Deepti Sharma Kapur, 25-year old CEO of foodtoeat.com is a quite and firm entrant to New York’s food delivery system. Where other competitors such as Seamless and Grubhub cater to restaurants, Deepti’s foodtoeat.com is the world’s 1st and only company, which allows you to order your food online from your favorite food truck across the road. With a double degree in Political Science & Business Management, her next logical step was to write LSAT. However, when this idea of introducing online delivery to food trucks came, it was simply hard to resist.
Deepti’s FoodtoEat has been featured extensively in the press, notably by Fast Company and under30CEO.We managed to catch up with Deepti, who exudes energy and confidence through her words and actions.
Here is the excerpt :
On FoodtoEat’s Services
1 When was FoodtoEat launched? Can you tell us about the services provided through FoodtoEat?
We launched our website in beta in June 2011. Based on customer’s feedback, we improved the service and it’s features along the way. After redesigning the website, it’s live in Feb 2012. We make restaurants and food trucks accessible to the end user, by using our online ordering system. No more waiting in line to eat your favorite food at your favorite place!
We do catering from your favorite places. With executive accounts in place, companies can now take care of their employee’s food needs in a hassle free way.
2 Congratulations on being the world’s 1st and only food truck online ordering system. How do you perform online ordering work with the low-tech food trucks down the street?
Thank you. We actually do in 3 ways : Emails, SMS and GPRS Printers.
When customer places an order, the vendor gets an email. He opens the email, and clicks on the link provided to confirm the order. Likewise, vendor gets an SMS and replies back while confirming the order. We also supply the vendors with GPRS Machines. These work very similar to telephone, and are battery operated. These methods make food truck vendors available to the customers, and help them to plan their day better.
We have a set schedule for the food truck vendors in our website. As food truck owners also get benefit out of our online ordering system, they intimate us when there’s a change in location or timings on any given day. The information gets updated back, and customers can only order from food trucks that are available at the moment.
3 What cities are you serving currently? Do you have any plans for expansion?
We are currently running restaurant and food truck online ordering in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We plan to expand to Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. in due course.
4 What are the initial hiccups you faced for this start up?
The food truck owners are a bit hesitant at first to trust a young entrepreneur, but over time we won their trust. When I was looking for tech team in India, people are bit skeptical and think that you are too young to be taken seriously. Other than dealing with people’s mindsets, I would say the rest was manageable.
5 We gather from your website, that FoodtoEat charges only $0.10 for an order, irrespective of the order amount. How does your business keep going with this model?
Yes, we want our favorite restaurants and food trucks to be in business. Unlike our competitors, we charge only $0.10 per order. We do get our profit by advertising to the restaurant and food trucks. Also, we do anonymous and/or aggregated reporting, which is then sold to 3rd party vendors.
We will not share any personal information with 3rd party vendors. At the moment, we do anonymous reporting. In future, there are plans to introduce personalized service, but that’s more for providing customer better information, and geographically based services.
As a company, Penny POS Ltd ( owner of FoodtoEat.com) understands that customer’s data is of utmost importance. And we take reasonable steps to ensure the data is stored on secure servers. We also encourage customers to post in public forums of FoodtoEat at their own discretion.
7 What was your initial investment? How is the turnover for FY2011, and what are the plans for FY2012?
My initial investment is $500K, gathered from friends and family. I would like to reserve the numbers for future declarations.
8 What are the various unique ways in which you tell the world that they can now order from food trucks through your awesome website?
We do social media a lot. You can find us on Facebook here. Also, interacting in start up discussion groups helps people to take notice of us. We did not try traditional means of advertising.
9 Can you tell us about the Executive Account service provided by FoodtoEat?
It’s a hassle free way of providing food service to your employees. At present, we have several Law firms, Financial & Investment institutions and Media houses using our service. Companies can decide how many of their employees will do online ordering, and we do bulk reporting and billing.
10 What are the future plans for FoodtoEat? Are apps available in iOS and Android for users on go ?
Yes, the apps are in progress. We plan to release them very soon. The app will first come out for Android, followed by iOS. As for the future plans, we would want to add more restaurants and food trucks into our huge growing database. As a business, we want to sustain and grow.
Currently, FoodtoEat has 6 people employed in New York office at the moment, along with the tech team in India. Deepti’s team majorly comprises of Sales & Marketing executives who find restaurants and food trucks and continue to add them to their database. ” I also work with lot of interns. They bring lot of fresh ideas to the table”, she says.
On Women in Business
When we ask Deepti on how is it to be a women entrepreneur, she responds – .”It is difficult to get people to take you seriously. Once the business has started and kept going, now it’s a bit easier to manage”. It is gratifying to see the immigrant food truck owners benefiting from technology, while not burdening them with the surcharges.
Do women entrepreneurs have any distinctive advantage over men? After some thought, Deepti says that women are not at advantage, but they are now definitely equal. She quotes, “As a women, we don so many hats at one time – being a mother, daughter, friend, colleague. All these roles give us women the much needed perspective and help them to make better decisions”. For life of an Indian entrepreneur in another country like US, she says that life is no different. “It’s all about building the business and sustaining it”.
Signing off, we ask Deepti to share few words of wisdom with women with high aspirations. Deepti draws her inspiration from the Nooyi sisters, Deepti asks her women friends never to take NO for an answer. “Never give up!” , once you set your eyes on the goal, keep looking forward. With right direction and confidence, tomorrow will be yours.
Take a l0ok at this video to know more about FoodtoEat :
We, at TheTechPanda think that FoodtoEat is really smart food delivery system. With the advent of new technologies and advertising, it is not always required to make the restaurant owner pay the online service provider. The concept of advertising to get their revenues, while keeping everyone else in the game happy is a pretty intelligent move. I ponder over, how feasible it is to get the fast food entering into the online food delivery in India. After much thought, I think the doors are wide open and we wait for the next awesome start up to do the same to us.
Here’s wishing Deepti all the best!