promoting home chef with food mario
Co-founder of Food mario
Among the various food apps we have in the market, Food Mario sets itself apart from the rest easily. It connects home chefs and their mouthwatering food with the customers by creating a platform for these home entrepreneurs without them having to step out from their comfort zone to work. And the man who made this possible is Mr. Rohit Tiwari, the co-founder of Food Mario. To know more about the company and what they are doing, the following conversation is our interview with him.
WHY DID YOU START FOOD MARIO?
This was almost fifteen months back when I attended one of the boot camps where I met few of my mentors. We were talking to them about the food industry we have globally. As the food industry is growing exponentially, we see companies like Zomato doing so well. But all of these go on outside our country. When we talk about Nepal, we only have a handful of food delivery services which pretty much do the same thing from one another. This is why we wanted to do something little different from what we already had. We wanted to change the chain of delivering from restaurants to customers, hence we have home chefs instead. After the concept came in, we tried to connect all the dots, and we realized that these are the people who already have 20-30 years of experience in cooking. Most of them were women born in the 60s-70s who chose to stay home and use their skills to cook for their families and friends. With this thought we wanted a venture where we could collect people who are very passionate about cooking, who do not have enough capital to go out of their homes to start a business of their own, but want to explore the talent they have. Therefore, wanting to connect these people to the customers, we started Food Mario.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FOOD MARIO AS A NAME FOR YOUR COMPANY?
We don’t have a proper story behind the name. It wasn’t that we always wanted our company to be named Food Mario. After researching for the names we had in mind, we found out that they were all occupied. Some were available but were very expensive for a startup. Somehow, there was a company beside where we were located where they were playing games which brought the name Food Mario to my head. Then, we tried it, found out it was available and affordable at the same time, and that is how we got the name for our company.
TELL US ABOUT THE HOME CHEFS FOOD MARIO HAS. ARE THEY FULL TIME OR PART TIME?
So, in Food Mario, it is them who decide the timing. We have chefs who work full time starting from 8 in the morning to 9 at night. But, we also have chefs who would like to cook once a week. We have chefs who give half of their day to us. Overall, in Food Mario it is the chefs who decide their timings, and the price of their dishes too.
WE USED TO DELIVER 15-20 MEALS A DAY DURING OUT FIRST MONTH, WHICH WAS NOT MUCH OF A TROUBLE, BUT AT THAT TIME WE THOUGHT THAT IF WE COULD INCREASE THE NUMBER OF THE DELIVERY GUYS AND HOME CHEFS THE PROBLEMS WOULD SETTLE DOWN.
HOW DOES FOOD MARIO BASICALLY WORK?
When we get orders, we direct them to the home chefs. By then a delivery guy reaches the chef’s place and delivers it to the customers. And for home chefs to enroll, we have a protocol that they have to follow before cooking food. They have to wear gloves and caps, have a healthy hygiene maintained in their home kitchens. If they commit to all these things, they can start with us at Food Mario.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED SO FAR?
The challenges, however, have been increasing by the day. Initially, and actually, it was less challenging to what it is now. We used to deliver 15-20 meals a day during out first month, which was not much of a trouble, but at that time we thought that if we could increase the number of the delivery guys and home chefs the problems would settle down. But now we have realized that there would be an HR crisis if we have many people working as the delivery guys because some of them may not inform before leaving. Similarly, if we have more chefs, we may not be able to provide equal proportion of orders to all of them and we don’t want them to get bored. So, we are trying to balance everything out as we scale up.
HAS THERE BEEN DELIVERY NIGHTMARES?
Yes, the traffic we have in Kathmandu cannot be predicted. It can take 15 minutes today to reach to a certain place, but it might take 45 minutes to reach to the same place the next day. Due to these unavoidable circumstances, people have been very angry towards us. There have also been times when we delivered a different food item from what they had ordered.
HOW HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN SO FAR?
It has been good. The community accepted us really well. We are looking forward to our future endeavors and maintain our status in the society.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS WITH FOOD MARIO?
With Food Mario we experiment a lot. We have a lot of long run plans as well as some sprint goals we follow. We are planning to experiment on how to increase orders after 5pm or how to get home chefs active after 5pm. We just built a kitchen with all the resources like commercial ovens and state of the art burners, and along with it a system where people can come in, hire the kitchen and work to scale up their cooking skills. In this manner of promoting cooking, and thus the food industry, we hope to reach 3000 orders empowering almost 600-800 home chefs. Moreover, to make our app even smarter, if you are someone who has previously ordered only vegetarian food, the app will learn to suggest you the same kinds of food when you visit the app next time. This will help our customers to have a better user experience.
INTERVIEWED BY ANUSHKA SHRESTHA
PHOTOS BY GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR