The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI’s) Mumbai Chapter held the first edition of the Cloud Kitchen Convention spearheaded by Pranav Rungta, NRAI Mumbai Chapter Head and Director of Mint Hospitality and Rachel Goenka, NRAI Mumbai Chapter Head and Founder and CEO of The Chocolate Spoon Company. The event left an indelible mark on the future of cloud kitchens in India with 40+ distinguished speakers and 700+ attendees from all over the country.
It was an exclusive and first-of-its-kind event by the industry, for the industry, where prominent stakeholders from the cloud kitchen space got together and shared extensive information, knowledge and cutting edge insights on the subject.
The first panel moderated by Anurag Katriar, Founder and MD of Indigo Hospitality spoke about ‘Creating a profitable Cloud Kitchen Business’ with insights from Anshul Gupta, Co-Founder of Box8, Kabir Bose, Co-Founder and CEO of Burgernama and Bansi Kotecha of Founder of Kytchens highlighted the importance of product differentiation in securing customer loyalty, Anurag Mehrotra, Co-Founder and CEO of Charcoal Eats and Raymond Andrews, Founder of Biryani Blues delved deeper into Single Cuisine vs Horizontal play in Cuisines and Mohit Gupta, Co-Founder of Zomato commented on aggregators and the question of them being a boon or bane for cloud kitchen businesses among more.
Discussed in the second panel with Sagar Daryani, NRAI Vice President and CEO and Co-Founder of Wow! Momo Foods as the moderator was the ‘Roadmap to Raise Money and Scale the Business’. While the investors, Rochelle Dsouze, MD of Lighthouse Funds, Ashvin Chadha, Co-Founder of Anicut Capital, Angel Investor, Hari Balasubramanian and Vikram Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner of IvyCap Venture Advisors, elaborated on the perception of cloud kitchens, evaluation criteria, red flags and more within the investor community. The investees, Raghav Joshi, Co-Founder of Rebel Foods and Vishal Jindal, Founder and Co-CEO of Biryani BY Kilo spoke about what makes an ideal investor and their learnings so far.
The session on the ‘Role of Technology in Cloud Kitchen Efficiency’ took place with the third panel. Moderated by Rahul Singh, CEO and Founder of The Beer Cafe, the discussion focused on the future roadmap of technology and food interplay. The operators such as Raghav Verma, Co-Founder of Chaayos, Vedant Pasari, Founder of Edabba and Abhimanyu Maheshwari, Founder and CEO of Zing Restaurants, debated on technology being a support system or lead, its role in generating higher revenue, margins, expansions and overall user-experience based processes. The tech company representatives, Eshwar K Vikar, Co-Founder and CEO of Mukunda Foods, Shaival Desai, VP, Growth of PetPooja and Dhruv Dewan, Co-Founder of Thrive Now, discussed the areas where technology plays an important role, measurable impact of automating processes and the five-year plan for kitchens.
The fourth panel on ‘Winning Strategies and Possible Pitfalls’ was moderated by Riyaaz Amlani, CEO and MD of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality. It was an interesting conversation between panellists Gaurav Gite, Founder and Director of Marrakesh Hospitality, Zorawar Kalra, Founder and Managing Director of Massive Restaurants, Tarak Bhattacharya, Executive Director of Mad Over Donuts, Jasper Reid, Founder of International Market Management, Rashmi Daga, CEO of Freshmenu and Ajay Mariwala, MD of Food Service India. They shared insights on what makes a cloud kitchen business tick, and at times fail including the learnings, stumbles and anecdotes.
The final panel on ‘Cloud Kitchen Marketing – How to stand out amongst the crowd?’ was moderated by Gauri Devidayal, Co-Founder and Director of Food Matters India with the panellists each sharing their experiences. Murali Krishnan, Co-Founder and CMO of Wow! Momo Foods Pvt. Ltd. spoke about the role of branding and FMCG style marketing strategies, Dheeraj Gupta, Founder and MD of Jumboking on creating top of mind recall and the importance of a physical presence, Swapnil Bajpai, AVP of Sales for Swiggy on digital marketing strategies that work well for Swiggy partners, Shailee Chatrath Tyagi, Director of Organised Trade Channels for Pepsico India Beverages on partnering with cloud kitchens in marketing and brand building and Rahul Khanna, Director of Azure Hospitality and Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar on the importance of word of mouth marketing and difference in marketing strategies – Restaurants vs Cloud Kitchens.
The convention commenced with a lamp lighting ceremony and address by Pritee Chaudhary, IRS – Regional Director of FSSAI, West Region followed by a welcome address by Kabir Suri, NRAI President; Director of Azure Hospitality. The opening keynote address by Kallol Banerjee, Co-Founder of Rebel Foods showcased the importance of incorporating cloud kitchens into the Indian restaurant industry with the example of Faasos’ journey to achieving success.
This mega convention concluded with a closing ceremony by Pranav Rungta and Rachel Goenka, NRAI Mumbai Chapter Heads followed by an evening of networking and cocktails with guests indulging in insightful conversations. They both added, “With the paradigm shift in consumer ordering behaviour, cloud kitchens have emerged as a lucrative business model in the industry. The success of this first convention has reinforced our plans to curate conversations like these each year in order to cover all aspects of the F&B sector like the cloud kitchen segment.”
The National Restaurant Association of India is the voice of the Indian Restaurant Industry. Founded in 1982, it represents the interests of 500000+ restaurants, an industry valued at INR 4,23,865 crores.
“Building a strong brand with quality, consistency and differentiation is a must in order to reduce the dependence on platforms, to ensure repeat purchase leading to scalability. As a dark kitchen operator, you should either be niche and small or broad and very large,” highlighted Ajay Mariwala, Food Service India.
“Cloud kitchens have evolved as a viable business model with the advent of new habit formation and digital acceleration which has been further supported by the shift in consumer ordering behaviour. It was great to be a key partner in hosting one of the biggest Cloud Kitchen Conventions and discuss what will make them stand out in the crowd. We at PepsiCo India, remain committed to enabling such stature forums to support the exponential growth and learning of the foodservice industry and being a premier beverage partner with them, going forward,” said Shailee Chatrath, Director, Organised Trade Channel Sales and Marketing, PepsiCo India Beverages.
“With the proliferation of cloud kitchens all over the country, we at Petpooja believe that technology will play a key role in their growth and sustainability. We are really happy that NRAI has provided such an amazing stage for all stakeholders to come together and share their insights,” added Parthiv Patel, Co-founder and CEO of Petpooja.
“Considering the ongoing changes in the restaurant industry, online food delivery has become the new normal. With customers preferring doorstep food delivery over dine-in facilities, cloud kitchens. Many restaurateurs are now expressing interest in shifting from a traditional dine-in facility to setting up a delivery-only business. Detpak is proud to be associated with NRAI to fuel the growth of many fabulous cloud kitchen brands in India with eco-friendly and efficient food packaging products while raising the bar for consumer experience,” said Rushabh Oza, Country Sales Manager, Detpak India.
Dhruv Dewan, COO and Co-Founder of Thrive Now stressed, “It’s no secret that Cloud Kitchens are now the rising force in the F&B industry globally. However, there is a rising need for them to focus on profitability, and for them to have complete and transparent ownership of customer data. Having a platform like Thrive Now helps them do exactly that while setting up their online ordering solution, taking care of delivery fulfilment along with other major value additions. I’m excited to be a part of stimulating conversations with trailblazers in this space at the Cloud Kitchen Convention organised by the NRAI and hope to take back a lot of in-depth information and feedback about what the future prospects for Cloud Kitchens look like. Based on this, we’d like to tailor Thrive’s platform along with our restaurant partners, to reduce their dependence on aggregators.”