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Frshly looking to raise $7-10 million to expand in India and overseas
Monday, 13 August, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Automated fresh food dispensing retail start-up Frshly is now looking to raise $7-10million for its India and overseas expansion. The five-year-old company uses robotics and algorithms to serve fresh and hot food from the best restaurant brands within just 90 seconds. The concept is akin to cash withdrawal from an ATM.

“Currently, there are no automated fresh food retail set ups similar to ours globally. In 2013, we received $1 million from the United States-based PG LLC, and in 2016, we raised $4 million from Sakh Holdings LLP. Now we are scouting for funds to fuel our future growth. Investors are confident of infusing funds into this model, which is novel, profitable, scalable and has a huge market,” Satish Chamyvelumani, chief executive officer and founder, Frshly, told F&B News.

Frshly was conceived from train travel experiences for food access. There was an imminent need to solve the transit food problem. “We built a marketplace for restaurants and partnered with branded players reputed for taste, quality and hygienic food handling practices. Even though Frshly is an aggregation platform for restaurants, the brands that participate are carefully curated based on the market demand and quality. The technology keeps the food fresh and heats it up before delivering it to the customer in less than 90 seconds. All one needs to do is pick, pay and eat,” he added.

A prediction algorithm provides product data to the restaurants to prepare a set of dishes just before peak meal times. The food is packed, in our specific food-grade 100 per cent biodegradable trays and labelled at the kitchens. The labels log in the name of the food item, price,  time of packing and the shelf life of the product, which is usually six hours from the packaging time. The trays reach Frshly outlets and fed into the machine.

“Our proprietary technology automatically reads the food labels, displays the food item with the price on the machine, and keeps the food fresh. Once the food reaches its stated shelf life, our built-in algorithm automatically removes the item from the menu. When customers visits the Frshly outlet, they need to choose the food and make the payment on the device. The robotic arm picks it up, heats the food and dispenses it,” stated Chamyvelumani.

“Much of the design, innovation and technology are developed in-house. However, there are contractors to build the Frshly outlets based on specifications. Till date, Frshly has over two million customer orders. Revenues are expected to touch Rs 50-55 crore this year,” he stated.

“The 16 automated outlets are at railway stations, airports and information technoogy (IT) parks and corporate hubs across Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Pune. It has partnered with Travel Food Services (TFS) and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), besides popular restaurant brands. Plans are underway to launch at multiple airport locations across Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Innovative products and variations of technology are on the cards. It has nine patent filings for dispensing and packaging technology,” said Chamyvelumani.

In the next few months, Frshly will be in Delhi, Goa, and Ahmedabad. Talks with overseas partners are on. The intent is to create a global enterprise with over 1,000 outlets across countries  in the next two or three years. The marketing strategy is via social media, apart from its presence at food events. It has won awards, including the New Food and Beverage Concept of the Year organised by The Moodie Davitt Report and The Foodie Report.

There is a paradigm shift in food ordering where hectic lives increases out-of-home food consumption because of convenience and demand. This is where Frshly proves to be best suited as it provides fresh, hot food, in less than 90 seconds. However, the challenges are cost of technology and manpower.
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