Earlier this morning, we wrote about food ordering service TinyOwl shuttering its food delivery operations in all cities except Mumbai. In a conversation with MediaNama, the company’s co-founder Harshvardhan Mandad told us that it plans to relaunch services, with Roadrunnr (a company it is expected to merge with). Currently, the company claims to have 1 million users (both Android and iOS combined) across all cities.
MediaNama: What was the rationale behind shutting down food delivery?
Mandad: We’re relaunching our services with full delivery, and we’re going with Roadrunnr for this. The deal is not yet closed but the intent is there from both the companies. We’ve started working on the integration, that is why this service update. We’re launching in some localities where we have the delivery fleet and others will get updated when we launch the new service. This will be sequentially and not parallely. We cannot launch in 6 cities in one go and this is a practical call to take, to improve the kind of service and delivery.
MediaNama: What exactly do you mean by full delivery?
Mandad: Right now, at TinyOwl, we’re not controlling the (food) deliveries, with Roadrunnr, we’ll have full delivery, like we’ll be controlling every delivery via our delivery boys, which will result in fast delivery. The delivery through Roadrunnr is crowdsourced, the delivery boys are not on the payroll of either company. It’s like Uber, you can login at any time and deliver for a cost per delivery. This model improves the service as well. These drivers will exactly be like Uber’s drivers, where you have an app and you login into it to make a delivery after getting an order and you can logout after you’ve been paid for every order. There’s no payroll because it’s (this model is) scalable. On payroll, building efficiency is difficult and it will power businesses.
MediaNama: Why did you decide to keep service operational in Mumbai?
Mandad: We decide on where to start deliveries based on multiple factors. We decided to keep Mumbai operational because restaurants were live with their own delivery and we didn’t want to trouble the users with waiting for a delivery etc. so we decided to stop in other cities. Also, TinyOwl was founded in Mumbai.
MediaNama: Do you have a timeframe for when you’ll launch in other cities?
Mandad: Within 2-4 months, we’ll relaunch the service in Mumbai, Bangalore and parts of other cities. We don’t think that launching in all localities at the same time is practical because you need to build a fleet. We decide on where to launch depending on where the market is high, where can we get the most orders from.. where delivery makes sense, and a couple of other things. We decided South Bombay, where people order for Rs 2,000, and if you’re taking 15%, you’re making enough money.
MediaNama: Is TinyOwl retaining its brand and name in the Roadrunnr deal? (Mandad did not disclose the terms of the deal.)
Mandad: We will retain the name and the brand but we’re also looking at launching a new brand, because we want to give the perception that we’re in the delivery business. So we’re in discussion with Roadrunnr about this.
MediaNama: What other services do you plan to launch with Roadrunnr?
Mandad: We’ll only be in the business of food delivery. Because we might launch the other brand with Runnr name, giving people the optical illusion that we’re into the delivery business. It’s not yet launched but it’s in the pipeline. We’re not planning for any other service at least for the next 6-9 months.
MediaNama: Any plans to raise funding and do you have money leftover from the previous funding?
Mandad: We’re looking to raise funds, yes. We have money, we have our runway till December 2016.
Roadrunnr also has money, which will last them 6-9 months. (Update: Mandad wrote to us stating that he is unaware of Roadrunnr’s finances and how long they will last.)
MediaNama: How are TinyOwl’s operations as of now?
Mandad: Overall, operations are good. In terms of integration (with Roadrunnr), things are ongoing, the legal documents are in the process. We’ll be able to announce officially only when the deal is signed. Both the organisations know about the intent, though.
MediaNama: Any plans to launch other features in TinyOwl?
Mandad: We’re launching other features, multiple workings and improvements… The biggest problem in this industry is how you can increase the frequency of the user to order from outside. How are you going to improve the market size?… Once you’re in Uber, you take Uber more and more often, that is how Uber is gaining users. The same problem exists here (in food delivery.) For that, what kind of product are you going to build and how are you going to improve from current standards? We’re working on those things.
MediaNama: Do you plan to continue TinyOwl Homemade (home cooked food delivery)?
Mandad: We’re not going to continue with Homemade as of now because it’s an on demand thing, with and chefs and logistics, you can’t make a lot of money there. So we’re thinking of making it into a subscription based service, but as of now, we’re focusing on the main TinyOwl app.
MediaNama: How many employees do you have currently and where all do you have offices?
Mandad: We have around 100 people in total, and all will continue to work with us post the deal with Roadrunnr. We only have an office in Mumbai.