#Asia Craving laksa or nasi goreng in Bangalore? This startup has 48 kinds of Asian dishes in its menu

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A food ordering platform founded by a veteran food entrepreneur, 48East already has the backing of a UAE-based investor

48East Founders Nabhojit Ghosh and Joseph Cherian (R)

48East Founders Nabhojit Ghosh (L) and Joseph Cherian (R)

His love for food could have made this veteran food entrepreneur a victim of ‘occupational hazard’. However, this forty-something gourmet managed to stay fit and keep chronic lifestyle diseases away, despite having to taste and eat a wide variety of Asian dishes prepared at his kitchen in Bangalore every day — thanks to regular work-outs and exercise.

Meet Joseph Cherian, Founder and CEO behind 48East, an on-demand food ordering platform that has in its menu all the popular dishes from the 48 Asian countries. A 20-year veteran entrepreneur with a track record of manning different key positions at food chains like McDonald’s and Pizza Corner, Cherian has already made a mark in the foodtech segment in India with 48East.

“Having worked in different parts of Asia, I have long been familiar with its various cuisines and culture. I was always fascinated by the plenty of cuisines, distinctive flavour and great variety,” Cherian shared with e27 over a cup of coffee at a Starbucks outlet in Sheshadripuram, north-west of Bangalore.

“I used to travel to India a lot as part of my profession. However, my favourite dishes were not available in any of the restaurants, other than some Chinese dishes. I sensed a yawning gap here. That’s when I thought of starting 48East,” added the Harvard Business School alumnus.

Also Read: This food-tech startup uses IoT to bring your InnerChef alive

Cherian started his career in 1988 as a management trainee at McDonald’s. From there, he moved to GFA (Global Franchise Architects), where he was responsible for the rapid expansion of the brand. At the young age of 30, he became the global CEO of GFA, where he established over 250 stores across nine countries.

He has also worked as CEO of Papa John’s, where he was instrumental in the first ever merger in the Indian QSR industry. He was responsible for the initiation and execution of the merger of Pizza Corner and Papa John’s, helping the latter scale to 70 stores within a short span. He spent most of his working years in Asia and the Middle East.

“Although Asia is home to 48 countries with multiple ethnic cuisines in each of these regions, there is limited awareness amongst people about this diversity. Majority of the boutique restaurants and five-star hotels that offer quality Asian food are limited to serving Indo-Chinese or East Asian cuisines. Gourmet Asian food that consists of delicacies from South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East is neither affordable nor readily available for the common masses,” Cherian said, narrating the story behind the 48East.

48East was launched in August last year, along with veteran chef Nabhojit Ghosh. It delivers fine Asian gourmet food on demand. With a weekly-changing menu, the platform offers handpicked dishes from Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Turkey, India, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and many other Asian countries. 

We take our customer through a journey of 48 cuisines over a period of one week. We have a mix of different menus every day. We list the day’s menu on our mobile and web platforms, and consumers can choose from this list. Once an order is placed, the item will be delivered at your doorsteps within 45 minutes,” he explained.

Currently, 48East operates two kitchens — one each in Indiranagar and Marathahalli, and it processes close to 150 orders a day. 

In addition to individual customers, the startup also sees orders come from corporate customers. The startup runs its own logistics unit, in addition to partnering with third-party logistics players for delivery.

UAE investor takes a bite

A few weeks ago, the venture raised US$500,000 in pre-Series A funding from UAE-based Al Dhaheri Family. This was preceded by a US$250,000 in a round of angel funding from Agra-based ACPL Exports.

Unlike other foodtech players in the market, 48East doesn’t believe in employing unworthy practices such as offering discounts to acquire customers, which it believes is unsustainable in the long-term. “Foodtech is a fancy word. In food, technology can be a great enabler. You can put tech and call it foodtech or restaurant tech. Ultimately you are a food business. People would come to you only if your food and services are great. Otherwise, you will fail despite the discounts and other offers,” he added.

For 48East, expansion is in the offing. However, the startup will choose the locations carefully and expand phase-wise, based on market opportunities. For the same the company is in talks with investor to raise Series A funding.

‘Indian market won’t mature in my lifetime’

Cherian added that India is a land of opportunities. Poor infrastructure, increasing female population, rise in double-income families, etc., make it a wonderful market. “If you look at countries like Thailand, people only eat out. They eat five times a day. Those markets are mature. If you take into account the kind of food options available at the food courts over there, it is a paradise. On the contrary, in India, that culture is yet to happen. However, there is definite opportunity as long as you build a good business. Consumers need variety.” 

Talking about the future of the food business in India, he said the country will see a great revolution in the coming years. “If you look at China, it is far ahead of India. However, the market is still growing. Likewise, India has a huge potential. The foodtech market has a huge room for growth. That said, I don’t think it will mature in my life time,” he laughed.

Also Read: Malaysia’s Dah Makan is a do-everything food tech startup and it just closed a US$1.3M seed round

For the food businesses, it is now easy to grow. “McDonald’s came to India in 1990. However, the work was started six to seven years prior to setting up the restaurant. We at McDonalds built the whole supply chain, procurement, etc. Today, it is easy for any player to start a food business. We have good quality suppliers and get high quality ingredients. So, the potential is huge,” he added.

So, next time when you come to Bangalore, don’t fret over spicy Indian food. You can just order your nasi goreng or laksa from 48East.

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Image Credit: 48East

The post Craving laksa or nasi goreng in Bangalore? This startup has 48 kinds of Asian dishes in its menu appeared first on e27.

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