Take a bite into the meat pie

Online meat and fish ordering platform Licious plans to diversify into dishing out meat spreads and cold cuts in scaling up their business, top company officials said.

The Bengaluru-based online platform is also testing offline retail with the launch of a few stores recently. The company that delivers fresh meat (chicken and mutton) and seafood touched the Rs 180 crore mark in revenue this fiscal.

When Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta, Co-founders, Licious began thinking about starting the firm four years ago, they wanted to fix the shopping experience in the meat products space. Their business plan was validated when Mohandas Pai, former Infosys board member and CFO extended funds to the company. Other investors in the company include Bertelsmann India Investments, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India, Mayfield India, 3one4 Capital, Sistema Asia Fund and InnoVen Capital among others. 

They soon realised that the meat industry in India had no proper quality checks, no certification body, no checks on processing and so on. Even though the meat industry pan-India was worth $30 billion, almost the entire industry was in the unorganised sector.

“There was no brand that one could trust in terms of quality and safety. We had friends who would turn vegetarian when they were in India since they were concerned about the quality of the meat. We decided to create a brand that would address these issues,” says Abhay.

Creating a brand that offers everything from farm to fork was not an easy task. The duo had to get farmers on board, ensure that the animals were given good food and ventilation and were slaughtered in certified places, sent for processing in hygienic centres and delivered to the customer in quick time.

“We set up all these processes from scratch. There was a lot of apprehensions initially. We were seen as folks who wanted to sell gold plated meat to consumers. Now, the customers are happy and want more of this gold plated meat.”

The company went on to tie up with farmers, offering them feed for the animals, set up warehouses, put systems in place to ensure that the meat was slaughtered safely and in a hygienic manner and the end consumer got a fresh and tasty product.

Over the past four years, the company has scaled up to cover more than 7 cities, over 10,000 orders a day and 2 lakh deliveries in a month.

In revenue terms, it has grown from a revenue of Rs 1.47 crore in the first year of operations to touch the Rs 180 crore mark in the last fiscal. In the next three years, the company plans to touch the Rs 1,000 crore revenue mark. 

The company has raised more than $65 million in four funding rounds and has an automated factory in Hoskote. However, getting funds was not an easy task initially. Abhay explains, “We wanted to set up an entire supply chain from scratch, build an app that would sell these products, so investors felt that we were focussing on too many things. They were initially apprehensive.”

Offering minimum wastage

For a company that specialises in providing fresh meat and seafood, it was very important to ensure that wastage was kept at the minimum. This was enabled with the aid of technology, with algorithms in the app, backed by a tech team.

They explain that the engine works based on past sales, the traffic on the app, the meat products that are popular among particular groups and ethnicities and so on.

“Once the demand is processed, we can learn more about the supply that needs to reach the warehouses. We need the system to ensure that wastage is kept to the minimum and we do not run out of stock as well, considering that we are witnessing a fast pace of growth.”

E-commerce conundrum

Liscious that competes with players such as Freshtohome, Easymeat, BigBasket’s meats  division in the online meat space states that it is a meat products company and has no plans to retail products such as milk and vegetables on its platform, “Most of the other players are platforms that retail a wide range of products. They are more focussed on sales. “We are a product company and our speciality lies in creating products, not just selling them,” states Vivek.

More than chicken

Often, one assumes that in India, chicken would be the fastest-selling meat product. “Chicken makes up about 40% of the sales. There is a lot of demand for fresh seafood and mutton as well,” the founders say.

Expansion plans

With the nuts and bolts of the business in place, the company plans to expand to more geographies, work on launching more offline stores, in addition to the existing stores in Bengaluru and Delhi. They also plan to be out with a range of cold cut meats, alongside spreads.

Did they ever think of going into the B2B market place? “Not really. That requires a different scale of operations. We have always been focussed on giving our customers a quality product. We did not want to confuse ourselves.”

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