What inspired you to come up with the idea of ‘shore to the door’?
During 2000, I was in the US, where I was studying and working simultaneously. The ease of getting sea food was very much there, it was extremely simple. In US, if you want good sea food you can go to supermarket, hypermarket, and you can order online. The fresh fish is available everywhere there. But whenever I use to come to India for vacations I had to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning, go to fish market and haggle with the fish lady who did not have varieties, no quality assurance.
I found that there is a big vacuum in the market and that is what inspired me to start this home delivery business. About the end of 2004, we started the business.
How many households you deliver to in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad?
We do more than 2,000 transactions in a day, so we are catering to around one lakh houses presently in all these cities.
And what are the plans of tapping more consumers and more metros while increasing the presence in modern retail?
There are 185 Tier I, II and III towns which faces the same problem with fresh fish. So for the next five years, we are completely busy. We are going to increase our home delivery network while tying up with more retailers. We are also planning to tie-up with more retail partners to run their hyper markets and gourmet stores.
We have around 43 outlets in different formats and we will take the count to 200 outlets in two years and 300 outlets by 2018.
Who is your competitor? And what are your strategies to beat your competitor?
I don’t know of any competitor of our scale, but we consider the unorganised industry as our competitor. Many people have tried to venture into delivering sea food but they could not succeed. We have the early mover and this business is not just a fish business it has become the operation business. So people are not able to understand.
After returning from the US what was the major challenge you faced in retailing seafood in India?
There were three main challenges- consumer, infrastructure and shore side. Consumers initially use to not believe that a company can deliver fish. They used to believe in the fishing community which was supplying them for long. Initially, it was very tough to convince the consumers to try our product first. Then there was the challenge of lack of awareness of buying right product. Many consumers did not know the right variety of fish. Though we were supplying the right variety of fish, consumers used to not believe in us because they were buying the wrong ones for the last 30 years.
On the other side, infrastructure is a major challenge, as there is no cold chain and chilling mechanism to keep the fish fresh for delivery. The fish should be preserved in a temperature of minimum 00c and maximum 40c to stop all bacteriological activities. Then, we didn’t have the vans with refrigerators and chillers or public transport or people whom we could outsource the service. So, we created our own thermocol boxes to deliver fish on a bed of ice to ensure that the consumer staying 30 km away too can get fresh and cold fish.
And at the shore end, the fishermen didn’t know how to take care of fish. Always, India has been the traditional exporter of higher quality fish and the leftover is supplied to the domestic market so fishermen used to not bother of preserving fish properly. We convinced the fishermen to preserve the fish, to use ice, and to not save money on ice, and then we promised them that we sell those fish at good prices. So, it took us lot of education and hard work.
Why do you plan to go online? Also, are you planning to offer through online marketplaces or tying up with food portals?
We have our product line for e-tailers. We started with localbanya.com then we started with e-tailers. We are quite ready to deal with online marketplaces too.
While we work with brick-and-mortar companies, we will have presence at virtual platforms too. Our vision is to make fresh sea food available to every household in the country that’s why we take multi-distribution channel like we have home delivery, hypermarket, supermarket, gourmet stores and e-tailing. Soon, we are launching our mobile app too. Either we will come to your house or we will serve where you want to shop.
We are quite clear that we will be as a brand on another portals plus, we will have our own eCommerce and mCommerce ordering platform. To avoid heavy discounting online, we will reset the price with e-tailers to always have certain promotions but not flat discounts.
What’s the source of funding? Are you looking for any investment or fund raising any time soon?
For the current fiscal, we will be investing around Rs 25 crore which will be from internal sourcing, part will be financing, as working capital requirement comes to dead and we will be looking at equity infusion also from private equity investors. We are already in discussion with fund managers.
What’s the revenue target for the current fiscal?
In the next 18 months, we are trying to cross the figure of Rs 100 crore of revenue. And over the next five years, we are planning to become Rs 500 crore to Rs 1000 crore company.
According to you, how big the Indian sea food market is? And by what per cent it is growing?
The sea food industry in India is of Rs 80, 0000 crore, growing at 4-5 per cent CAGR. The industry is so big and we have not even scratched the surface. We have so much work to do for the next 10 years.
Do you also supply to restaurants and hotels. Please name some?
That is one vertical we are going to start now. In the last 10 years, the hotels and restaurants have changed a lot. They are opening up to quality and differential pricing. So now I think is the right time for us to approach them. May be in the next two quarters, we will be reaching to restaurants.