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A food & beverage e-mandi for food service segment

Monday, January 22, 2018, 15:00 Hrs  [IST]

According to a report by Shameen Alauddin in Business Standard, if you run a hotel, restaurant or catering business, you would have faced the exhaustion in buying food items such as fruit, vegetables, pulses, meat and poultry from vendors spread across the city. Online platform WOTU (We Organise The Unorganised) provides a one-stop business-to-business (B2B) portal for delivering food commodities within 24 hours. Founded by Dhruv Sawhney in 2015, the Bengaluru-based firm has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-Series A funding from Claris Capital and Mumbai Angels Network. Traditionally, standalone restaurants and hotels depend on local vendors or go to the market themselves. The vendors would then have to cater to 30-50 buyers. This is where most middlemen come in and eat the profit margin on both sides. “This industry is mired with unethical practices in sourcing. We believe true value can be created by directly connecting farmers, processors and manufacturers with the end-buyer through our platform,” said Sawhney.

With WOTU, a wide range of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood and dairy, including Indian and imported groceries and beverages, is a few clicks away. Along with free delivery, the food trading firm assures quality based on the chef's specifications. Orders may be placed either online or via WOTU's Android and iOS applications. From buyers placing orders on the platform to complete warehouse, fulfilment and delivery operations, all the functions are run using the WOTU-built technology platform. 

It also uses data analytics to understand the consumption need of buyers. The start-up claims to be India's first B2B marketplace offering products under one roof in the food and beverage sector. Others in this segment follow a traditional brick-and mortar model. The e-commerce platform offers fully-secured credit and working capital solutions that are backed by insurance. 

The firm is yet to break-even but is close to it on the total cost of operation. “We make money on every transaction from day one. We maintain a healthy margin on every buyer and our margins are built into the selling price for every product,” said Sawhney. Pegging the market size at USD 6.8 billion (INR 434 billion) nationwide, set to grow to USD 20 billion (INR 1,277 billion) by 2020, the start-up aims to use the funds for foraying into other cities in India; it is currently operational only in Bengaluru. It has also invested in machine learning to manage the forecasting and maximum retail price in an automated manner. WOTU says its next growth milestone is to deliver four-fold growth by FY20. 

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