Online food delivery company Foodpanda has picked up enormous funding and is on an acquisitive and marketing binge, making comparisons with bigger rival Zomato inevitable. Rohit Chadda, Co-founder and MD, Foodpanda, talks to Goutam Das of Business Today about the growing rivalry.
Q. How did you become a co-founder in Foodpanda?
A. It is a German company now, but we started as individual entities in different countries. Rocket Internet was the principle investor. We started in Singapore, Thailand and shortly after, in India. After finishing business school, I went to London. I was an investment banker. I came back to India and started a venture in the healthcare space in corporate wellness. It wasn't really doing well-we figured out that in India, employers were not too keen to provide wellness to employees. This was in the beginning of 2012. Then I got in touch with Rocket Internet. I found the concept interesting and I did it.
Q. How much time does it take to execute the model Foodpanda follows?
A. I would break it up into placing the order, and then processing the order. Placing the order doesn't take time. How much time the restaurant takes to prepare and deliver the order depends on the restaurant. If the order doesn't get delivered on time, he can either go to the restaurant or come back to us. We believe that the customer is a Foodpanda customer. So we make sure the restaurant delivers on time. Based on performance, we keep filtering the bad restaurants that are not honouring the delivery times. (Foodpanda has now started its own delivery service in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore).
Q. What was the competitive landscape like when you started out?
A. JustEat and Tasty Khana (both acquired by Foodpanda now). There were other local players, but there wasn't anybody big nationally. We were the first ones to expand nationally and quickly. It is the customer-centric approach. We selected the right sort of restaurants and made sure we weeded out the bad ones. It is the focus on customer experience that helped us grow very quickly. We have 12,000 restaurants after the acquisition. We were 5,000 before JustEat and Tasty Khana.
Q. There is emerging competition in the delivery space in Zomato. They are a discovery platform while you are not. It is easy for Zomato to add delivery now …
A. We are a specialised discovery platform. You discover delivery places on our platform. I don't know why you say we are not a discovery platform. We are an aggregator. So what do I think of Zomato? I think it is great for the market. It is going to help the market grow much faster. In the classic marketplace war between Quikr and OLX, a lot of people learnt about e-commerce because both were trying to the build the market. More players will only help in growing the market.
Q. Zomato has more restaurants. So they have an advantage …
A. I don't they think so. All the restaurants they have are not delivery. While it still might be more than us, it still doesn't affect things too much. Because it is not about having all restaurants. We prefer to keep the quality restaurants. Food delivery is time critical. It becomes very important to have a good experience. Zomato has done what they have done. They have been around for a very long time. We both have our own advantages.
Q. Where does the trick lie? What would determine the winner?
A. How do you define a winner is the question. I think it is going to be the customer experience - technology, product, the kind of restaurants you have, the service you provide. In technology, it is the interface, how easy it is, how quickly it is processed and then delivered. The entire lifecycle. We have a global platform-one app that runs in all countries.