Kludio, a Dhaka-based full-stack cloud kitchen that calls itself a digital food court, has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A round of investment from two investors: Steve Vickers, former Chief Economist at Grab Indonesia, and Singapore-based seed-stage VC firm Impiro, reports e27. Vickers will join Kludio’s board as part of the deal.
Founded in 2019, Kludio is both a cloud kitchen and a digital food court. It does everything from making foods, collecting orders from customers through its independent social media channels, website, and app, and then using its own logistics to deliver the food to customers.
In an interview with Future Startup published last year, Kludio founder and CEO Kishwar Hashemee described Kludio as a Unilever of food delivery: “Kludio is an app that operates like a digital food court, letting you order scrumptious dishes from different food brands, delivered within one single order. So even if your friends wish to order, for instance, Italian and you’re craving deshi food, you can order both simultaneously, from the Kludio app delivered as one order. We own and operate the food brands – think of us as Unilever of food delivery. Many brands under one umbrella company.”
Business model-wise, Kludio is distinct from other cloud kitchens and food delivery businesses in a number of ways. One, it is not your traditional cloud kitchen where kitchens usually depend on food delivery apps for orders. Instead, Kludio not only controls its entire food-making process end-to-end, but it also controls distribution, partly. Unlike restaurants and other cloud kitchens that work with food delivery companies such as Foodpanda, Kludio does not entirely rely on food delivery apps for customers. It generates orders and serves customers directly.
Although some of the Kludio brands are available on dominant food delivery apps such as Foodpanda, the company continues to prioritize owning the customer relationship by going directly to customers using digital channels. To that end, Kludio is a DTC for food.
Kludio’s Evolving Operation
With the new investment, the company plans to scale the business and “introduce over 10 times more food options” for customers on its platform via existing and new partner brands, the report says.
To that end, it can be predicted that Kludio is going to open up its platform for other food brands who can sell using the Kludio platform, a strategy we predicted Kludio would eventually pursue in order to scale and effectively compete with the aggregators in the space.
It makes sense for Kludio to work with other food brands given its experience in managing food brands end to end, from manufacturing to distribution. To give one example, it can simply rent its logistics capabilities to restaurants who need logistics support as well as share its aggregated demand with other food brands similar to food delivery companies for a commission.
It not only opens up new revenue opportunities for Kludio, it also improves its relevance to customers who seek options and would rather prefer a food delivery app if they don’t find enough options in Kludio.
“There are certain upsides in becoming an independent digital food court or a full-stack cloud kitchen for that matter. The chief among them is demand control. Since Kludio serves its customers directly, it controls the customer relationship, which can be critical in a world increasingly controlled by the aggregator. As a result, Kludio does not require to pay any commission to anyone, can keep its customer data, and reach out to customers anytime they want.
All these become complicated when you work with an aggregator that many restaurants have come to realize of late working with food delivery platforms who eventually come to use their demand control and market power to dictate the terms of relationship with restaurants.
There are downsides to such a model too, particularly if you want to build a business at scale. The grocery value chain is quite complex and resource hungry. Preparing high quality and popular food brands is not easy or inexpensive either. While owning customer relationships is critical and beneficial, bringing a large number of digital customers to your app and web consistently, if what you offer is only a small number of mildly popular options, should not be easy.
The central challenge of any DTC brand is that it needs to fight with aggregators for customer attention. And often customers prefer aggregators because they get more options and more benefits from an aggregator that a small DTC brand can’t offer.
This is not a problem if you are happy with building a niche business, which most restaurants are. But if you want to build a business at scale, that’s precisely why Kludio wants to be a digital food court because while physical restaurants have many limitations when it comes to the number of customers it can serve, online practically eliminate the limitation of scale, managing everything in-house including food brands you sell could be a limiting choice.
To that end, Kludio will eventually have to open up its platform for third party brands and serve them with both technologies and logistics and space and become an aggregator itself.”
With the new investment, Kludio is set to exactly doing this.
The coronavirus pandemic has transformed travel forever. One such pronounced transformation is the rise of local travel across markets. Bangladesh is no different.
Online travel agencies are quickly adapting to this new reality. Case in point: ShareTrip. Once predominant provider of international travel services, ShareTrip has made a number of strategic shifts around getting into B2B ends of the business and launching solutions for the local market amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company has also made some serious in-roads in these verticals.
In a recent interview with FS, ShareTrip founder and CEO, Kashef Rahman explains, this shift in strategy: “We had predominantly been focused on the international market in the past years. We wanted to explore the local market, we were already working on a plan but we were planning to do so a bit later from now. COVID has pushed us to bring that plan ahead of our schedule.”
The company has since introduced two services targeting the local market and the B2B travel agents.
“We have made some major strategic changes throughout the year, largely driven by the coronavirus pandemic,” says Mr. Kashef. “We have entered the B2B market. We are focusing significantly on this market throughout the COVID period. That’s a major strategic shift we have made as our predominant focus before had been on the B2C market.”
The company has launched a new platform called ST Rooms for the local hoteliers and resort owners where they can publish their hotel rates to be showcased through ShareTrip’s transactional platforms like the B2C app, website, and B2B platform. “We have created a dedicated platform for local hotels, where they could update their inventory and sell through us,” says Mr. Kashef. The company says it already has over 250 local hotels on its platform.
The second significant strategic shift the company has made is in getting deeper into B2B business where it works with offline travel agents who can use ShareTrip’s B2B platform to buy and issue tickets in real-time. The company says it currently has over 2800 registered agents in its B2B platform. Apart from that, it has a collaboration with a2i where it works with 5000+ entrepreneurs. Of which about 500 entrepreneurs buy tickets from ShareTrip every month.
ShareTrip has a dedicated platform called b2b.sharetrip.net for B2B partners. It operates in a prepaid model where agents pay in advance and then can buy tickets as they prefer.
ShareTrip offers a special rate to the agents and offers a number of extra benefits. Agents can pay using any MFS service and other payment options.
Agents can purchase tickets anytime making the payment and the entire process only takes a few minutes.
The company says it has experienced excellent growth throughout the pandemic and keeps on adding new facilities for its B2B partners.
Local travel has been consistently rebounding out of the coronavirus pandemic. As we wrote in Travel’s Local Future:
“International travel remains limited. The airline industry continues to suffer. The outlook for international travel remains grim. Relative to that, local travel in Bangladesh has rebounded to a meaningful degree in the past few months as Bangladesh slowly eases lockdown.
Many popular tourist spots in the country are experiencing a consistent influx of tourists comparable to pre-pandemic time. This shift is forcing many OTAs to pay greater attention to the local market. [...]
Many experts suggest that in the coming years, even if people come out of the pandemic shock, people will travel more locally and widespread international travel is unlikely to rebound anytime soon.
One thing everyone agrees that long-distance business travel is not coming back anytime soon as people see less and less value in traveling for business meetings while they could do these meetings over zoom without leaving their home or office.
It means the future of travel is local, at least in 2021 and the near future.”
To that end, ShareTrip’s strategic shifts amid the coronavirus pandemic may well become a critical part of its overall growth in the coming years.