New Delhi: Foodpanda, the online food ordering and delivery marketplace owned by Ola, is in advanced talks to buy Mumbai-based food-tech startup Holachef Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, which shuttered operations nearly three months ago, two people close to the development said on condition of anonymity. In what is a distress sale, Foodpanda will acquire Holachef’s staff, brand name and kitchen equipment.

A potential acquisition would be the second within a year for Ola, India’s largest taxi aggregator. Last December, the company, run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, bought Foodpanda from its German parent.

A potential deal signals Ola’s aggressive expansion to compete in the online food ordering and delivery segment alongside players like Swiggy (Bundl Technologies Pvt. Ltd), Zomato (Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd) and the recent entrant UberEats India.

Ola did not respond to an emailed query. Holachef co-founder and chief executive Saurabh Saxena did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

Founded in 2014, Holachef, which delivers home-cooked food to customers, closed operations in April, according to one of the people cited above. The startup’s Twitter handle is flooded with customer queries about its sudden absence from delivery platforms.

Holachef, which was operational in Mumbai and Pune, had raised 2 crore from diamond merchant Ashok Kumar Gajera in February this year, according to VCCircle. The company backed by Ratan Tata, Kalaari Capital and venture capital fund India Quotient has raised $9.6 million cumulatively till date, according to data from Crunchbase.

Mint reported in April that Ola was also exploring creating an independent food technology company on the lines of Flipkart’s model and was in talks to buy food brand FreshMenu (Foodvista India Pvt. Ltd) along with another private label.

Last December, Ola invested $200 million in Foodpanda’s operations to mark its foray into the food delivery domain and is in talks to raise funds for the company, Mint reported. Ola also bought transportation delivery provider Ridlr (Birds Eye Systems Pvt. Ltd) in April.

Holachef joins the likes of Gurugram-based Twigly that three weeks back shut operations after being in business for three years, according to another person close to the development. Among other food-tech businesses, Spoonjoy (acquired by grocery delivery firm Grofers), TinyOwl, Yumist and Dazo had to shut shop as raising funds amid immense competition became increasingly difficult.

The food-tech industry is expected to triple in size over the next three years from $740 million in 2017, according to Ujjawal Chaudhry, engagement manager, e-tailing at RedSeer Consulting. Meanwhile, relatively new players like HungerBox and SmartQ are exploring niche services like digital cafeteria solutions and cloud kitchens to step up the food-tech game.

Close