Indians love their food; more so from restaurants—no matter how big or small. With the forsaken virus, while dining out took a hit, ordering in became the latest fad. Seeing many entrepreneurs jumping onto this bandwagon, Pawan Shahri of London Taxi, along with fellow entrepreneur Dhaval Udeshi, set up India’s first Delivery Startup Incubator Programme, Taxi Incubator. Shahri tells us more. By Bayar Jain
1. Tell us about your Delivery Startup Incubator Programme.
During the first lockdown, we [Shahri and Dhaval Udeshi, co-founder of Taxi Incubator] saw many first-time entrepreneurs enter the food delivery space with great ideas and experiences. Although, with the course of time, issues like funding, infrastructure, technical know-how and lack of industry experience led to them shutting their businesses down. We were in constant touch with many of them—to guide and mentor them. It was then that we realised that the key to saving jobs and helping the industry stand up in the post lockdown world is the need to promote entrepreneurship along with ensuring a sustainable business atmosphere.
The Taxi Incubator programme works on these two main pillars. We’re incubating and completely funding five entrepreneurs who have great ideas, the will to drive and grow their brands, and a vision to manoeuvre through these times. Our team of experts and investors provide them with infrastructure, manpower, sourcing, marketing and finance training.
2. How are you extending help to budding businesses?
We help incubated brands with end-to-end support to start and grow their business. This includes, but not limited to, infrastructure, equipment, manpower resources, sourcing produce and equipment, financial planning, marketing and awareness, sales programme and expansion.
As a part of this, our core team of experts—headed by Udeshi and I—with a combined industry experience of more than 100 years are personally involved in mentoring the brands to ensure their final output and standards meet industry expectations.
3. How can one approach you for advice or help?
One can simply log on to our website and fill a simple form along with uploading a base document of their idea. While going through the ideas, we look at the suitability of it in the current market and expected future market. We also ensure that the incubated brands are exclusive in nature to the cuisine and structure within the programme.
4. What should one keep in mind when venturing into the hospitality industry?
The agenda of venturing into any business, not only hospitality, should be clear: to be profitable. Many people enter the hospitality industry in a bubble and prioritise the same using explanations like networking, socialising, side income stream, innovation and education. If the motive is not to run a profitable business but something else, it’s not going to work and hence, swing backwards.
5. Your biggest learnings during your tenure at your respective restaurants?
Our single biggest learning over all these years has been that our team is our biggest asset. Our restaurants at the group level are only as good as our teams and the systems that they follow.
6. Three tips for setting up a restaurant in India.
- Ensure you understand the market well; do enough research around it.
- Seek professional help for setting up and management.
- Get your concepts in place and find a location accordingly.
7. A less explored cuisine in India, according to you?
We have so many regional cuisines and their variations that have not been explored as much yet. Himalayan cuisine and the far North-eastern cuisine would top it for me!
8. If you need to order in, what’s your go-to meal?
I’m always in for comfort food for home delivery. For me, it’s a sushi platter or a great pizza pie.
9. Your predictions on the future of the culinary industry?
The change in the Indian culinary system post lockdown will be massive. Firstly, dining-in businesses have changed forever. The city is now divided into pockets, and people will prefer dining out in their pockets. Travelling for dining is going to take a major hit.
Secondly, delivery businesses are here to stay. Every restaurant should adopt it as their major earner and build it in a way to scale it further. This will ensure that the business is always rolling.
Thirdly, the real estate game is going to take a big hit. The deals and prices for dine-in restaurants will come down significantly, which will make it more sustainable for businesses to work in the future.
Editor’s Note: Keeping the current situation of the pandemic in mind, T+L India recommends every reader to stay safe, and take all government-regulated precautions in case travel at this time is absolutely necessary. Please follow our stories on COVID-19 for all the latest travel guidelines.