Shabbir Mookhtiar and Dinesh Patil, Founders of Cook My Grub – the UK’s leading marketplace for home-cooked food that cannot be found on the high street, share their expertise on launching a start-up business in the midst of a pandemic.
Launching a business is never straight-forward – it can be tricky, time consuming and is always a unique experience. But with a pandemic to contend with, only those start-ups that managed to spot a gap in the market had a chance to succeed.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected all industries across the country and the food sector was no exception. Thousands of chefs were made redundant nationwide overnight as all restaurants and pubs were forced to close.
During the pandemic, it was crucially important to identify what consumers were looking for. Here at Cook My Grub, we were very aware of the takeaway boom that restaurant closures had caused, and we made it our mission to create healthier, happier and wealthier communities across the UK – we wanted to help as best we could.
Whilst some founders may have delayed their start-up plans until 2021 / 2022, we decided to launch mid-pandemic – just seven months after coming up with our concept. We spotted that the sector was missing a platform for deliverable home-cooked food, rather than the usual takeaway services. With the hospitality industry in disarray during 2020, we realised how we could help chefs to get back into the world of work and encourage aspiring chefs and foodies to try something new.
Back in March, we exceeded our initial fundraising target by 150%, raising over £750,000 in just four weeks after receiving major investor interest. A huge achievement that gave us confidence in our model. In the last quarter alone, Cook My Grub has seen a 110% growth in customers, increased repeat order rate, several outdoor/indoor events and had a 5x growth in party orders.
A huge challenge we faced was the inability to host promotional events outdoors during the key initial 10 months of our operations. Our plan was to take our home chefs on a high-street tour across the areas we operate in. Due to the ongoing social distancing and lack of footfall on the high streets, this was not feasible. However, once the restrictions were relaxed over the summer, we doubled up on the number of events we’d normally do and were pretty much on the road every weekend. This helped us create awareness about the apps and our brand unlike any of the advertising we’d done up to that point.
Looking back, it’s clear that a large part of our success was due to our commitment to technology. Throughout the pandemic we have seen unprecedented technology adoption. Video conference is nothing new – businesses have been using it for years – but within just a few months back in early 2020, every business around the world was using it day-in-day out, as an essential tool. This is one example of how quickly society’s views on technology have changed in the last 18 months, but it showed us that to succeed, we needed to utilise industry leading industry leading cloud, AI and Machine Learning solutions to connect qualified, aspiring home chefs seeking to build their profile with nearby customers looking for authentic, home-cooked food.
As we move forward, our focus firmly remains on delivering the best homecooked food experience to customers through various technology, operational and customer-service related improvements. We’re continuing to launch our service across the U.K with our most recent area being West London. We have an exciting end to the year planned with multiple campaigns planned across Christmas, New Year and Veganuary.
For more information on the home cooked delivery service, visit: www.cookmygrub.com