Great Laker Rajiv Sharma (PGPM 2007) talks about his venture "Jolly Food Fellow" and his entrepreneurial journey in this article on Financial Express.
Ahmedabad-based start-up Jolly Food Fellow (JFF) has brought together two of Gujarat's most prized possessions-the entrepreneurial spirit of the state and its cuisine-and created a platform showcasing the wide range of dishes available across the state.
Set up in 2015 by Niraj Harlalka and Rajiv Sharma as a marketing and branding platform for food vendors, JFF uses videos to reach out to its customer base. Based on the idea that "you eat with your eyes", JFF has its own website and applications on Android and iOS, which allow food vendors to display their choicest food items through the video format. It has crossed 6.5 crore consumer impressions, with 1.6 crore video views since it went online. JFF aims to reach 100 crore views per month in five years' time.
The two founders met over their love for food. Sharma, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and co-owner of a popular juice outlet in Ahmedabad, felt that retailers were getting a "raw deal" and was looking for a branding and marketing solutions provider. Harlalka, who has an information technology background, was looking for a project which would be a vehicle to reach the masses.
JFF is also gearing up to build the world's first "food profile engine". A dedicated team is working towards gathering data on consumer behaviour based on its mantra, "Data is the new fuel".
Harlalka explains, "Our platform, which should be online in two to three years, will show people the food they like, the people around them, and the places they would like to go to. We already have profiled 4 lakh food items which are currently in our database."
The start-up is also keen on working with augmented reality. "We will bypass the virtual reality (VR), and move straight into the augmented reality (AR) system. This should take 16-18 months. Then our revenue model will be directed more towards targeted advertising," says Sharma.
Currently, the start-up does targetted promotions for food outlets, at a cost of Rs 30,000-50,000 per video. JFF also offers top-up services for mid-segment restaurants, which can cost the outlet about Rs 5,000. The restaurants pay as per the views received and the engagement factor on the video which is uploaded via JFF's Facebook page and website. It mostly generates revenue from fast moving consumer goods companies, who pay for videos made using their products like spices or oils. All of this allows the founders to reach out to small street vendors, who are featured free of cost, all "for the love of food" says Sharma.
"We have 150 merchants already, and now we have our own standards on how the videos must be shot. We make suggestions and restaurants make changes based on our recommendations. We bring in the best practices, and we are building a community of restaurants," explains Harlalka.
Bootstrapped initially, JFF received its first round of funding in February last year through angel investors, and is now looking for more funding to kick off the AR foray.
"We are getting repeat visitors on our page from places such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu with very diverse cuisines. We are growing month-on-month, with each video now receiving a lakh views in one day itself," Sharma beams.