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Soumik Kar

Big Idea

Hunger games
IIT-B alumni recreate the Zomato magic for Mumbaikars with the TinyOwl food-ordering app

Sonia Mariam Thomas

Feeding success: (L-R) Co-founders Harshvardhan Mandad, Gaurav Choudhary, Saurabh Goyal and Shikhar Paliwal

With the current generation turning to apps for most activities, for Harshvardhan Mandad, Saurabh Goyal and Tanuj Khandelwal — looking for an enterprise to indulge in — a food-ordering app was their best bet. “People want everything on their fingertips sans human interaction. Our app does just that,” Mandad explains.

These IIT Bombay alumni, including Shikhar Paliwal and Gaurav Choudhary, set up TinyOwl with a plush investment of $3 million from Nexus Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. Starting with the suburbs of Powai and Andheri in Mumbai, it now covers 3,500 restaurants across Mumbai. When a user places an order on the app, TinyOwl takes a cut of 10-15% per order from the restaurant. The user can then choose to pay the restaurant either via card or cash-on-delivery. Initially, marketing figured little in its business, with only some local below-the-line activity. Today, apart from its massive presence in Mumbai, it plans on expanding to Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune by the end of next year.

While TinyOwl seems to be successfully capturing the Mumbai market, where does it fit in a country that is slowly turning to apps to decide its menu for the day? Mandad confidently says, “The biggest competitor is ordering food by calling restaurants. We are working on building a habit among users and providing them with a seamless experience.” Will TinyOwl become the big fish in the market? The founders surely do believe so. “We will be market leaders in this space by next year,” they say.

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