Open Talk @DSIM
An Interview with Shitiz Dogra, Co-founder at Firsteat.in
First Eat is a budding start-up based out of Gurgaon, aiming for holistic wellness with food as its epicenter for your health. For health freaks opting for diet plans as per their goal or intent, the biggest lacuna is the fulfillment of that diet. It’s easier said than done. Plans are available but who will fulfill that diet food for you? So for this huge gap, First Eat is the bridge. Every single food item on the First Eat app has been curated by nutritionists with calorie counted approach and measured ingredients for your health.
Ans. First Eat was founded in October 2015 by Mannat Wadehra, Rishabh Tickoo, Saikat Bagchi and Shitiz Dogra (me). We have been connected since childhood through friendship.
We Indians have a very reactive approach towards health and massive investments in health insurance etc. stand a befitting testimony to this. But what we all forget that good health is half taken care of if you eat right. And this is the paradigm shift in the mindset of the people that we wish to bring. First Eat aims to facilitate this by creating ‘awareness, availability and affordability’ of necessary healthy meals, by offering on demand freshly prepared healthy meals and diet plans options.
We all have worked in different parts of the country and observed that availability and affordability of healthy food still continue to be a pressing issue, more so for working population who are away from their homes. And, that’s how we decided to take a headlong plunge into this industry and fill this gap with the help of technology.
We are currently doing an average of 200 daily meals and 90 daily running subscriptions of Nutritionists’ recommended diet plans. Our average ticket size is currently hovering around INR 195-220.
Ans. We are not here just to sell food. We see ourselves as a health & wellness player. When we started last year, there were many food players in Gurgaon. So, how you differentiate yourself from other players and how you cement your brand’s image in line with brand identity was the main point to consider.
When we started off, we were pretty sure that food is not the only thing we are going to do. We did a lot of awareness activities, blogger meets, corporate wellness plans and nutritionist sessions to drive forward the idea of healthy eating.
When you are in a red ocean like food tech, delivery, and quality consistency are purely key differentiators but having said that marketing, brand perception and customer experience is what makes you stand out. This is what we have learnt in our short n sweet journey so far. Also, outsourcing any entity in the entire value chain of our business makes no sense, and we are very determined about that.
Ans. We take our CRM very seriously. It’s very important to have unbiased and honest feedback. When we started off, we harnessed third party players for our deliveries but it caused lot of issues. There have been cases in which delivery was a major issue as shared by our customers. So we decided to get rid of the practice and own up entire logistics and delivery. As of now, our repeat percentage is 67% and we believe it is very good conversion rate. It’s a testimony that we are treading the right path.
Ans. Many people have great ideas, but only execution matters today if you wish to survive. If someone wants to make a big noise, digital is a must. Technology has become kind of bedrock. Most of the time traditional marketing approach might not work whether you are a product or service, and that’s why digital is becoming indispensable. You see, nowadays most of the startups are tech oriented and have a massive presence online. Why? Simply because digital interaction with your consumer decides the moment of truth now.
Q9. Shitiz, If the Internet had not existed – what do you think you would be doing?
Ans. If the internet had not existed, we would have been carefully studying the daily life of our average TG. We would have been on ground and listening to our customer because he/she will be the one proving the worth of my idea ultimately. You can make a thousand plans, but if your customer is not even aware of your presence, what’s the point. Analyzing what his/her normal day would be like, what would be the avenues where you can interact with him/her and how to ensure that you grab their attention and leave a mark would form the offline strategy for the business.
Q11. What about the future? Where do you plan going from here?
Ans. As of now, we are operational in Gurgaon; we are planning to expand our operations across NCR and Bangalore, to gain traction within these clusters, through targeted marketing and creating a market for the robust tech product we are coming up with.