Culinate: Offers a world of intuitive service and infinite connections with its authentic experiences
Incorporated in November of 2015, as a concept to deliver international cuisine to its potential customers, Culinate brings the best of world gourmet for people who are constantly looking to challenge their pallet and experiment with their food. Culinate is a perfect blend of culinary i.e. putting together high quality & sustainable food ingredients and curate i.e. the art of finding recipes from across the globe. Within a short span of two years, the company has satiated more than 15,000 palates across Delhi NCR. Culinate is consistently striving to deliver an authentic experience to its potential customers.
The year 2015-16 was a very confusing time in food tech space with well-funded new players like Dazo and TinyOwl going belly-up. On one hand, established players like Zomato and Food Panda were cubing their growth massively while on the other, the brands like Fresh Menu amassed massive funding. In that light, Culinate started with a humble beginning with six employees and fifteen items in the Menu and by January 2018, it has grown to have cuisines from six continents with a menu spread of more than 250 dishes. With five outlets and one Food Truck, across Noida, South Delhi and Gurgaon, Culinate is all set to flicker the Delhi NCR market with its delicacies.
Unparalleled Value Proposition
Culinate stands unique and exotic in its offerings. It seeks to deliver to its customers, palatable regional and global cuisine with local sustainable ingredients and in the process contribute to the environment through water portability, increased use of organically grown ingredients, and biodegradable &non-toxic packaging.
Culinate is a full-service Dark Kitchen model invested in the entire value chain: running the kitchens, operations, Online ordering platform, backend technology and logistics that help the company command the customer experience. The company is doing various customer connect programs which is taking food trucks as well as setting up counters at various RWA and corporate sites. Also with a unique marketing model, Culinate is collaborating on wheels. Their food truck works in collaboration with RWAs, Corporate, and food festivals to provide people with live experiences. Recently, the company has also ventured into catering to private parties and corporate engagements and the response has been excruciating.
Core Values of Culinate
Culinate has four major planks as their core value as stated below:
|Portion control meals with proper Nutrition Information||Pressure Steam Cleaned kitchen and equipments||Exotic Menu||Sustainable cooking with 40 liters of water saved everyday|
|High use of organically grown ingredients, Zero Oil Meals||The Ultrasonic way of cleaning ingredients||Exotic ingredients||High usage of O3 Water|
|Non Cancerous cooking with German Weilburger C3+ PFOA free cookware||100% Certified Food Grade Packaging||Exotic Experience delivered at your doorstep||High use of Eco-Friendly Packaging|
Rajiv Kumar, the founder of Culinate, has been into management consulting for more than a decade before he decided to take a plunge into Food Tech space and establish Culinate, which is his pure passion. In 2017, Ashim Lal joined Culinate as Head of Operations, with over two decades of experience in Hospitality having worked with popular brands such as ITC Maurya and Holiday Inn.
Culinate deals with Blue Collared workforce in its business and imbibe mutual respect for fellow employees, which is the core of its work culture. While dignity of labor is a must, all employees are made to be a part of revenue center and are incentivized based on a unique performance monitoring system that has been created to cover from housekeeping to security guard to kitchen staff to operations to logistics to sales.
Culinate runs a program called ‘incentive to save’. All its division vis kitchen, logistics, and operations are incentivized to save for the company and their biggest saving till date has been near zeroattrition. The company has metricised the savings structure whereincentives are determined accordingly. All these factors have helped them scale at a steady rate without seeking external funding and sustain higher customer satisfaction which shows in ratings and repeat purchases.
For Culinate, it is Psychographic that helps them define their total growth which is aspiring and upwardly mobile. Customers, for whom food is just not a source of addressing hunger pangs are constantly experimenting with food and looking at ways to challenge their pallet. They are globally aware consumers who are looking for quality experience. Apart from taste and variety, hygiene thrives to be an important factor to look after, which the company definitely does. The cuisine of Culinate is designed to suit the average office goers and senior executives alike and that is the segment which orders repeatedly and is also the fastest growing segment in food ordering.
More than anything else, food gains popularity through word of mouth, thus, organic growth is the first strategy of Culinate. Its customer service matrix looks for hack growth through prompt users to refer at key moments. The company has set up channel market fit for growth like hub models for delivery and central kitchen system. Its finishing kitchens are fed from the central kitchen and in-turn caters to efficient, on-demand deliveries.
Culinate is looking at creating smart pickup points across office areas and residential hubs in the front end. Building a chain of high-quality suppliers, insulating from price fluctuation of raw materials, creating environmental friendly & sustainable packagingand a proficient team of cook &delivery boys with an operation who works in harmony keeping the food and service quality unaffected are some of the challenges that Culinate anticipates.
Currently, the company is working on two parallel concepts – first is Culinate in Wheels, a food truck that acts as a marketing vehicle, not necessarily a Point of Sale. Second is Culinate on Greens, a French Bistro concept with open-air lush green lawn and children’s play area where families can relish and bikers can rejoice after a weekend ride. The first Culinate on Greens is expected to be all set by May 2018 in Noida and the company is working on a similar concept for Gurgaon as well.
Delhi NCR is a huge market and is growing rapidly. Therefore, in order to walk hand-in-hand with the fast pacing market,Culinate has set its goal of opening more stores in similar format focusing on the west and central Delhi. As they look to grow their food delivery business, they also aspire to become food, lifestyle & wellness stop. There is a difference between serving food and serving a consumer and Culinate is driven to be known for its consumer-centric approach.
The company is also looking for a good investment partner, a partner in growth and disruption. Money is only one object; it would like to benefit from their experience, influence, and intelligence.
The Impediment to Growth and Strategies to curb them
On one hand, brands are leaving no stones unturned to pamper, cajole, attract as well as incentivize customers to make a purchase. This has its own fallacies and discounting has become a part of the value proposition. Bootstrapped companies struggle to maintain their bottom-line with constant discounting. On the other hand, social media has become a powerful tool for customers to voice their opinion on their experiences. In such a situation, reputation management becomes a challenge for companies like Culinate considering food as more personal than even clothing. Expectation management becomes overpowering at times.
However, Culinate’s differentiation is the ease with which it manages the enormity of its Menu and offers choices to its customers. The company understands the fact that they are not a daily meal company so what works in their favor is the rising trend of eating healthy, more authentic and trying out new recipes. For five days a week, it becomes difficult for people to go out for a good meal, thus, Culinate offers doorstep gourmet meal menu management for customersto experience the authenticity and overindulgence.
Culinate works on the principle “When in doubt, throw it out”. It consistently seeks to maintain the good quality and hygiene is of paramount importance to the company. They communicate with their customers on a regular basis to build a democratic ordering platform while enabling customers to customize their delicacies as per their requirement.
The Company’s Diversification Milestones
Food as a viable entrepreneurial pursuit is very challenging, considering the fact that one needs a plethora of licenses just to sell even a sandwich! Despite contributing to highest employment, hospitality sector has huge skill gap. Word of mouth is a very slow and painful process and it is nearly impossible to satisfy everyone’s pallet. Now add to the fact that Culinate is bootstrapped, which limits its ability to reach out. The only recourse then is Quality, standardization, optimum use of technology to improve efficiencies while attaining scale and relentless focus on bottom-line. The training program of Culinate is meticulous and stringent in all departments from order taking to order making to order fulfillment. Since Culinate is invested in the entire value chain, it is, therefore, able to command superior customer experience.
Launched in November 2015 with one kitchen, six staff, and fifteen items in the menu, Culinate has come a long way within a short span of three years. Let’s have a look at its diversification milestones –
January: Introduced Biodegradable Non-Toxic Food-Grade packaging
March: Menu diversified to 90 items from across 20 countries
June: All day Breakfast got launched and soon took the leading position in the breakfast category in Noida
September: Became the 3rd food company in India to deploy Ultrasonic Technology for cleaning Veggies and meat
June: Constructed new 5000 sq. ft. base kitchen with HACCP & ISO 22000:2005 standards also deployed water porting technology saving 24-40 litres of water per day
October: Services started in South Delhi
December: Opened 3rd outlet on Noida Expressway
January: Launched Food Truck Culinates on wheels for events & other touch points
March: Inaugurated two outlets in Gurgaon with a total number of five outlets across Delhi NCR
April: New menu was launched with 250 items from across 30 countries
Currently, the company has approximately 15000 customers, 50000 orders, 75000 meals served with 80 percent repeat orders.