NEW DELHI: It was almost eight decades back that the phrase – buddy system – was first used. The idea being an arrangement for the mutual safety of two or more people, especially in a challenging situation.
So when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world and the restaurant sector faced a nightmarish situation, two friends from their college (Institute of Hotel Management, Ahmedabad) days, Loveneet Singh and Inderdeep Singh joined hands and launched Outlet Buddy, a cloud kitchen, albeit with a difference.
While Inderdeep, a post graduate in Food Technology from University of Guildford, UK, spent the last 18 years in the Food and Service Industry, Loveneet, who did MSIS in Information Systems from Virginia Common Wealth University, USA, is a technology enthusiast with a love for the food industry.
Excerpts from an interview with the founder buddies, roommates for two years at the IHM, Ahmedabad, who chose to stay in touch even after college and started working together in 2012.
How does Outlet Buddy work?
It is a regular kitchen that operates online, and offers restaurant owners a single point of interaction to order food. It saves them the bother of shopping for raw materials from multiple vendors and get into the nitty-gritty of preparing dishes. They can just order the dishes from Outlet Buddy and rest assured that their trademark dishes will be prepared. This means they can concentrate on expansion to other locations without worrying about setting up a full-fledged kitchen every time, which in turn helps them save on rental, HR, equipment, storage and capital cost.This platform enables coexisting and co-working of different brands under one roof, and is open to both, established restaurateurs and upcoming ones.
When did the idea of Outlet Buddy strike and how did you go about it?
As a concept, we began in 2018 – at this point we had already worked in the food business for a good six years, and had perfected the art of food production as a team. In 2018, we got an opportunity to work with food trucks, which prompted us to look deeper into this proposition.
We realised this concept offers better margins for us and our partners, and to prove it, we started working with some restaurants giving them 90 per cent done dishes as per their menu.
How challenging was it to convert this idea into use during the period of turmoil and negativity as also convincing people to be a part of Outlet Buddy?
Running a food business has never been this easy. Convincing restaurateurs or cloud kitchens in favour of Outlet Buddy wasn’t difficult since the profitability and scalability of the proposed solution is quite apparent.
Our proposition, in collaboration with other proposed solutions offered by various other cloud kitchen real estate companies, made this deal even sweeter for the people who want to run their brand online.
In many ways, the lockdown expedited the process since the entire focus was now on Outlet Buddy. We have been lucky enough to find early adopters for our idea and even though our growth has been slow it has certainly been steady.
Also, the fact is the general negativity towards starting something new is slowly diminishing now, and people are either trying to revamp their existing businesses or venturing into new ones.
Which areas do you cater to, and what are your future plans?
Our base kitchen is in Greater Noida. At present, we serve Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad. We aim for a linear expansion in different cities and then slowly introduce newer production technologies which would reduce our production cost and also introduce AI and IOT to smoothen operations and offer additional propositions to our clients.