Picture this scenario, not so uncommon till four years ago. You come home, tired out from work, and the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. Back then, you really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Fast forward to 2017, and such a scenario is now a thing of the past. You can now have your favourite restaurant deliver food to your house, at the click of a button (or few), thanks to the growing number of online food technology companies in the space. Though the industry was severely affected by the funding slowdown in 2016, a study done by RedSeer Consulting showed that it still grew at 150 per cent year-on-year in 2016, with an estimated gross merchandise value (GMV) of $300 million – and the market leader in this space is the Bengaluru-based Swiggy, which was recently awarded the Startup of the Year at the Economic Times Startup Awards 2017. It’s been a phenomenal journey for a company that was founded three years ago, in 2014, with six delivery executives and 25 restaurants on its platform, and bootstrapped till January of the following year. Today, it is present in eight cities and completes around 4 million orders a month, has more than 12,000 restaurant partners and close to a 20,000-strong delivery fleet – the largest for any food-tech company in India, which is where it manages to score over rival Zomato, who currently averages around 3-3.2 million deliveries a month.

Swiggy was co-founded by Sriharsha Majety, Nandan Reddy and Rahul Jaimini in August 2014. Majety, a BITS Pilani and IIM-C alumnus and Reddy, also from BITS Pilani, were working on a logistics platform called Bundl Technologies, which shut shop in 2014, as there wasn’t yet much demand for such a product. However, at the same time, the duo realised the scope of the hyperlocal delivery business catering to the food order and delivery space, which was still largely untapped. They roped in IIT-Kharagpur alumnus Rahul Jaimini, and thus was born Swiggy, in the Bengaluru neighbourhood of Koramangala, witness to many of the IT capital’s start-up stories.

“When we decided to shut Bundl, we knew we have to dive into hyperlocal delivery and give it a shot,” Majety told Rediff.com in an interview in 2015. “We also understood that ordering platforms for restaurants were very broken. Ordering food has always been a big hassle, and hence, we decided to take the plunge and fix it with Swiggy.”

According to a statement on the company’s website, Swiggy was inspired by the thought of providing a complete food ordering and delivery solution from the best neighbourhood restaurants to the urban foodie. “A single window for ordering from a wide range of restaurants, we have our own exclusive fleet of delivery personnel to pick up orders from restaurants and deliver it to customers . Having our own fleet gives us the flexibility to offer customers a no minimum order policy on any restaurant and accept online payments for all partner restaurants that we work with. Our delivery personnel carry one order at a time which ensures we get reliable and fast deliveries.” Two key parameters – their own delivery personnel and a no-minimum-order policy – were the key drivers in setting the company off on a rapid growth trajectory.

The numbers today bear testimony to the company’s success. It is one of the best-funded startups in this space having raised approximately $155 million in equity funding, and it is valued at around $400 million. Its most recent round of funding – series E – earlier this year, raised $80 million, led by South African media company Naspers Ltd. Existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, Accel Partners, SAIF Partners, Harmony Partners and Norwest Venture Partners also participated. According to a report in The Ken, Swiggy’s revenue in the year ending March 2017 was 132.2 crore, a figure that grew 6.5 times over last year. The company claims to have an average delivery time of 36 minutes per order, and industry-best repeat orders.

“(The ET Startup of the Year Award) is a humble testament to Swiggy’s vision of changing the way India eats, and the fantastic execution by the team,” Majety told The Economic Times. “It all boils down to the quality of the service,” he said. “For us, the battle that is front and centre is how do we become the most convenient and most reliable food-ordering platform? How do we offer the same pre-order and post-order experience? By sharply focussing on customer experience and getting better at it, we have been able to consolidate our gains, continue to move the (cash) burn in the right direction and come out of a hard year.”

In a bid to stave off its rivals, Swiggy marked its first foray into the market as supplier with The Bowl Company, which was started in Bengaluru. According to a blog post by the company, The Bowl Company focusses on ‘multi-cuisine food customised to the needs of a working professional, delivered in a bowl’. It recorded 270 orders per day in July 2017, contributing to 7 per cent of the market share in that area. In November, Swiggy launched Swiggy Access, an initiative that will allow its restaurant partners to set up kitchens in areas where they currently don’t operate. To this effect, Swiggy has set up a 3200 sq feet ‘access kitchen’ in Marathahalli in Bengaluru.

“What really makes Swiggy stand out is its focus on scaling the right way, which is scaling with customer experience at the forefront,” said Binny Bansal, group CEO at Flipkart and a member of the ET Startup Awards jury, in The Economic Times. “They have checked all the boxes of how a startup should scale without shortcuts. Food-tech needs such execution to prove that this industry is viable. If Swiggy hadn’t achieved this, there would have been a big question mark on the food-tech space.”