Home / Companies / Start-ups /  As food tech industry struggles, Hello Curry eyes national expansion

Hyderabad: Indian-speciality quick service restaurant (QSR) chain Hello Curry Pvt. Ltd. that serves curries and biryanis, has tied up with multiplex operator PVR Ltd. and is in talks with established restaurant chains in metros as it seeks to expand its network at a faster clip to compete better with international fast food chains and Indian peers.

The Hyderabad-based food start-up, which set up 32 outlets in the 19 months since it was founded, aims to more than triple its outlets to 100 by December 2016, co-founder and chief executive Raju Bhupati said.

Hello Curry’s expansion plans come at a time the food tech industry is struggling to scale up. Food ordering startup TinyOwl closed its offices in Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi last week. Earlier in October, food tech startup Dazo wound up, a week after online restaurant SpoonJoy scaled back operations in Bengaluru and shut down its Delhi office.

Hello Curry has tied up with PVR to start kiosks at six theatres in Bengaluru and one in Hyderabad. Biryanis and rolls will be served at the seats of customers.

It will set up small format kiosks at three more PVR theatres in Hyderabad by the end of November, and is in discussions to start kiosks at PVR’s theatres in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, Bhupati said in an interview.

Movie-goers are an “extremely captive crowd" and can be converted into loyal customers of the brand, reasoned Bhupati. Pre-cooked biryani is sent in batches to the kiosks at theatres for consumption within a specific time period (of about three hours). This ensures that the food stays fresh and minimises wastage. Rolls are prepared on the spot.

Hello Curry, which raised 6 crore from early stage investor Sashi Reddi, is also talking to three restaurant chains in Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru to make its food in their kitchens.

Under the model, called KICK (kitchen in commercial kitchen), Hello Curry will bear expenses related to food and packaging while partner kitchens take care of cooking and delivery in exchange for 15-25% cut on each sale.

Over half of the 100 new outlets Hello Curry plans to open over the next 12 months will be in KICK format, Bhupati said. The target does not include the kiosks at PVR’s screens.

At least one other food start-up is experimenting with a model similar to Hello Curry’s. Bundl Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs food ordering startup Swiggy, is co-investing in restaurant kitchens to prepare food exclusively for orders on its platform—akin to a private label.

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