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Hot plate: Biryani startups entice investors and foodies alike

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Chennai: A plate of yummy biryani is not tantalising tastebuds of food connoisseurs, but is also catching the eye of investors. Biryani makers in the quick service restaurant (QSR) space are raking in funds and topping the orders chart in the food tech space.
Biryani by Kilo and Charcoal Eats which bagged investment in the last 12 months are witnessing double digit growth.

“While Biryani is a universal favourite among foodies, catching the eye requires innovations with respect to packaging and recipes. Combining their favourite dish as well as a pizza or a burger gained popularity among consumers and now we are seeing a 100% growth, opening 2 outlets every month,” said Vishal Jindal, co-founder, Biryani By Kilo. The operationally-profitable startup recently bagged $ one million in a pre-series A funding by Ajay Relan of CX ventures and others. The overall investment in the range of Rs 10-15 crore in 2 rounds. Biryani By kilo sees a turnover of Rs 30-40 crore a year, selling close to 50,000 orders every month.

The startups that work in a dine-in and delivery model see close to 60% of orders coming in from deliveries. With Swiggy data shows chicken biryani tops the order chart nationwide, these QSR startups have the dish pasted on top of their order sheets.

“The market was unorganised so far with regional players dominating the space. Even as we pivoted from a pure-play Biryani firm to offering starters etc, the dish contributes to 60% of the total number of orders,” adds Anurag Mehrotra, founder, Charcoal Eats that serves up to 1,000 orders a day. The company raised Rs 5 crore in a pre-series A last May.

Other ventures that have attracted investors include Mani’s Dum Biryani in Bengaluru, Gurgaon-based Biryani Blues, Ammi’s Biryani and Paradise Food court. Considering data from research firm Venture Intelligence and from individual companies from 2012-13, such firms have seen investments over Rs 150 crore, including Faasos, which sees its biryani brand Behrouz develop into an brand worth Rs 65 crore .

Investors add that with Biryani being the staple food, recent innovations in packaging have rendered scalability to the business. “There is no need for creating a new taste or cuisine. A consistent experience can gain a dedicated customer base. These are some of the reasons why investors find it worthwhile in backing biryani-based small chains,” said Ajay Relan, founder, CX Ventures.

Offices contribute to most of the business, as orders come in from corporate professionals aged between 25 and 32, companies add and with compact packaging, the dish could soon replace pizza.

“The dish being ubiquitous, recipes are common and service-based differentiation such as money-back beyond 30 minutes of delivery attracts consumers. The consumer who places the order is already hungry and quick service will be a selling point,” said Raymond Andrew, founder, Biryani Blues, which saw investment from Carpe Diem investors. The company sees a 92% growth y-o-y, with 65,000 orders a month with an average ticket size of Rs 550 per customer.

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