Conversations Eating in Featured Food

This Unique Pune Start-Up Delivers Delicious Food Prepared by 5-Star Hotel Chefs

A unique start-up, Twisted Tiffin lets Punekars subscribe to single-serve Thalis prepared by 5-star hotel chefs across the city.

Miss eating food prepared by experienced chefs? How about some simple, delicious, hygienic and affordable food from a 5-star hotel in Pune?

A unique start-up, Twisted Tiffin lets Punekars subscribe to single-serve Thalis prepared by 5-star hotel chefs across the city. The main goal here is to supply hygienic food that doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket.

The food is only touched by the 5-star hotel staff, packed carefully in a COVID PROTECT tamper-proof cover, and delivered with utmost care. Don’t think rich gravies, biryanis and gourmet food; these are regular meals that we eat at home, only difference is that they are prepared at 5-Star hotel chains to maintain hygiene and sanitisation standards.

We interviewed founder Mittanshu Satla about this brilliant idea!

Could you tell us a bit about your new venture?

We started out in Goa in 2016 and commenced Pune operations two years back. The initial model was a flat-pricing model where a consumer could order any dishes out of a restaurant menu at a flat price of INR 120 for any meal (1 main dish + 1 side dish), just that the meals would be single-serve, wherein the quantity would be sufficient for just one individual. We identified under-utilised kitchens of restaurants and got them on board to produce food for us out of a standard menu. This model gave the restaurants a good chunk of incremental revenue in addition to their usual business with their fixed costs being constant.

Due to the pandemic, we have now pivoted to a subscription-based model where we deliver single-serve Thalis prepared by 5-Star hotel chains across the city and offer them on a subscription basis for 7 days /15 days /30 days. Our motto is to deliver standardised, affordable food just like a regular tiffin, but our tiffin is a slightly modernised, premium version of a tiffin. The food is cooked by a 5-star restaurant chef and doesn’t burn a hole in the recipient’s pockets. During the current situation, what we care for most is food that is hygienic and affordable. While many hotels and restaurants have been closed, delivering affordable food to people was a win-win situation for the start-up as well as hotels.   

How did this idea come about?

People are still skeptical about ordering food from outside and with financial difficulties mounting, ordering budgets have reduced and the inner chef in people is slowly phasing out. This gives rise to creating a reliable and trusted source for everyday meals delivered to individuals so they can leave their food needs to us and focus more on work, at least until the situation gets better. For now, the least a Punekar has to worry about is one meal which will come from a 100% trusted source.

Did you get references/ideas from a similar start-up?

The Mumbai Dabbawalas have been our inspiration forever as their model has stability and longevity, keeping basic unit economics in check. There is an interesting quote which we have been abiding by and I would like to share it: “Entrepreneurship in the toughest of times is the art of staying alive long enough till you get lucky”. As for the idea of delivering tiffins from 5-star hotel chains, we are the first ones to do it, especially at a price point of INR 109. 

How has Pune been as a recipient?

It has been less than a month since we pivoted to the subscription-based model post the lockdown. While our target audience was initially youngsters and bachelors, we were pleasantly surprised to get subscriptions from older couples, housewives, middle-age women, senior citizens, who took advantage of the food delivery services and we received excellent feedback. We also have a few corporates approaching us who are starting offices on a 10% occupancy. As operating a cafeteria is not yet feasible, we will be providing hygienic packaged meals for their employees during working hours.

What made Pune the right market for this?

After Goa, Pune was the best market for us to expand into as it is a Tier II city with consumer behaviour and acceptance resembling that of a Tier I city. A large number of IT employees, students and bachelors live here, who are receptive to new ideas. This gave our product the right market fit. 

How has the lockdown affected Twisted Tiffin? 

The nation has gone through a huge turmoil of events and the lockdown created a standstill. The situation gave birth to the subscription-based model and inspired us to start working according to the need of the hour. We hope maximum people benefit from our efforts. 

In terms of founding a start-up, what would you advise Punekars?

Dreams come true! Execute the idea, however big or small. Without execution, the idea is worthless. Quit soon, quit often. This basically helps you to eradicate what’s not working in the shortest time possible. That leaves you with something that’s proven to work. Lastly, asset-light is the way forward, especially for a start-up.