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The story of Doodhwala and it’s tragic downfall

What is Doodhwala?

Our country has an abundance of fresh and creative startups, especially in the food delivery sector. Many companies focus on specific categories or come up with unique ideas to stand out. While Zomato delivers food orders from restaurants, FreshtoHome gives you healthy food produce. Some startups like FoodyBuddy bring you pure home-cooked meals from your own neighbourhood. The food delivery business can be very risky because the customers expect a certain quality. Most people do not compromise on the safety and standards when it comes to food products. The journey of a company may also meet unforeseen circumstances that force it to shut down. Doodhwala (1) is one such startup that had to end the business after just four years of starting business.

Doodhwala is a hyperlocal delivery startup from Bangalore that delivers a large variety of fresh grocery items straight to home. It was founded by Aakash Agarwal and Akbari in the year 2015. The name comes from the doodhwalas in our country who bring milk early in the morning. Doodhwala completed their orders before 7 am every day. Other than dairy products, this startup also provided fruits, vegetables, meat and other food products.

By the end of 2019, Doodhwala announced that the startup was closing down due to unfavourable circumstances. They passed over their consumer base to FreshToHome. Doodhwala was operational in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune by the time they shut down. They used to complete over 400K conveyances in a month a year ago. They also delivered more than 30,000 litres of milk each day before 7 am, out of which 60 per cent was in Bengaluru alone. The organisation has raised $4 million from financial specialists, for example, Omnivore Partners and so forth.

The beginning of Doodhwala

Aakash Agrawal and Ebrahim Akbari, the co-founders of Doodhwala

Aakash Agrawal and Ebrahim Akbari, the co-founders of Doodhwala, came up with the idea because of the relevance of milk in the country. Ever since the boom due to the milk revolution, the people of India have considered it a necessary item in the house. However, the milk delivery system has been working in a similar way through all these years. The traditional method of milk delivery had a lot of gaps that needed solutions. Nobody indeed attempted to handle this dispersion issue. Since it is a necessity of each and every family in the nation, Aakash and Ebrahim decided to find a solution.

The startup focused on any citizen who wants to subscribe to a regular milk delivery. This target group is nearly 85 per cent of the country. They worked to solve the problems in the traditional supply chain and make it more efficient. Doodhwala had a vision to provide a more effective delivery system for milk. They were also able to decrease the wastage by 70 per cent. Doodhwala utilises innovation for quick and hassle-free delivery. The team was also good at analysing consumer data and predicting the market. Furthermore, their clients were able to place orders quickly, give input, and pose inquiries through their application.

Doodhwala connected with a large number of milkmen to get their supplies. The team proved that technology was its biggest strength. All that they did at Doodhwala had an innovative approach to it. Although they had decent results in the first few years, the founders knew that they had to evolve. Their primary focus was on getting a low-cost supply. Soon they started expanding to other food products like fruits, vegetables etc. By the year 2018, they had the most reduced operational expense in the business.

The downfall of the startup

Doodhwala had achieved commendable growth in its early years because of the correct utilisation of innovation. At the same time, every startup needs to make necessary improvements to adapt to the market. However, they did not intend to expand their range any further. The online delivery industry saw a lot of changes and evolution, but Doodhwala had only arrived at just level one of development. They had been concentrating on a business model that focused solely on grocery products. But Doodhwala had a lot more levels to complete before success was a certainty.

As per the statistics that Apptopia gave out, the organisation’s month to month downloads was at 34,146. They were also facing a month-on-month (M-o-M) fall of 34.28 per cent as of October 1, 2019. In the same month, Ebrahim declared in an email that the startup was handing over their business to FreshToHome. This Bengaluru-based delivery startup was to assume control over all their tasks. He said through the email that the startup was stopping all their administrations because of unexpected conditions. Not long after that, news had it that Doodhwala’s representatives enlisted FIRs against it. The company faced accusations that they were delaying the salary for a long time.

Controversy and FIR against Doodhwala

A gathering of sellers had documented an FIR against Doodhwala authors Aakash Agarwal and Ebrahim Akbari. They claimed that the company owed them numerous crores as pending salary. As indicated by the reports, the organisation had been holding back the wages of months from workers and sellers. The data came out after Doodhwala declared that they were handing the company over to FreshToHome. Regarding the case, an FIR was documented at the Ulsoor Police Station here.

A seller was cited as saying in the report that Doodhwala supposedly owes ₹6-7 crore to around 30-35 merchants. As per their statements, Agarwal and Akbari are trying to ignore them as their telephones are turned off. Radha Krishna, who was the marketing head for Doodhwala, had documented a protest against the founders. This case filed on October 22, 2019 was over unpaid pay from July-September. He asserted that they owed Rs 2.88 lakh to him.

As per Sunny, who functioned as a product designer at the organisation, he had not received the salary from June. After getting to know about this, he quit the organisation before the end of June. However, he was yet to get his June compensation by October. Another worker in the tech group disclosed to the media that they did not get their pay rates since July. By September 2019, the company had asked them to quit their jobs. Since they could not get their cash, a few merchants too gave up providing items to the organisation in September because of unpaid duty.