With about Rs. 15 billion pooling into the home-delivery market, statistics say a lot of companies are coming out to get their hands dirty in this well. Khaopiyo, FoodPanda, and very recently, the organically-grown Pakistani food ordering/restaurant reservation chain, EatOye, also formerly known as Food Connection Pakistan, too, joins the table. The last three years has seen it amassing connections with 700 food retailers, the largest that any food portal has taken out thus far. Mentored by Arpatech, its CEO Jamal Khan – CEO and founder Nauman Sikandar Mirza and Rai Umair C.T.O of EatOye Pakistan and Founder sat down with IDG in Pakistan recently to talk about their venture and its future.
EatOye’s difference can be seen in the services it offers, which are: home delivery and reservation services. It operates in 8 different cities and its target audience includes young people between the ages 20 to 35 says Noman. A lot of these youngsters have access to the Internet, and are generally very good at availing these services on their smartphones it can be seen. Therefore, the market is more skewed towards the youth.
From Father, to a Son
Mentorship from Arpatech, both Noman and Umair, note have worked to their advantage. Finding financial and technical support from anywhere else, such as Germany, could have been sought as well, says CTO of EatOye’s operations, Umair. But that is what is amazing about our venture – it is totally Pakistani and a great one at that. Where many other companies would have gone and done what we are doing, they would’ve squandered more resources. EatOye’s success is in how it has kept the systems running, and that too, in much less.
Noman commented on the mentorship and guidance that always came their way from Arpatech. With emergent situations calling for sometimes 20 to 25 developers to work on EatOye’s operations, to manning the call centre and helping alleviate the burden of the costs, Arpatech’s role in our operations in Pakistan has been unparalleled – something that other big enterprises can learn from.
Unveiling the future plans of the EatOye operations, Umair discusses his plans for coming out with an app accessible both online and offline. This would be a ‘first-of-its-kind- service in Pakistan where the only assumption about the customer would be his access to a phone’s SMS service. This can be seen as a great idea as the bulk of the Pakistani population has a phone, of which 70% have smartphones, therefore very viable.
The reason why EatOye has managed to do so well in little time is the incredible research that went into its pre-launch. About 95% of hotels/restaurants do not have food reservation portals, and if they do, the staff is not very thorough in its understanding of customer-handling protocols. It is for this reason that many restaurants and hotels are keen on dispatching their orders/ services to us, says Umair.
“It’s challenging. You have to sell the concept of being online. That’s the challenge itself.” We might be living in the digital age, but not a lot of people or restaurants are digitized as yet. As compared to other economies we are not even eating out as much compared to them by any measure. However, we showcase all restaurants on our food portal. That way those restaurants lagging the digital imprint stand to benefit with greater digital visibility, at home and abroad, thus making for a ‘win-win’ situation for all.
EatOye, Khaopiyo and FoodPanda are on the brink of creating something new – that is for sure. There are new possibilities. As more and more women start working, food delivered home, and eating out could become the norm. As for now, Noman says that he wants to increase the number of restaurants the company is catering to, to 2000 restaurants. 45,000 customers is the mark we may have reached since July 2013, but the challenge is to keep the number rising; reward systems for customers and improving the functionality of the call centers is what future holds. The phrase ‘a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ may have altered today, in that it now reads: “a way to man’s heart is through his stomach – and the way to that is through the ‘online mart.’”