Needless to say, but waiting for food is something which every foodie hates. When they are hungry, they need it RIGHT AWAY or they turn into nothing but ‘hangry’. While some get frustrated waiting in queue to order food, others just can’t help but keep calm till their turn comes. However, there are others who will find a solution to this eternal crisis and create a platform to do away with hurdles to a happy meal.
Niket Agrawal is one of them and has been successful in doing just that, and at the same time helping food lovers around town to reach out to their one and only solace — food! If you have not guessed by now, then let’s unfold the mystery. We are talking about the food search engine ‘BHOJ’, one stop mobile app for all the foodies in Nepal, where they can search for their favorite restaurants, get food delivered to their home or office, get awesome deals when they dine-in at the restaurants, read and post restaurant reviews, explore restaurant menus, earn credits to their BhojWallet and much more.
Niket Agrawal, serving as the Co-founder at BHOJ (www.bhojdeals.com) for the past five years, has been relentlessly working, from wanting to "change the way Nepal eats" to "elevating the quality of life of urban consumers". Born and brought up in Kathmandu, Agrawal went to school in Mussoorie. After school, he completed his +2 in Kathmandu and later moved to Delhi for his undergrad where he started pursuing CA. After completing his college, he moved to Mumbai for his articleship at Deloitte. Later in 2008 after completing CA, he moved back to Kathmandu and started his own practice.
Bhojdeals was founded by Rahul Bajaj, Agrawal’s friend from school and college back in September 2015. They had started providing attractive dine in deals through the Bhoj platform for foodies. It was in 2017, Niket joined his friend Rahul to launch delivery services in Kathmandu and today BHOJ has come a long way and has managed to occupy a huge mindshare amongst Nepalis online.
Coming from a hard core finance background, how did you align your role in Bhoj?
Coming from a hard core finance background has actually helped me run BHOJ in a more effective manner. Finance is all about data and facts and so is BHOJ. Everything we do at BHOJ, all strategies we make, all key decisions we take are based on data and facts which helps us in making informed decisions. Other than this, finance background helps us in maintaining the financial discipline which is often lacking in rapidly growing organizations like ours. On a lighter note, you can’t take a finance person for a ride as we know our numbers very well.
What was the first business idea you had?
Besides being into auditing and tax consultancy, I had always been involved in family businesses trying to expand and grow as much as I could using my skills, knowledge and experience. When Rahul and I discussed how to expand Bhoj from dine-in deals services to something bigger and more sustainable, I insisted on taking the leap to food delivery. It was my first business idea.
Looking at the future, what is next for Bhoj? What's next when it comes to food delivery?
Compared to other nations, Nepal is still an immature market when it comes to food delivery or any other ecommerce business. Yet the best thing about us Nepalis is that we are waiting to try on newer things. Given this, there are a lot of opportunities in Nepal in terms of untapped customer base and geographical locations. For Bhoj, the next phase of growth is to expand outside Kathmandu valley, tap into the customer base that are still not using food delivery services and to expand into other food verticals like cloud kitchens.
Bhoj has achieved some amazing feats over the years. What would be the key points you'd attribute to Bhoj's success?
One may talk about the technology, innovative ideas, etc. However, I always attribute our success to our people - The team that we have is motivated, passionate, perseveres and they all share a common purpose to make Bhoj the leading food delivery company in Nepal. Overall, the experience has been great. I love my job and can proudly say that most of the people at BHOJ will also say the same.
There are multiple sites operating in the same space. Competition is always an approval of the market but what are your views on cloning?
Competition is always welcome in the market that we are in at the moment. There is a huge unaware and untapped segment in the market which becomes more and more addressable due to more players entering the market. Also competition helps keep you on your toes and not be complacent. There is always something to learn with every new player.
What gives you the drive and thrill to work in BHOJ?
The fact that we have created such an amazing brand from scratch and a brand that people love is what drives and thrills me. Each time a foodie appreciates what we are doing, we feel like we have met our purpose.
Tell me about some of the marketing strategies that have really clicked.
Structured and integrated marketing is what drives brand awareness and conversions. Our marketing strategies that have really clicked are the ones where we have considered all possible marketing channels touching our target customers.
Operationally, what are the challenges you face currently?
Rider utilization and route optimization are some of the challenges we currently face.
What has been the mantra of Bhoj over the years?
Bhoj has and always will be about Delivering Happiness. “Bhoj Garau, Moj Garau” is our mantra.
What are you coming up with next at Bhoj?
For Bhoj, the next phase of growth is to expand into newer cities and towns in Nepal besides Kathmandu valley, such as Butwal and Bhairawaha, tap into the customer base that are still not using food delivery services and to expand into other food verticals like cloud kitchens.
Advice to young entrepreneurs who are starting out.
Execution is the key with every idea or business. You may have a great innovative idea but it won’t fly till you have a solid plan, drive, team and resources to execute. Maybe you can or maybe you can’t, but surely it’s time to find out.