The Silicon Review
The food service distribution industry is a highly challenging and competitive business. Companies have to be capable of managing their stock to meet customer demands, deliver accurate and complete orders as well as deliver food safely on time and at the peak of freshness. They also need to focus on developing a well managed and integrated supply chain that encompasses all stages of the process from production right through to the end consumer in order to sustain a competitive business advantage.
In the light of the above mentioned, it is indeed a pleasure to introduce WayCool Foods and Products Pvt Ltd, a company that is aggressive and creative in organizing India’s farm to fork supply chain to deliver cleaner and better produce to customers and improved returns to farmers.
WayCool Foods and Products was started by Sanjay Dasari and Karthik Jayaraman in July 2015. There was an element of luck in launching the company, as Sanjay was just completing his college education at Babson College in Boston, and was exploring food-related startups in India. He wanted to do something in the food truck or restaurant space. During his time researching the industry, he met with many Koyumbedu vegetable market vendors in Chennai and realized there was great headroom for improving the efficiency of the supply chain. Around the same time, his Co-Founder, Karthik, was considering leaving his corporate job to try a supply chain startup. They met and decided to work together to get this project off the ground, handling fruits and vegetables procured directly from farms across the country, and delivered to customers hygienically and efficiently.
In conversation with Sanjay Dasari, Co-Founder, WayCool Foods and Products Pvt Ltd
Can you brief us about how you have expanded your company over the years?
Today, we operate as an omni channel food services distribution company operating with a focus on working directly with our country’s farmers to increase their net income. We started with a focus on retail through our wholly owned subsidiary brand, SunnyBee, but pivoted multiple times to arrive at a model that blends B2B and B2C services to maximize efficiency. This is the structure that we follow today. Since different customers require a different specification of product (size, color, etc), this model allows us to purchase the entire yield from a single farmer’s farm instead of only selecting small quantities that they grow. Today, we work with around 26,000 farmers from nearly 51 different regions across our country, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. We’ve also rapidly expanded our client base across multiple cities, and supply nearly 100 tonnes of products to customers on a daily basis.
We source from across India and have active sales offices in Chennai, Bangalore, and Coimbatore. We are aggressively looking to expand across India to work closely with existing partners that are looking for our support in other cities. In addition, we are currently in the process of raising our Series B round of funds.
What are your service offerings and how does it benefit your clients?
WayCool aims to offer a one-stop shop procurement solution for our customer’s requirements whether they run a hotel, restaurant, or a catering company. The same will be extended to B2C customers through the SunnyBee Retail Chain. Operating off the back of an extensive network of farmers, WayCool provides extremely fresh, hygienic, and ethically sourced produce to customers across the country. In our line of business, there is daily interaction and daily deliveries with every single customer. This is why we have had to scale so rapidly to nearly 100 tonnes per day.
We focus on ensuring customer satisfaction through removing unnecessary and tedious jobs from their organizations. For example, we offer a range of value-added services to allow chefs and their kitchens to focus on cooking rather than menial activities like cutting, peeling, mashing, washing, etc. In addition, we have up to 9 different business lines operating within our company. This complexity, with strong senior leadership, allows us the flexibility to custom build solutions as per each and every customer’s needs. We are not simply a food services vendor. We aim to be a food services partner, going the extra mile to solve problems most customers were not even aware that they had.
What is it in you that differentiates you from others in the domain?
We have a very different approach from our competitors. We are trying to address the complete supply chain from farm to fork for the full range of products. We observed that many startups in this space choose a section of the value chain, e.g. last mile delivery, and strive for rapid scale in the same. Alternately, some others try to focus on a limited set of SKUs. In our view, these approaches are hard to sustain in the fresh produce business – it may perhaps work in packaged foods and FMCG where consistency is higher. The supply chain issues have to be solved in their entirety, commodity by commodity, and at least eventually, for the full range of commodities as the customer expects a one-stop shop. Further, the supply chain within and into each geography is very different, as are customer expectations. The challenge, therefore, lies in building a solution that is scalable, and yet, flexible enough to be adapted to each commodity and geography. This is what we are building.
Evidently, it is very hard to build excellence on all elements of the supply chain, and all commodities. Hence, we work with a very wide network of partners, who have built strong capabilities on individual commodities and individual elements of the supply chain - our role is both that of an orchestrator of the supply chain and a player in the same. We believe that this approach of alliances is critical to resolving the scalability versus sustainability “tradeoff” and also helps us avoid reinventing the wheel.
What are your present and future focus areas?
Currently, we are focusing on food products distribution through various different channels on the front end. In the near future, we hope to expand our product offerings into new categories, as well as value added options to work even closer with customers.We’ll also be exploring geographical synergies between source and demand regions and leveraging our pan India supply chain network to see where we can connect things.
Knowing the visionaries
Karthik Jayaraman, Co-Founder
Karthik has an experience of two decades across engineering, automatic, and management consulting. Being an alumnus of IIT Madras, Purdue University, and the Indian School of Business, he has great leadership capabilities and operational excellence. He majorly focuses on sourcing, processing, and enhancing the supply chain that has paved a way for the company to achieve milestones.
Sanjay Dasari, Co-Founder
Sanjay is a graduate in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management from Babson College, Boston, with some experience in consulting with the Boston Consulting Group. Sanjay handles strategic partnerships, marketing, digital innovations, distribution channels, and brand building for the company.
"WayCool believes that wastage and inefficiency can be slashed, food hygiene transformed and returns to farmers multiplied through the use of a carefully curated technology toolkit, backed by disciplined operations. And we have set about to do exactly that."