All about BroEat’s community-minded mission to save restaurants in India, post-lockdown

Last-mile food delivery will not be the same, even after lockdowns lift — largely because of the startups which have innovated to adapt to physical distancing and hygiene upgrades. One of the startups frontlining this change is BroEat, which is set to launch on June 15 in key areas of Mumbai, then across Bengaluru and Delhi. BroEat is the brainchild of two formidable names — Karan Tanna and Pawan Shahri. Karan founded the nationwide Ghost Kitchens chain, a frontrunner in the dark kitchens segment, and his Yellow Tie Hospitality manages a host of F&B franchises, working with over 200 restaurants; Pawan’s portfolio includes some of Mumbai’s more intimate, popular casual dining restaurants like Butterfly High, The Bigg Small Cafe + Bar, Oi Lat-Am Kitchen & Bar and LILT. But BroEats is something else entirely: a one-stop destination for customers to reach their favourite restaurants — through WhatsApp.How it works

Wait, why WhatsApp? Pawan explains that people, though quite tech-literate, are more comfortable with the Facebook-owned messaging platform for its accessible nature, much wider reach because almost everyone already has it on their phones, and ease of use; plus, one does not need to use up more space with yet another app. And most important, WhatsApp is already equipped with End-to-End Encryption, for those worrying about security. The process is simple. Once you have the verified BroEat business account number as a contact, you reach out with a simple ‘hello’ via WhatsApp and you are sent a link to their platform. You can then proceed as with a normal food order and make your payment. Then you are redirected to WhatsApp where you receive confirmation messages, receipt, and delivery updates.The genesis of BroEat comes from an economic standpoint too, admits Pawan, who is also the founder of One Hospitality Solutions. “Except for all the fixed costs and variable costs that we have otherwise, the massive commission that we all pay to delivery platforms towards each order becomes a big dent in businesses.” BroEat is essentially crafting business for a new type of supply chain, he agrees, adding, “We need to make sure that consumers get the experience and service they need and, simultaneously, it does not hit the pockets of our merchant partners and restaurants — so they can sustain themselves.” Karan tacks on proudly, “From inception to final stages, it has taken just two months to bring together!” Throw it back to the decision to bring BroEat to life. Karan’s Ghost Kitchens lies in dark kitchens, the delivery-only brands. He had always had this idea for his 200-plus internal restaurants, getting them all under one delivery platform umbrella, to sustain them better. Pawan’s businesses — like London Taxi — are more consumer- and experience-based. After seeing the effect on restaurants after the pandemic, the two friends decided to encapsulate other restaurants within that platform, that customers can access easily, while keeping in mind that nobody has marketing budgets to keep promoting their individual platforms.

BroEat is looking at discounting in a new way too. Currently, restaurant owners end up giving a discount on top of the commission they are already giving, so it takes the overall margin they shell out to almost 40%. Pawan points out, “The commission rate is inverting at 25% to 30%, we will try to bring that down to 5%, which includes the delivery fee. This will give restaurants more leeway to put a discount where they wish.” Karan adds the former discounting model, which is widely used for visibility, puts restaurants at the mercy of aggregators. BroEat also allows restaurants to choose which delivery vendor, integrated with the BroEat tech, handles customer orders, and, of course, these vendors still have to follow strict hygiene protocols. The biggest perk for restaurants? Untill August 2020, BroEat is not taking order processing fee, ultimately financially taking care of the back-end expenses so restaurants may recover and turn a profit first.Business, meet communityDiversity of restaurants is priority. “This is a community platform,” insists Pawan, “and a community decision is being made on every aspect. Though we are in initial stages, we are making a board of mentors for different categories: bars and pubs, ghost kitchens, pop-ups. We are giving equal representation across the industry. We have home chefs in BroEat’s roadmap, too.”Currently, the head team comprises eight people, including Karan and Pawan, but BroEat plans to generate jobs for those in the industry laid off during the lockdown. With the platform launching in less than a week, the team wants to onboard 10,000 restaurants within the first three months.While customer feedback can be conveyed through WhatsApp, BroEat has refrained from adding a review mix to their platform. This would have enbled will given access to bloggers, who may want to make it BroEat a content platform, which is not the point of it BroEat, says Pawan. Ask Pawan what the first thing he is going to order via BroEat is, and he chuckles, “I’m a huge street food lover. So I’m looking forward to chaat!” Karan, though, is, “definitely ordering a wood-fired pizza!”

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