I started to observe shopkeepers doing business on road and plight of employees working in large shops. With no investors to back them, I think it is right to call them as startups. Being aware that some of them are illiterate , with less exposure, I am fascinated with awe on their understanding of customer behavior and observing also made me ask this question “Why should innovation always scale?”
At Chennai, walking down T.Nagar. I observed a road-side shopkeeper offering new fruit options to customer. Fresh Mango was cut in to pieces and offered in sachets for sale. Sale of whole fruits was also available & sale of sachets of pineapple,gooseberry and jack-fruit.
I relished each sachet of fruits. On talking to one fruit-wallah,he shares that providing cut vegetables makes him sell more and offers better margins. He also adds that there is less negotiation and people are more happy to get things at convenience and less concerned of “Value for money”. Looks shopkeeper is leveraging convenience factor that is gaining importance today.
On last few visits to Trichy, I saw juice shop offering new approach. They neither have bottled juice drink nor have Colas and Pepsis. Juices are made in larger containers in morning and sold in small glasses at Rs 5 each. On offer, variety of fruit juices like lemon, pineapple, rose-milk are available. With place and containers clean, the whole atmosphere looks hygienic.
Find approach useful for poor guys to get healthy drinks at affordable price. Remember a coke bottle of similar quantity costs Rs 12 or more.
Let me complete with food startups in ITPL area, Bangalore. Some days I order food from freshmenu for lunch and some days I visit food stalls at roadside in front of IT companies in ITPL area. Fresh chapathi, parothas(south Indian), and omlette are made hot and sold on road . Offer includes non-veg curries and veg curries prepared at his home. The quality of food is evident from the crowd eating from shop. More evident when it drizzles and crowd still stands and eats in tree shade. Like equality where call center drivers & office boys are eating along with people wearing formal clothes working in IT companies.
Observing , I wonder what is value offered by food technology startups? The answer is to larger reach to customers and effective distribution.
As customer, what is important? Customer looks for quality food, variety and affordable prices. Preference is also to get food in nearby distance.
Once realizes that food stalls that produce good food , have decent variety and provide increased value to customers. these stalls are less concerned of customer engagement via social media or distribution logistics.
Where are food startups in a cooperative model like India Coffee house? No doubt of the potential to scale in food. Yes food startups like Adayar Anandha Bhavan or Subway scaled well. May be techies entering food industry should start with a food stall and learn nuances of business first.
Some food firms have failed to focus on customers and put their focus on things like real estate. Sure customers would not visit them and need help. Are technology startups supporting lazy inefficient food firms?