Home cooking now a biz

Many deliver food to neighbours using WhatsApp

Homemakers living in apartment complexes are starting small businesses, delivering home-cooked food through WhatsApp.

The trend is spreading across Bengaluru.

It has been three months since Dhara Tejas Shah started delivering Gujarati food to people in her apartment.

“There are about 130 people on a WhatsApp group and they regularly order my food. Twice a week, I put out a message announcing the menu and within 10 minutes, I get orders,” she says.

Dhara does not go out of her way to cook for her customers. “It’s usually whatever I am preparing at home. I just make a little extra and send it to those who order,” she says. 

She doesn’t take more than 20 to 25 orders at a time as she cooks alone. She has hired two people to deliver, and they are paid by the hour. 

“I usually deliver by 2.30 pm so that the kids can have it when they come back from school. I spend two to three hours making these items and send them out in steel or paper boxes, depending on how customers want it delivered,” she says.

Dhoklas and handva are some items she regularly makes. 

Personal connect

Homemakers use WhatsApp groups already created by others to sell their products too.

M V Pawani Kiran was already part of a couple of WhatsApp groups selling handicrafts, clothes, furniture and food. She was always a customer. But when she quit her IT job and started to make homemade pickles and curry powders, she started advertising on the groups. 

“There are about 200 to 250 people in the group; it grows with mutual friends adding more mutual friends. So in some way, everyone is added to the group because someone else you know is already a part of it,” she says.

A group can have three or four admins, but they are not responsible for the service. Groups allow advertising only on certain days. “I post on alternate days so that people remember me,” she says.

Pawani has been delivering Andhra-style pickles and powders to people on the WhatsApp group. “If it’s within a couple of kilometres, I use Dunzo to deliver. If further, I use a courier or postal service. It’s cheaper that way,” she explains.

She feels WhatsApp is better than Facebook and Instagram as she is able to connect with her customers directly.

Privacy and more

Customers don’t feel their privacy is compromised as they can choose to privately message the home cooks. 

Athula Gutta, who makes sweets and savouries, sets store by WhatsApp private conversations.

“On Facebook and Instagram, even if you post your item, it gets lost as there are so many others using it. There might be chances the customers accidentally close the page and lose the link. You don’t have that problem with WhatsApp,” she says. 

Athula gets her orders when she posts the menu on her WhatsApp status. “If I forget to post a status one day, people on my list message and ask why I haven’t made anything today,” she says, laughing. 

Athula is known for ‘healthy, vegan baked items’.

She says, “People usually spend about Rs 2,000 on a customised cake that is unhealthy. I offer customised goodies using gluten-free and natural sugars.” 

Homemaker Meena Kolla has been making different varieties of South Indian pickles and delivering them throughout the country.

“WhatsApp has been one of the best methods of reaching out to people as there are people genuinely interested in the product. They like knowing that I use ingredients that every household will use and nothing extra. It’s healthy and doesn’t take too much of my time either,” she explains. 

She also makes rasam, sambar and puliyogare powder on order. She adds, “There have been times when people have asked for something and then cancelled their order. I don’t feel bad about it, instead, I just use it at home. I don’t think of it as a loss at all. And whenever I do make something on order, I make a few extra for my family too.” 

Profitable model

Using WhatsApp doesn’t call for any capital investment. Cooks make only what their home kitchens can handle, and there is no burden on meeting targets.

As most cooks are mothers with young children, they have only a couple of hours in a day to spare. They use that free time to build their home businesses.

Homemakers also feel people don’t mind paying a bit extra for food prepared at home.

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