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‘Vision To Turn 1000s Of Women To Entrepreneur’ Prerna Kalra, Co-Founder, Daalchini Technologies

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Prerna Kalra, Co-Founder, Daalchini Technologies talks about IoT based vending machines, tiffin services, supply chain, technology, women entrepreneurs and cloud Kitchens.

1. What is the story behind the launch of Daalchini? How did it all start?

Daalchini was started with a vision to turn 1000s of women to entrepreneur and create a unparalleled distribution channel. which is both physical and digital, through network of automated kiosks.

As part of its commitment of serving 6-meals-a-day, Daalchini is creating a sub-99 food store to enable brands in all F&B categories (like Frozen, Chilled, Meal-kits, Snacks, Bakery, Immunity Boosters, Healthy/Energy drinks, Yogurts etc.) reach their targeted audience and help them scale fast across multiple geographies.

Our Inspiration for Daalchini

While working at Paytm, I barely had time to cook breakfast/lunch or mid-day snacking. I found myself craving fresh home-food and snacks in the office and food delivery got tiresome, expensive and never matched schedule between meetings. During a work visit to China, I came across multiple vending machines that dispensed almost every kind of fresh food item from fruits to momos and more. Immediately this idea clicked in my mind, and I started doing research on whether it was possible to bring such kiosks back to India.

With the lack of ‘affordable’ distribution channels, the final cost of a home cooked meal to the end customer for a particular meal is doubled up. While customers are willing to pay this additional cost for restaurant food, they are unwilling to do so for home cooked meals or for daily in-the-go consumption, which meets their daily nutrition requirements. There was also a gap of Rs 40 on each delivery cost, and 40 minutes of delivery time, which was not acceptable when looking for the daily tiffin needs of the customers.

This incentivized to make Daalchini Vending Machines the new distribution channel for meal services.

Daalchini was started with a vision to turn 1000s of women to entrepreneur and create a unparalleled distribution channel which is both physical and digital.

2. How was the journey so far? Brief us about the challenges you have faced?

Daalchini has 430+ smart stores in 10 cities with more than 1.2 lakh Monthly-active-users. We have 190+ franchise and 100+ brands, 29+ Cloud Kitchens selling on our platform. Our platform has provided more than 5mn meals through our smart contactless solution. 68% of our customer are repeatedly buy month-on-month from Daalchini. Our Life-time-value/Customer-Acquisition-Cost which is an important parameter for an D2C brand is 3X of that of e-commerce due to high-repeatability and low retention cost for the brand on our platform

Our target was to enable our vending machines with fresh home food serving users in offices, hospitals, hostels, hotels, apartments, metro stations, educational institutes, etc. We target young professionals and students looking for affordable and instant food. Since, the pandemic hit our nation, we are now also available in residential societies and have also started mobility vending machines in cabs and buses in Delhi-NCR.

3. How Daalchini can reform the tiffin services using IoT based vending machines?

Initially, after setting up the vending machines, we faced the challenge when it came with home-chefs in terms of ascertaining the quality, as there were no set guidelines for them. We then started preparing our own checklist along with consultants and food-experts to find what it takes to convert a kitchen to a professional and certified kitchen. We helped them get all the licenses, got their kitchen audited and fully compliant. This became our bible and rule-book while on-boarding partners.

We employ a tech-driven, temperature-controlled supply chain which is not demand-driven but forecast-driven led by machine learning-based projection tools.

Our tech suite also uses IoT retail to keep food safe, healthy while allowing us to monitor it remotely.

4. Why are you focusing on cloud Kitchens?

Daalchini has revolutionized vending industry in India with its 6-meal-a-day concept. While the traditional vending machines only provide packaged snacks and beverages, Daalchini focuses on providing complete assortment mix with Frozen/ Chilled Meals, Meal-kits, Snacks, Bakery, Immunity Boosters, Healthy/Energy drinks, Yogurts etc. Hence, Daalchini has partnered with cloud-kitchens to enable them to cater to daily on-the-go-snacking needs of the customers in offices, institutions etc.

5. What are your key focus areas, expansion plans and funds expectations to drive business growth in the coming years?

Daalchini is creating a sub-99 food store to enable D2C brands reach their targeted audience and help scale fast across multiple geographies using the community of automated kiosks.

Daalchini has smart retail offerings for variety of on-the-go use cases drive daily retail across various channels and offer variety of foods & beverages under one roof.

Our solutions are available for on-the-go food for workspaces, hospitals, educational institute, hospitality, residential complexes as well as as cabs/buses.

We already have the Product-market-fit, in fact we have already started generating revenues at the Annual Revenue Rate of 14crore in March 2021.

Hence, to establish the platform such that it can be launchpad for micro-entrepreneurs in retail-tech space, we want to build following:

· Supply Chain and Logistics service for Franchise partners

· Suite of Smart Retails that can extended to more use-cases

Once the platform is ready, we will be scaling it up with following:

o Geographic Expansion to more cities – both in terms of supply chain and technology service

o Platform for D2C brands that can be a launchpad for them when entering physical retail beyond their existing digital footprints

o Build a community of strong micro-entrepreneurs

6. How do you make sure of hygiene and the quality of raw products at the workplace during covid-19? What about the hygiene factor?

At this time, contactless is key to safety. To this end, we offer a 100% contactless solution for 6-meals-a-day. Buying from unmanned Daalchini itself ensures social distancing, furthermore, we do regular monitoring of our refilling staff and also flash the refilling person’s body temperature on the screen. Specific to our kiosks, we ensure regular sanitization and the timings of sanitization are also flashed on the machine to instill confidence and a sense of safety among our users.

We are also trying to address the situation with the assortment of meals and snacks that we offer. For instance, we offer healthy and delicious ready-to-eat meals and meal kits. Also, we are introducing healthy bars and immunity boosters, which are the veritable need of the hour.

7. Tell us about your partners?

Daalchini has thus partnered with D2C brands in F&B segment specially in healthy snacking category, bakery units, cloud kitchens and tiffin services.

8. How vending machines provide fresh, nutritious and delicious meals that are suitable for any time of the day?

Break the fast; don’t skip breakfast!

A famous saying of all health experts. We usually tend to skip meals, especially breakfast in a hurry to reach the office before our bosses arrive, just to create a little more impression of a hard working punctual soul.

Daalchini prevents you from skipping the most important meal of the day by providing healthy home style breakfast items that would serve the dual purposes mentioned above.

Daalchini provides you the comfort of fresh home food without worrying about unhealthy aspects of items provided elsewhere. The food has no preservatives and serves as an ideal quick bite in offices.

In a world of instant gratification, good nutrition also provides the energy to meet deadlines, to stay focused during long meetings and to think clearly through complex tasks.

The right foods, at the right time, can increase your brainpower, help you beat the afternoon slump, increase your patience and reduce irritability — setting the tone for healthy work relationships, as well as a healthy waistline.

Sustain your energy levels through Energy Bars and Drinks- A little sugar is all that you need

Daalchini machine serves different types of healthy beverages for all kinds of people gym freaks or not, juices and energy bars to boost your sugar levels hence instilling the energy to refocus on work

Chai time snacks ! Oh Yes, A respite and refreshment from mundane office work

The all Healthy Daalchini Kiosk also provides your favourite snack items like Banana chips, Lite finger chips made of rice flour, soya katori, Maharastrian Chivda, Cinnamon Gurpara and the list is long to soothe your taste buds.

Occasional delicacies to brighten and lighten you up

Daalchini provides lip smacking delicacies like Suji ka Halwa, Gulab Jamun , all time favorite and iconic winter delicacy Gajar ka Halwa, home made brownies, cookies, plum cakes to make your meal complete.

9. How can one start their own Vending business with Daalchini? What benefits do you provide to your retailers? What are the benefits of Vending Machine Franchise?

If you are someone who is looking to start your own vending machine business or you are from a food industry background and start to generate more revenue with this vertical, then this franchise option will be beneficial for you.

· Increase in revenue

· Add new vertical to your existing business

· Large customer base

· Cross selling

· Great marketing opportunity for your food brands

10. What is the Cost of Vending Machine Franchise?

There are various models of Franchise which have different cost and profit sharing.

FOFO Model: Franchise owned Franchise operated.

· One vending machine costs Rs.100,000 to 300,000 depending on model you choose

· Franchise Fee: Rs.25,000

Returns or Profit or ROI in Vending Machine Franchise:

There are many ways by which you can earn or generate income from your vending machine.

1. First and primary source is sales from the machine.

The monthly sales of a vending machine varies from Rs.20,000 to Rs.1,50,000. You can get a good amount of sales at a location where footfall is very high like corporates, manufacturing units, colleges, etc.

2. Second source can be Rental income

You can provide your machine to your clients on a monthly rental basis. The rent can be in the range of Rs.2,000 to Rs.10,000 depending on the location.

For example, a location has 70 staff/employees only there you can charge high rentals similarly a location with a very high footfall, you can charge less rentals as you sales would be very high.

3. Ad Revenue

We are an enabler for other food and beverage brands hence they promote their products through us, launch new variants and cross-sell to their customers. This creates a good opportunity for us to enhance our returns as well as partner with them in their success

Source: Business World

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