If I say that India travels in trains it won’t be an exaggeration by any standard. Our railway system is extensive and always packed. Long lines at the ticket counters are something one can see almost at any station (big stations will have multiple such lines running parallel). Even with the advent of internet and irctc, the drop in the size of the line has been only marginal, this when the site itself is almost always under strain. I won’t even go into the tatkal hours.
The amount of commerce that is attached to the Indian railways is huge as well. Be it the street hawkers (or should I say the platform hawker) selling food or books or various assortments of things or the government authorized shops that are setup in all railway stations doing great business. Outside the railway station you will find a hundred hotels and restaurants waiting for you to get out of the station. The autos and rickshaws all combine to create a sector that has immense possibilities.
One such possibility is good food. A person who is travelling a long distance (more than a day for example) would need to have his meals as well. While most long distance trains have pantry in them but the train food is something that not many look forward to. Also, the variety is strictly limited. A person can take something from the station but one cannot guarantee the quality of such food as you can only get what is already made because of the time constraint of the stoppage.
That’s where Yatrachef comes into picture!
The idea is simple enough- Provide good quality food to people who are on the go. Anyone who is travelling can go online on Yatrachef.com and has to just enter his PNR number .
This way Yatrachef can plot the exact map of your journey. Then you will be shown places (stations) where you can get good food. You can place your order after that and you will get the food when you reach the station.
The payment is made only after you have received the food.
The model is of revenue sharing where Yatrachef has tied up with multiple restaurants in the country. Most are within 2 km or so of the station for speedy delivery.
According to Suchitra Sumadevi, cofounder and CTO at Yatrachef- “We focus on giving out the maximum number of restaurants per each station, so that the passenger themselves can order their favourite cuisines from the hotels they like. We are not making them order from what we have but rather what they want.”
The most important thing here is execution. They have to coordinate with all the food joints in quick time so that there are no lapses. In such a venture the trust of the consumer is most important.
With so many people traveling frequently they would be the most important customers and Yatrachef cannot afford to gain their wraths. Second is that this site would gain most from word of mouth therefore it would be very important to get as many satisfied customers as possible.
Also, I feel that the most important userbase for this site would be individuals traveling – families usually carry food with them.
I was checking out the site and as I checked the food options from Mumbai to Delhi in a particular train it provided me with a single option. This was in Kota and would take only orders of over Rs. 3000. The time is perfect at 7 pm in the night and for a family travelling it would be perfect. Unfortunately it would not serve well for people who are traveling alone. Such issues would have to be tackled.
Nevertheless it is a great start for the startup. There is of course competition with TravelKhana and MeraFoodChoice who offer similar services.
What are your views? Have you tried any such service and what has been your experience?