FreshtoHome is a meat and fish-lover’s best friend. When you are stuck with buying stale fish and meat from the market, FreshtoHome offers you an opportunity to buy certified free of chemicals produce off a user friendly mobile application. There are a variety of options on the app and it allows you to make your order according to your preference. The packaging done by FreshtoHome is also something that has garnered positive reviews from it’s customers. FreshtoHome is the hassle free and trouble free way of going about your cooking.
Give a brief info about FreshtoHome and how you came up with this business idea?
When I moved to Bengaluru (India) with my family, I went to some of the choicest Fish markets the city had to offer, to look for Mathi (Sardine), a favourite of mine. What I instead found was fish that was fresh on the outside and stale on the inside. I decided to look into the matter and discovered that much of the fish being sold in the local market was being laced with Ammonia and Formalin – two harmful chemicals that’s added to increase shelf life of Fish and Seafood. This makes it look ‘fresh’ to the untrained eye, while it continues to decompose on the inside. Even when consumed in small quantities, they have negative effects on your health and Formalin is carcinogenic when consumed over a period of time. That’s when I stumbled upon SeaToHome.com, India’s first online Fish and Seafood store, run by Mathew Joseph, FreshToHome’s current Chief Operating Officer. And together we started FreshToHome.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
FreshToHome is based out of Bangalore. The idea of starting FreshToHome was born after I moved here. Being a landlocked city it is hard to find fresh fish. The nearest coast is roughly around 350 kms from here. And with a tech based company like ours, it doesn’t really matter which city we are based out of.
Who are your biggest consumers? Why do you think people would buy fresh produce online rather at the marketplace?
Our biggest consumers would be Malayalees or any Fish eating community who’ve lived by the coast and crave for fish that tastes like it’s fresh off the boat. While there are people who would much rather touch and feel fish & meat before they buy it, there is no way to guarantee that the meat that they are getting is fresh or is free of added preservatives. At FreshToHome, we sell products that are certified free of added chemicals. For the longest time we have been under the impression that as long as the fish or meat is cut in front of us, it is fresh or you rely on the goodwill of those who run a meat stall to get fresh meat. Also, with bigger fish you can check the colour of the gills or the eyes and find out if the fish is stale. But that isn’t the case with smaller fish. Additionally, if you are unhappy with our products at any point, we have a – no questions asked, return policy. It’s also very convenient to have a product being dropped off at your doorstep than having to go looking for it from shop to shop.
How are you better than other startups delivering fresh meat & seafood? What makes FreshToHome different?
We developed the patent – pending Commodities Exchange Platform, which proved to be a game changer when it came to establishing our supply chain. The platform allows fishermen from various coasts to auction their daily catch to FreshToHome. This enables them to work directly with us, eliminate the middlemen out of the supply chain and source fresh produce for our customers, everyday. We now work with over 1500 fishermen using the app at a pan India scale, across 125 coasts. When it comes to Chicken, the usual practice is to inject the birds with antibiotics for them to grow faster and not contract diseases. What our vendors do is, wean the birds off the antibiotics a few days before they are slaughtered. This makes our products antibiotic-residue free. Hence our chicken is smaller in size, tender and juicy.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
That we are an expensive brand. Most often, customers think we are expensive because we are a branded meat store and the point of comparison in terms of price is the wet market. Another reason why this misconception would exist is because when you buy fish at a local market, you’re charged for the whole fish, in other words, for the gross weight. This includes the wastage and offals. In short, you pay for the Meat and also the waste. But at FreshToHome, we charge you only for the meat you eat. You pick a fish. We clean it, cut it, pack it neatly and deliver it to your home. The calculated weight or the net weight does not include the offals or wastage. So, when you buy 1kg Fish from FreshToHome, you get 1kg of Fish that you can eat.
Making sure that your produce remains fresh is crucial. What are the difficulties you face while transporting and delivering fresh produce?
There are challenges that you would ideally face while transporting fresh produce, like ensuring the temperature supports the produce to remain fresh. Or finding the right source and making sure they dont cheat us by slipping in rotten food among fresh ones. But we’ve created a sourcing & supply chain that is foolproof. Firstly, our sourcing and supply chain allows us to offer fresh products to our customers on a daily basis. Our predictive analysis technology determines our daily requirement of a product in different locations, depending on availability. So we avoid wastage. For instance, we have eliminated middle men out our supply chain and we deal directly with farmers. With the help of technology we’ve made sure that all our trucks are temperature regulated. All our products are maintained between 0 degrees – 4 degrees. We also have stringent hygiene checks in place where every product is checked by experts before it’s shipped to our customers.
How did your target consumer base respond when the app was first launched? Has it changed with time?
Anyone who is looking for fresh, preservative free food would appreciate the app. Since it’s an app, the convenience in today’s time makes it a very attractive. Additionally, we are making preservative free food accessible to masses at large at a nominal price. It’s value for money and health and that’s our primary offering. Of Course, there is an existing mindset that meat cut in front of you is fresh but those things change with awareness. More people are becoming open to buying meat online, it’s making that first purchase that takes time, but our quality of products is convincing enough for a customer to come back the second time. That’s how we are at 8 lakh customers today, just 4 years after starting the company.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
I met Mathew after I moved to Bangalore when I was looking for places that I could buy fresh fish from. At the time he was running the country’s first online fish and seafood marketplace – SeaToHome. Through email interaction I found out they were shutting shop so I wrote back expressing interest in the business and that’s how we started FreshToHome. We created an app that would fix the supply demand issue that SeaToHome was facing at the time. The core team behind FreshToHome is the same one that launched Zynga in India during my tenure as the India CEO. So after two exits, FreshToHome is much more than a company to us.
What are the future plans for this business?
Apart from expanding the range of the products that FreshToHome offers today, the company will continue to reinvent the supply chain process in other categories of food.
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