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Kallol Banerjee on Rebel Foods' journey from QSR to cloud kitchen unicorn

What did Rebel Foods do differently to become India's first unicorn in the cluttered cloud kitchen market? In this interview, co-founder Kallol Banerjee discusses the journey and the way forward

Topics
Startups | unicorn companies | Indian startups

Harshit Rakheja  |  New Delhi 

In 2011, when it was born as Faasos, Rebel Foods wasn’t the cloud kitchen startup it is today. In fact, cofounders Kallol Banerjee and Jaydeep Barman had begun with the idea of setting up a high-street quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain selling wraps. So, what did Rebel Foods do differently to become India’s first unicorn in the cluttered cloud kitchen market? In this exclusive interview, Kallol Banerjee recounts the journey and discusses the way forward. Here are the highlights of the Q&A: Q. How does a Rebel Foods cloud kitchen function and what is the level of automation?

  • Rice for both Faasos and Behrouz Biryani cooked in the same kitchen
  • We automate processes that are repetitive or require constant supervision
  • We are designing machines that understand recipes
  • The machine instructs the chef when to add ingredients
  • Product experts, engineers and industrial designers automate kitchen processes
Q.

What goes into making a good cloud kitchen business?

  • Cloud kitchens are low rental, but have to pay delivery charges
  • Cloud kitchens can be relevant for different occasions and missions
  • It works only when you understand digital branding
  • Works only at scale, with multiple brands across several cities
Q. What has Rebel Foods done differently from its competitors?
  • Started life as Faasos with the QSR concept
  • We thought we would be the McDonald’s of India
  • Encountered challenges like dearth of high-street locations, and high rentals
  • Became delivery-only around 2014 – the first of our kind in India
Q. You have two brands in the Biryani segment in different price bands. What’s the strategy?
  • Once you learn how to make Biryani, you can call it 10 different things
  • There can be different quantities of meat and rice, slight variations in taste
  • Typical FMCG play: Like P&G or HUL have many washing powder brands
  • If someone tries to undercut Behrouz, I can fight the price war with The Biryani Life
Q. Your assessment of the Indian cloud kitchen market…
  • India’s cloud kitchen and restaurant market vastly underpenetrated compared to the US and China
  • Cloud kitchen is a typical Indian leapfrog story
We didn't have the infrastructure so we say forget dine-in

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First Published: Fri, November 05 2021. 08:30 IST
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