Hungry? Grab a bite online

Hungry? Grab a bite online

LIVING IN THE KITCHEN

 Log on for a lowdown on restaurants and place the order.

A modern-day saying goes like this — When hunger strikes, the web is the quickest way to grab a bite!

Bangalore has always been the IT hub (tired of hearing that?), apart from being home to a variety of other professions and people from other states (and countries), who are not familiar with the city’s geography as well as language. When Priyanka and Ritesh completed their engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 2003 and joined the software industry “like everyone else”, they came across one frustrating problem.

They did not have access to information about good eating joints in Bangalore, be it location, kind of food, or availability. “Usually when you are new in a job, you work late hours and obviously have to order food from outside,” says Priyanka, who hails from Bokaro, Jharkhand. Despite intensive internet searches, Priyanka and her colleagues could not find any information or references about restaurants in Bangalore.

That is when they realised that there was a genuine need for such information to be made available. And hence, in July 2006, Priyanka and Ritesh launched Hungry Zone — a website that caters exclusively to offering information about restaurants (ten at the time) in Bangalore.

“We were not sure about how the restaurants and customers would respond,” says Priyanka, a young first-time entrepreneur. Thereafter, after a lot of feedback and suggestions, the two partners relaunched the website in May 2007 with an astounding 150 restaurants. The relaunch saw a marked increase in the number of orders. Today, it lists around 500 restaurants in Bangalore, offering a variety of services, as in home delivery, takeaways, table reservations, party bookings, etc — “anything to do with restaurants” — as Priyanka puts it. What’s more, restaurants are charged only for the orders placed by Hungry Zone.

Reviews

An add-on of the site is the provision to put up your review of any of the restaurants as well as to read those given by others. “Once a person places an order through Hungry Zone, we request him/her to write a review,” says Priyanka. Its advantage — anybody who visits the website makes a very informed decision regarding the standard of the restaurants. It works well for the restaurant involved as well. “If you are the owner of the restaurant, especially if you are running a chain of restaurants, in case of any goof-up, the manager will most likely not inform the owner,” explains Priyanka. “Which is why if there is a single negative feedback, we let the management know about it. They may not know when exactly it happened or who was responsible, but they will surely try to improve it.”

The website lists contact details of eating joints as well entire menus and price lists with updated prices on the website for home delivery.

Human touch

The founders set up a call centre at HSR Layout in 2007 at the time of the relaunch after they realised that orders being placed were very few, despite a lot of people checking out the site. “There was no human intervention,” realised Priyanka, after speaking to customers who felt the need to talk to someone and find out the status of the order placed. There is also a WAP website. So if one has GPRS, the order can be placed directly.

Initially both the founders were managing Hungry Zone while still into their regular jobs in IT. Then, as the orders kept growing along with the potential of the business, Priyanka quit her job in July 2007 to work full time at Hungry Zone, and Ritesh, in August 2008.
Realising the need for faster growth in the wake of growing competition, both of them raised investment from Indian Angel Network, a finance company based out of Delhi with branches all over India.

Today, Hungry Zone has come a long way with a presence in 10 cities with listings, ratings, see/write reviews, etc.

The site also offers gift coupons for 10 restaurants in Bangalore at the moment. The coupons can be bought online, by anyone abroad or here, that are sent by courier to friends and family, who can then enjoy a hearty meal gifted by someone far away.

Value-add dabba

There is a ‘tiffin subscription’ for regular orders. Priyanka explains why. “You cannot have restaurant food everyday. So we have tied up with dabbawallas in local areas who operate in small pockets.” Hungry Zone does not charge the dabbawallas “because their margins are very low, around Rs 30-35 per dabba.” The enterprising engineer calls it “a value additional service for our customers, since, if you are ordering dabba for a month, one day you would go out for dinner after booking a table at a restaurant through Hungry Bangalore.”

It’s not an easy decision to quit a comfortable job and begin an untapped business. Yet for Priyanka and Ritesh, “It’s tough but much more fun. In a job you cannot decide what you do. Here you decide what you do.”

For details, log on to, www.hungryzone.com or www.hungrybangalore.com

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