At $3.7 billion, Indonesia’s food delivery market, which DishServe calls home, is the largest in Southeast Asia. However, in 2020, everything began to change. Seemingly overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic killed indoor dining and forced restaurants to embrace delivery. Across the region, demand for food delivery grew by 183% in South East Asia.
Even before the pandemic, several restaurants were looking at delivery-only models to cut costs and increase profits. To help restaurants capitalise on this opportunity is the mission of DishServe with its network of cloud kitchens. It allows restaurants to easily offer delivery, expand their footprint, and generate more revenue.
How DishServe is redefining cloud kitchens
In simple terms, DishServe is a three-sided marketplace. It consists of the DishServe platform, restaurant brands, and a network of cloud kitchens.
These cloud kitchens are at the heart of DishServe, which are operated by home cooks. The startup offers them training, equipment, and technical support. Meanwhile, the home cooks follow a strict process to meet all professional standards and prepare meals using ingredients provided by the restaurant brands. Afterwards, the meals are dispatched to customers using existing delivery infrastructures like those built by Grab, Gojek, and Shopee Food.
The DishServe approach is a unique one. Typically, cloud kitchens are large spaces that take up an entire building. Such locations serve as a singular hub where businesses handle both mid-mile (cooking, food processing, production) and last-mile (heating, packaging, delivery) operations. While it can be cheaper compared to a dine-in restaurant, the rents associated with these large spaces make them costly to operate.
In contrast, DishServe’s approach decouples these operations from the equation. In doing so, the startup not only empowers home cooks but also offers great cost savings for restaurant brands.
Co-Founder and CEO of DishServe, Rishabh Singhi explains, “When restaurant brands expand they typically incur fixed costs like rent, manpower, electricity, renovation, etc. By working with Dishserve, they don’t have to pay a single dime for all this. Primarily because they are working with our home kitchen network.”
He continues, “By decoupling the mid-mile operations and last-mile distribution, letting the brands take care of the mid-mile objectives, while the home cooks and platforms like Grab, GoJek take care of the last-mile distribution, we act as a network for F&B brands to expand their customer base without interfering with or potentially compromising their food quality and consistency.”
The people behind DishServe
For the founders of DishServe, the big question that united them in pursuing this venture was, “What’s the next big opportunity?” It all began in October 2020, amidst the COIVD-19 pandemic, when former COO of Reddoorz, Rishabh Singhi and former Country Head in the Philippines of Redoorz, Stefanie Irma, like many others, began selling chocolate biscuit pudding on social media.
But the duo soon realised that it could only go so far. While some home cooks are thriving on social media, most cannot increase their sales beyond friends and family. To overcome this hurdle, Rishabh reached out to two old friends and serial enterpreneurs – Fathhi Mohammed from Sri Lanka who Co-Founded PickMe and Vinav Bhanawat from India who founded MagicSpace. Between the 4 of them, they had the expertise of serving as COOs previously.
So the team decided to take it upon themselves to solve the challenge nobody else had. They made it their mission to help home cooks obtain a stable source of income. And thus, DishServe was born. With Rishabh offering the strategic vision. Stefanie looked into operations, Fathhi managed the tech behind the app, and Vinav handled acquisitions and marketing.
Right from the beginning, the team was clear on their focus. DishServe would help home cooks come online and sell. It wouldn’t be jumping into delivery because, as Fathhi put it, “Many apps already solved the problem of deliveries in Indonesia. From my experience with PickMe, we already knew the complexities of tackling food delivery. So we opted to leverage the existing infrastructure in place to tackle the problems left unsolved.”
The challenges DishServe has conquered and its road ahead
Speaking to Arteculate, Fathhi shared, “Since Day 01, there were many challenges we had to overcome.” For starters, he’s in Sri Lanka, Rishabh in New York, Stefanie in Jakarta, and Vinav in Mumbai. All of DishServe’s co-founders are in different corners of the world. In the early days of the startup, this presented several challenges.
For each of DishServe’s founders, it was a significant departure from how they used to run things. What helped them quickly adapt was a strong sense of trust with each other. “We trust each other knowing we have the skills and experience required to complement each other. We have the expertise required to get the processes right for DishServe to succeed,” shared Fathhi.
With the strong teamwork between themselves, DishServe has enjoyed strong traction since its inception. Today, the startup works with several Indonesian restaurant brands. Some notable examples include Daipan by Chef Baba, Beefu, The Good habit Express, Horizon Dotter, Endog, and many more.
With DishServe’s network of cloud kitchens, these brands have been able to expand their footprint. It has also allowed them to go beyond simply adapting to the pandemic. By helping restaurants embrace a delivery-driven model, Fathhi proudly states, “Through the DishServe platform, many of the restaurant brands we work with are now seeing increased revenues that have surpassed their pre-COVID numbers.”
Through these efforts, Fathhi believes that DishServe has made great strides towards its initial goals by establishing a solid foundation to help Indonesian home cooks. The startup is now planning to build upon this foundation by assisting restaurant brands with their expansion plans.
Sharing their next steps ahead with Arteculate, Fathhi said, “We’re collecting vast amounts of data right now. Already, our network of cloud kitchens is helping restaurants expand into new locations affordably. With the data we’re collecting, we’ll soon be able to better assist them in identifying the ideal locations. In turn, helping our home cooks to secure a sustainable source of additional income.