similar service in California, charges just 15 percent, but things like cost of living are different in India so the economics play out differently.
Kanoi said that roughly 15 home cooks on FoodCloud make $20,000 USD per year, and roughly 100 make $2,000 USD. That too, doesn’t sound like a lot (California’s AB-626 law caps the yearly income generated by home cooking at $50,000). But consider that the average per capita income in Delhi is just a little over $5,300.
FoodCloud is also diversifying both its product line and its geography. Last year the company introduced its own line of homemade CPG snacks, and FoodCloud is expanding its marketplace to both Calcutta and Mumbai.
Kanoi said FoodCloud is not profitable yet, but is “close” to being breaking even operationally. FoodCloud has sixteen employees and has raised roughly $500,000 in angel funding as part of the FoodX accelerator.
The concept of home-chef-as-a-business is just taking off here in the U.S., and is at the beginning of its regulatory journey. I asked Kanoi if there were any cultural differences between the U.S. and India when it comes to buying food from someone else’s kitchen. He didn’t think so, saying “It’s global trend now. People are moving towards healthier food and people view homemade food as a better option. And you get something while supporting an entrepreneur.”
While home cooking as a business is just taking off here in the U.S., a positive outlook like that may be enough to convert skeptics, and make any grandmother proud.