Licious founders on building a unicorn startup based on what the consumer wants

Online retailer of fresh meats and seafood Delicioushas always listened to his clients and helped the company create a unicorn startup. Founded in 2015 by Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta, Licious began his journey when direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands hardly existed in India.

In a candid conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of Your story, To TechSpark 2021, Abhay and Vivek explain how they want to create a brand similar to Amul.

For a category sold in black polythene bags, Licious introduced standardization and quality measures to an industry where none existed. The startup had to grapple with existing practices and industry biases, as well as venture capitalists who believed India was largely a vegetarian country.

“India is divided into many ethnicities and every 100 km the food choices change. How do you offer a Maggi-type solution to all categories? We call it mass personalization. If you build for the depth of the market, you will get to know the customer better and the cost will go down, ”said Vivek.

The founders saw this orientation validated by major investors including Temasek join their board of directors, encouraging them to think big. The journey was not easy, Vivek and Abhay acknowledged.

Changing consumption habits

In its first year of operation, Licious served only 40% of the city of Bengaluru, covering areas such as Indiranagar, Koramangala, Outer Ring Road and parts of Whitefield. The registered company Rs 1 crore monthly income within six months. Cut to the present, Bengaluru alone has become 150 percent of initial income.

Earlier this month, the fresh meat and seafood brand raised $ 52 million, entering the unicorn club to a post-currency valuation of $ 1.05 billion. The startup wants to expand its product to other geographies and claims to have a unique customer base of 2 million.

To better serve its customers, the founders of Licious wanted to create a end-to-end model where he has control from farm to processing until last mile delivery.

“There was no last mile cold chain delivery when we started, as it was primarily for hot food delivery. So we created an upstream logistics company, a downstream manufacturing company, and an internet company in between, ”said Abhay.

He added that this had met with skepticism from potential investors, but if the company had not built this consumer expectations could not have been met.

Keep the faith

Licious struggled to increase his B streak as the Indian ecosystem of “vegetarian” capital, as Abhay calls it, found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that chicken would be widely consumed by users and ordered so frequently.

“Indian consumers are very demanding, but we have always been told that global products can be replicated in India. There has been a change in customer behavior that demands Indian solutions to the problems, ”said Vivek.

He added that in 2016 D2C adoption was slower, transactions weren’t smooth, and phones had limited apps. These problems disappeared over time and consumers made a choice. While Licious claims to be channel independent, 95% of their orders go through their app or website, and 90% of customers are repeat buyers on the platform.

The founders focus on solving the supply chain and food technology, reducing waste in an industry where the product has a shelf life of 48 hours.

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Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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