Langhar: India’s ‘Airbnb for food’ rides collaborative consumption wave


Langhar is an Airbnb for food, allowing home cooks to convert their homes into restaurants to earn extra income. For foodies, it’s a change of scenery, but for everyone else, the financial, time-based and even health related plusses to eating unique home cooked dishes, are compelling reasons to pay attention to one of Delhi’s latest culinary ventures.

Author of What’s Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing The Way We Live, Rachel Botsman, noted how technology is creating “micro-preneurs” — people become empowered to make money from their existing assets and talents.

Startups like Langhar, is one of the latest startups to latch onto collaborative consumption, or simply, the trend of people sharing access to products or services. In the way that Langhar empowers chefs to share their culinary talents, Airbnb, Buzzcar and Taskrabbit, allows for the collaborative consumption of accommodation, cars and skills respectively.

Collaborative consumption is growing on the back of what Botsman calls “reputation capital,” something that she predicts will become our most valuable asset. People can open their homes, rent out their cars, or order a meal from “strangers,” because of the power of reputation.

Langhar founder and self-proclaimed evangelist, Karanpreet (Karan) Singh, says the startup allows would-be chefs in India to earn extra income — circumventing social and cultural challenges — and, perhaps more importantly, gain reputation capital by showcasing their culinary skills to a local audience.

How does it work? By means of a web or mobile app, you can discover dishes made by home chefs in your area. Just select the location and the time you want to eat. Dishes can be selected with dine-in, deliver or pick-up options. Complete chef profiles with photos, videos, experience information and quality verification are available for perusal. The profile lists reviews and ratings for each dish and checks the social checkmarks by allowing for Facebook integration and other feedback loops.

Singh tells us that Langhar has four revenue streams. The startup takes a 25% gross cut of each dish sold — an average order size amounts to about US$4 per order — as well as a quarter of the subscription price, which is US$30 per month on average. Revenue also comes through selling ad space and via listing fees — chefs advertise for around US$15 per month.

So far, Langhar has processed 1855 orders — plus one for good karma as one meal per order is donated to the needy.

Langhar isn’t exactly a novelty. In fact, by some counts there are at least 12 active other startups doing similar things. The young Indian company, which launched in April this year, also faces competition from restaurants that are increasingly offering online ordering.

Still, investors believe in Langhar. With backing from The ARK, the Arkansas-based mentorship-driven business accelerator programme, the startup raised US$200 000, the bulk of which came from the government of Arkansas — watch their pitch — as well as undisclosed food industry veterans. Part of the US$200 000 funding Langhar secured is US$20 000 equity investment from Times Group, one of India’s largest media companies. Other shareholders include Amity University in India and Clint Lazenby of Conagra Foods in Arkansas.

The investor interest might have something to do with Langhar’s colourful founders.

At the age of 20, Singh founded MITBOTS, a company involved in robotics education in India. The company developed products like robo labs, kits and software that enhanced STEM education, benefiting thousands of students and many institutions across India, the Middle East and Africa. Singh has also been involved in developing robotics projects with UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon, security and cleaning technology with Floorbotics and ex-iRobot engineers, and entertainment robots with DAGU, China and European researchers.

MITBOTS was offered angel investments of US$500 000, twice, and has been acquired by a Dubai based education company.

Singh leads product development, strategy, marketing and finance at Langhar.

Pankaj Sharma heads up technical (web/mobile) and digital marketing at Langhar. Sharma cracked the IIT-JEE, the engineering college entrance examination in India, and managed to rank in the top 0.1% in India. He founded two web 2.0 startups namely LeapEd, an Education IT venture which broke even, and Radical Geeks — which is currently profitable — an IT consulting and online marketing company.

Langhar’s aesthetics comes by the talents of Sunil Kumar, a designer and entrepreneur. He founded a web design startup, and he “directed many short plays,” his bio says.

Finally, Pawan Kumar is the digital creative director, user interface designer and multi Channel Designer. The all-rounder oversees ecommerce aspects as well as marketing.

All members of the team have been working part-time from early 2012 on collaborative consumption projects, which after many iterations became Langhar.

The group will be bringing their company to the US in 2014, says Singh.



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