by Mani Hayre
Ordering food online has become a part of everyday life. As an industry it has been growing year on year and saw it jump from $4.8 billion in 2019 to $5.9 billion in 2020.
Yet despite industry growth, giants such as Deliveroo made huge losses due to COVID19. Deliveroo’s revenue increased by 72 per cent to £476 million, but its losses also widened by 16.6 per cent from £199m to £232m in 2020. It relied heavily on chains such as Nando’s which were forced to close early on, with other restaurants following suit.
So why would a start-up look to enter this market? I caught up with Jeewan Sagu, one of the founders of EasyFood based in Birmingham to discuss.
Jeewan has an easy and amiable nature, no pun intended. Jeewan and his business partner Gurpreet Sidhu, founded EasyFood, an online ordering app, looking to take on the likes of UberEats and Deliveroo.
The Beginnings of EasyFood
“We were two young university graduates and one night we were craving chicken and wondered where we could buy it online. In 2006 the answer was nowhere.”
It led Jeewan, who has a degree in IT and Gurpreet to look at creating a platform for ordering food online and EasyFood was born.
It hasn’t been the most straightforward of starts to a business, firstly it was constant setbacks from developers who weren’t delivering on the online platform. It would be another 12 months before they moved away to make up for lost time.
If that wasn’t enough, they were mired in legal battles with Sir Stelios, owner of EasyJet and the ‘Easy’ brand, wanting them to change their name as it encroached on his own brand.
With court cases and legal battles revolving around ownership of the name, with Jeewan and Gurpreet arguing that the two businesses were unconnected, with one being an airline and the other food. They were worlds apart so what was the problem?
The case went as far as the High Court before a multi-million pound deal was struck between EasyFood and Sir Stelios, which concluded with them being taken under the ‘Easy’ brand umbrella.
“Being under the Easy brand has helped and accelerated our business with key business partners, such as MasterCard & Coca Cola, the ‘Easy’ name was the foot in the door we needed. This accelerated growth and the Easy brand allowed us to work with bigger brands.”
How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business?
“It has accelerated our business by years. The demand for ordering food online was one of the growth areas in 2020.
We moved to a franchise model with our restaurants and have a much lower flat fee than our competitors. The branding and the name we’re now associated with helps us to navigate a competitive market and build trust quickly with local restaurants to sign up to our app.
We partnered up with a local taxi firm, another industry affected by COVID19, who worked with us to deliver during the pandemic, allowing us to innovate and partner with them long term. This worked so well, we bought a stake in the business. “
Discussing the recent losses of ordering food online by giants such as Deliveroo, I asked Jeewan how are they different?
Jeewan tells me that whilst they make an initial loss with their flat fee, their overheads and general costs are much smaller in comparison.
“Easyfood isn’t acting like the middleman the way the other industry giants are. The way we are going we hope to be turning a profit by 2023.”
Charity Work During A Pandemic
“We found that a lot of restaurants had a lot of leftover food, so we looked to work with them, adding them to our manager app on Easyfood so they can manage food waste and donations. It’s a feature our direct competitors don’t have.”
Life After COVID
“We hope to keep the momentum we have built post-COVID. As our team has grown since first starting to a team of 10, we’re a more diverse team and can work with restaurants we would have been laughed out of before they came on board.
With our franchise model, we’re giving restaurants the tools to empower them, with lower fees and taking control of their own restaurant whilst becoming part of the Easy family. It reconnects the customer with the restaurant.
We’re projecting a 500% growth in the next 12 months. When we first started out orders were trickling in with 2-3 a week, and now one restaurant in Birmingham they are taking between 50-60 orders per day.
The growth we’ve seen has been on trend with the industry.”
Do You Have An Exit Strategy From EasyFood?
“We’re looking to list on the UK Stock Exchange and shed off some shares but we’ll continue to be a part of the Easy family. This is a long term plan, not something we’re thinking of just yet.”
And finally … Did they get their wish and are you able to order chicken online via EasyFood?