During a train journey in 2013, Arun Rajan came down with food poison due to the poor quality of food that had been served during the journey. That is when the idea of a delivery service for passengers ensuring quality food ordered by them, delivered in the train during journey, struck him.
Arun went on to start YatraChef, an online marketplace aggregator connecting Indian Railways passengers to food delivery services, making it possible for the passengers to place food orders to be delivered enroute.
“Even though railways is the lifeline of our nation, little has been done to take care of the passenger amenities which includes food, hygiene and safety. The problem of food is what we are trying to solve,” says Arun Rajan, CEO of YatraChef.
The Kochi based portal, currently has more than 250 services at over 100 locations listed on the portal, from which passengers can place their food orders.
The bootstrapped startup, which started its pilot run on 30th October 2013, has over 500 unique visitors daily, almost 150 orders a day on an average and has served nearly 10000 passengers since launch. For now their primary revenue stream majorly follows a revenue sharing model with services listen on platform.
Currently the company’s main focus is to introduce more number of food providers at existing stations, giving customer a wider choice of options. They are also trying to rope in popular fast food chains and restaurants for the service and also focusing on expanding their reach by adding more locations.
Rail Passengers Have More Food Delivery Options Than Ever Before!
Nasik based MeraFoodChoice (MFC) enables passengers to order local vegetarian food across 75 stations. Users can search and order via MeraFoodChoice’s website or phone either by using their Train number or PNR numbers.
Travelkhana.com, a meal booking platform, also connects train travellers with restaurants on the Indian Railways network and enables train travelers to easily place orders via website, phone, SMS, or mobile app.
Earlier in February 2014, the Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, along with the interim railway budget, announced the Indian Railways plans to launch an online service for booking of meals on trains at selected en-route stations.
The entry of the Indian Railways into the train food delivery service show that startups like YatraChef, MeraFoodChoice and Travelkhana are on the right path, but will have to face stiff competition from players like Indian Railways or IRCTC who already have a well established network.