Shreyas Kulkarni

“We grew close to 2.5x since the peak of lockdown": Eatfit's Gokul Kandhi

A quick chat with Eatfit's head of business about the brand's overhaul, growth and designing a healthy menu.

Call it a rice bowl, a chicken Chettinad, or a chicken biryani – Indian food is the flavour of the season, not that it wasn’t earlier. But with the concepts of healthy eating, fitness and 'atmanirbhar' being embraced with more vigour, it looks like we need the country’s diverse cuisines – more than ever.

Emulating these themes is Bengaluru-based food company Eatfit. On December 19, it unveiled its new brand identity, which featured a tiger wearing shades (glasses) as its mascot and 'Honestly Indian' as its tagline.

Gokul Kandhi, Eatfit’s head of business, told us (afaqs!) that the company’s core team of about five, including the product and marketing team, spoke to its 600-odd customers. "We saw some real insights around Indian food being the real comfort food."

He went on to say that the COVID-induced lockdown was a stressful period. It made people see food as more than just 'nutrients', but “something that also entertains and comforts”. These were the insights on which Eatfit built the new brand.

Gokul Kandhi
Gokul Kandhi

While Eatfit has carried forward the love for Indian food with its new brand identity as well as food menu, it has also embraced the theme of ‘atmanirbhar’. It parted ways with its parent company Cure.Fit, a leading health and fitness company, this year. Now, Eatfit operates as an independent brand running cloud kitchens and QSRs that offer a variety of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner menus.

India was a ripe market for cloud kitchens. Back in July, Mint cited a RedSeer consulting report that projected cloud kitchens to become a $2 billion industry in the country by 2024, up from $400 million in 2019. Eatfit, Box8 and Faasos are some of the leaders in this space right now.

But the lockdown blew away the steam this space had built up. For instance, Eatfit had to shut down its cloud kitchens and QSRs in several cities, and even corporate spaces (office lunch providers), where it had found its niche.

Kandhi says that the company’s offerings were available in many offices and used to get requests from HRs and admins to set up counters. “While that has stopped completely, the market has picked up significantly from mid-January. We are seeing a lot of inbound requests. We grew close to 2.5x since the peak of lockdown.”

He also remarked that the company has plans to reopen its QSRs once the pandemic is over… “Walk-in stores are definitely on the cards.”

India at the core

Health and clean eating will always be mainstream. But Eatfit realised that to eat healthy continuously, “the core of it has to be Indian”. Even if it is a burger, you want it to have an Indian flavour, remarked Kandhi.

He explained to us the two 'axes' on which the new Eatfit stands:

The first one being honesty: clean food, wholesome ingredients, completely balanced. “Even the ingredients we use will be ones you know and will be comfortable with.”

Kandhi went on to tell us about the second axis and that is it had to be Indian.

“When we say our mascot is the tiger, we want it to be quintessentially Indian, and the glass adds swag to it. That’s how we look at our food too.”

He explained how Eatfit took a burger and made it different. “We replaced the bread with a whole-wheat kulcha. We’ve replaced the patty (double-fried in the market) with Indian gravies… It’s the highest selling product on the platform and is called kulcha burger. We’re going to build our communication around this product because it represents the brand we want to build – 'Honest desi with a lot of swag'.”

The whole promotional campaign Eatfit is building will revolve around “healthy made happier”.

We were curious to understand if the 'happier' proposition will translate into affordable prices, because not everyone is keen or can afford to splurge on outside food. Says Kandhi, “We will have pricing across the spectrum, keeping quality in mind... starting at Rs 130 to Rs 140, and going up to Rs 270 to Rs 280 for a meal.”

Dependency on food delivery giants

One of the major features of a cloud kitchen is its dependency on online food delivery players to reach out to a wider consumer base. We wondered if Eatfit will now try to get more customers to order via its app, than depend on the online food delivery players.

Kandhi disagreed, and said that it will be on all platforms because it wants to make it easy for its customers to order food from anywhere they want, to be it Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo, etc.

With the new brand identity, Eatfit will do a lot of communication around digital, social media handles… “At the core, we want to build great food. So, the next 3-4 months will be very product-led,” Kandhi signed off.