Food Marketing and Technology Magazine, India had interacted with Sumit Gupta, Co-Founder & CTO Kouzina Food Tech Pvt Ltd. He talks about the nuances of cloud kitchen and how technology can play a part in food and hospitality business.
1. Please tell us about Kouzina Food Tech Pvt Ltd and briefly about the concept of cloud kitchen
SG: Kouzina is a Cloud Kitchen company which has a vision to become the best food company nationally through a portfolio of “most loved” brands across categories which customers like to order online. Cloud Kitchen is a virtual restaurant which only specializes in food delivery without a storefront. The virtual restaurant doesn’t need to pay high rents for a storefront and can rather spend the rental money in optimising operations to deliver high quality, extremely safe and optimally priced food to the customers.
2. You have a rich experience in technology companies. What drove you to start a food business?
SG: Coming from a business family, I had always wanted to set up my own business. The technology companies taught me that in current times, every industry (like Food, Transportation, Hotel and others) need a technology backend to compete in the market. I wanted to utilise my learnings to create something which can reach the masses in India. As a first step, I took a franchise of a cake shop to understand the nuances of running an operations business. After running the cake shop franchise for a couple of years, I learnt that using technology, food business can also scale fast. This first step helped me co-found Kouzina (WarmOven being the first brand) as a technology driven cloud kitchen company which can reach every small town in the world.
3. What are your future plans? Do you plan to open physical stores?
SG: The plan is to reach out to multiple towns across India. Our current target is to reach 200 locations in 2022. We are primarily a cloud kitchen company but for branding, we do plan to open a few physical stores at the high footfall areas across the country.
4. What challenges in the initial stages did you face delivering delicate products like cakes, pastries, etc as their look is as important as their taste? What did you do to overcome them?
SG: Delivery as a segment has really evolved across various categories world over. People used to have inhibitions about buying books, clothes or food online but nowadays everyone is comfortable getting the same home delivered. The delivery staff, the delivery vehicles, the delivery process are all getting better every day.
When we started 8 years ago, we were among the very few who were delivering cakes in Bangalore. We used to train our staff to ensure that the cakes and pastries are delivered safely to our customers without damages. We also focused on jar cakes where delivery issues are less. We continue to improvise on the same to ensure our customers get fresh products without damages. In case we are not able to live up to our promise, we either provide a refund to the customer or ensure a replacement is done immediately.
5. How did acquiring KaatiZone help your company to increase sales and reach?
SG: KaatiZone has been a great acquisition for us. Kiran Nadkarni had built a fantastic QSR brand which we used to relish at the Bangalore or Hyderabad Airport. When we’d think of rolls, it would always be KaatiZone.
The enjoys a great fan base and has significant brand recall. Customers reach out to our stores across cities to taste our signature Chicken Tikka & Paneer Tikka rolls. If you have not tasted a roll from KaatiZone, go ahead and try one today!
6. How many customers do you cater to per month?
SG: It’s been a great journey and we continue to add customers every month. I cannot provide a definite number of customers per month but we continue to acquire new customers every month. We currently have 55 cloud kitchens and have been adding 3-4 kitchens month on month.
7. When you have kitchens in different locations how do you maintain quality?
SG: It is not tough when technology is enabled to help monitor day to day operations across all locations. We enable three As across all locations. The 3As mean – Analytics, Academy and Automation.
We provide a technology interface to every kitchen which enables the kitchen team to look at their previous day’s kitchen dashboard. This helps them to improve and fix any issues that would have cropped up. The kitchen dashboard provides details which include ratings, reviews, staff issues, wastage, order count, training schedule and others. The dashboard helps the kitchen to understand their quality score, trace root causes of issues and update the same on the platform. The quality score helps our central team to ensure that the quality issues are fixed immediately.
Regular virtual audits by the central audit team ensure that SOPs are followed at every kitchen across locations. We also have an online academy called Young Chef Academy which allows us to train and assess staff on a regular basis. We have built an app called ‘Kouzina Inbox Manager’ which helps us to improve the productivity of our staff.