My favourite food-ordering app,
We need to talk. You know I’ve always been your number one fan but lately our relationship is turning sour. At first I kept quiet in the hopes that you would change and that you’d allow room for both of us to grow together. But, clearly I was wrong.
I remember the dizzying moments of happiness when we both got together the first time. We both were startups, convinced that if we put together your mobile app and my delicious food we could change the world, one delicious plate of food at a time. I fell in love with the idea that people across the city could order my food through your app and you seduced me with any chef’s ultimate dream – people happily eating my food day after day.
Looking back, I realise the first red flag was when we signed our agreement. You slipped in a clause demanding that I be in an exclusive relationship with you, when as startups we both should really be okay with the other playing the field. Healthy competition never hurt anyone, after all. Yet, while I stayed exclusive despite losing out on several other opportunities, the same rule didn’t seem to apply to you – you went from having one vendor that sold salads to having almost ten. I was lucky that my food is quite specialised but hey, what’s with the double standards?
Regardless, when you raised your big round of funding, I was ecstatic. I showed the articles to my family knowing that surely this would be the turning point. And it was.
You requested that I lower my prices even more. The reason? You wanted to feed the masses and the only way that you could continue to offer the crazy discounts you did was, if I sold my gourmet food to you at the bulk rates my local street food caterer does.
You knew this would be a kick in my stomach. I couldn’t possibly change the quality of ingredients I use – my brand was at stake – but further lowering my prices meant that I would only earn a meager ₹10 – 20 per portion. I salute you though – you sure knew how to keep me reeled in. Your executive sitting in his rocking massage chair at your swanky new office promised me on the phone while I cooked yet another sad order of five plates that the situation would improve. You were expanding and soon the orders of 25+ plates would roll in.
And so, I ignored the fact that I had only earned ₹100 after toiling in the kitchen for 2 hours and waited. It’s been six months and I am still waiting.
Even crazier is the recent call I got updating me on your newest policies. Forget about increased orders, you’re now apparently on a ‘wastage reduction’ model and will not only be giving me even fewer orders, but you also will only pay me 40% for unsold inventory. Of course, you once again want me to review my prices. And, when I protest that doing so would mean I hardly even cover my food costs, you tell me this is how it is – take it, or leave it.
The real reason this relationship is turning toxic is because you keep expecting me to carry the burden of your mistakes. Why must I not be paid for food you were unable sell despite having a flashy “business intelligence system”, when that is the sole reason I work with you. And, why must I spend hours on follow up calls and paperwork to comply with the latest policy you’re experimenting with.
Sure, I may just be a home-chef and not in the big leagues like you are. But, I need to survive too. And, while you burn through your investors’ cash, I am actually burning through savings I’ve worked hard to build trying to keep up with your arm-twisting tactics.
Weird as this sounds, I am still rooting for you to change. I still believe in our dream to change the world, one delicious plate of food at a time. The question is, do you?
A Heart-broken Home-Chef
Disclaimer: This letter is not addressed to any particular food ordering aggregator in the market but to all companies following this model. It has been written with the intention to highlight how the vendor providing the food – arguably the most important component of the business offering – is being marginalized. It is my hope that survival of the home-chefs will also be taken into consideration as these companies grow.