In this land of plenty, food delivery apps have become as ubiquitous as takeaway menus. Gourmet food, healthy food, ‘home-cooked’ wholesome food, ‘ethnic’ food and ‘dirty’ (junk) food are all readily available, has this brave new world of food delivery reached saturation point? Not according to Rahul Parekh, CEO/Co-Founder of EatFirst part of the new breed of food delivery services that have disrupted the takeaway industry:
“Food delivery services are responding to consumers’ busy lifestyles, and as result the future of the restaurant sector will be centred on online platforms, simplicity and the provision of quality, healthy and locally sourced dishes. With longer working hours leaving little time for cooking fresh cuisine, the appeal of more sophisticated, nutritious and convenient ways to dine-in is significantly broadening. More companies are taking advantage of this demand resulting in increased competition which will only benefit the customer – receiving a better price and quality from these services.”
I am speaking with Rahul over the phone where I am ‘grilling’ (pardon the pun) him about EatFirst, which is still in its relative infancy; it was set up in August 2014 by Rahul who left a lucrative career as an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. Rahul was joined by Berlin –based Humberto Ayres Pereira and Torben Schulz who both run the Berlin side of the business.
The founding trio are all from relatively staid corporate, financial backgrounds; both Humberto and Torben are former Consultants; one can only imagine that the transition from corporate to entrepreneurship would have its challenges; however Rahul’s transition appears pretty seamless, he cites working in a more flexible role as one of the key changes:
“The big difference from going from a corporate environment where everything is so structured to going to an entrepreneurial environment; whether you are starting your own business or going to work for a younger, start –up, the stark contrast is the typical day. My typical day now is far more varied; from hanging out in the kitchen with our chefs in the morning to doing media interviews in the afternoon, or going out on deliveries with our drivers.
“Coming from a structured environment makes it easier when planning your day particularly when you have so many things you are trying to achieve in one day.”
Hailing from the corporate world has its advantages especially when it comes to planning and executing a new venture:
“We evaluate everything from a performance perspective; who are our best customers? What did they like about the business? What did they not like? How often do they come back? There is an analytical mindset around everything especially in a vertically integrated business such as ours – whereby we have to make sure that our sourcing and wastage is under control and our teams and logistics are working efficiently.”
Described as one of the world’s leading online restaurants – where top quality, fresh cuisine is prepared and cooked by Michelin restaurant-trained chef Jane Tran; Benn Hodges (Roka and Itsu); Marcel Brixel (Four Seasons); and Daniel Budde (Tim Raue). EatFirst has already secured over $8 million in investment which will enable significant growth beyond London and Berlin where the service is currently available.
Employing the services of high calibre chefs is certainly advantageous, what else sets EatFirst apart in the overcrowded foodtech world? “We spend a lot of time on recipe creation and making sure that we have variety; we have a multitude of different international cuisine.
“We find that our customers come back to us very regularly – there are menu changes every single day.”
In addition to the varied menu, like most modern restaurants EatFirst, has vegetarian, vegan and gluten –free options; created in part due to Rahul’s interest in healthy eating (he’s a vegetarian) and customer demand. Incidentally, Rahul’s current favourite lunch choices are: Roasted butternut squash salad; and the Aubergine Parmigiana. In fact it was Rahul’s quest to find healthy lunch options that formed the early inspiration behind EatFirst. A meeting with German –based incubator Rocket Internet, secured by a former Goldman Sachs colleague who had gone on to set up a business with Rocket Internet’s backing, led to Rahul’s idea of delivering healthy fresh food from an online restaurant being fully realised:
“We were able to take advantage of the services that Rocket provides; we had access to operation and marketing teams, they gave us the finance to set up, they also provided us with accounts. Rocket had all the necessities required for setting up a business in place; as a lone entrepreneur it would take a lot longer to take your product to market.”
Rocket’s aforementioned support has also enabled EatFirst’s relative rapid expansion, after operations in London were set up, Berlin followed shortly after; having London as a blueprint certainly helped ease the expansion:
“When we launched in London we really tried to understand the market – to find out what people wanted. We then replicated this for Berlin.
“Humberto and Torbin started in London, and were able to quickly gather a team in Berlin after spending time on the ground in London during the initial phase of the business.”
Social media coupled with the most primary form of advertising – word of mouth has really propelled EatFirst. “The food business is primarily based around building a credible brand; people like to talk about food, like when you eat at a great restaurant you want to tell your friends about it. A customer will come to us and try our product because they heard it was good, social media helps with referrals and also getting the word out quickly.”
In just under two years EatFirst have done extremely well via the delivery of over 100,000 meals which has resulted in a 30% month-on-month sales growth. Yet, despite impressive numbers there is still work to be done, Rahul explains what he and his partners are looking to achieve in the not to distant future:
“Over the next few months we are looking to launch the lunch service in Berlin – we already have this in London.
“Sometime next year we will love to launch in another European city and our biggest goal is to become the biggest online restaurant in Europe.”
After making such an impressive impact I have no doubt that EatFirst’s future plans will be realised, their business model comprising of an ever changing menu, gourmet chefs, fresh, healthy nutritious food and not forgetting efficient delivery times – all perfect ingredients to serve up business success.
For more information about EatFirst please visit: www.eatfirst.com