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Be passionate about your mission

FreshtoHome vertically integrated e-commerce company in the Fish and Meat

Please introduce yourself and your startup FreshtoHome to our readers!

I am Shan Kadavil, a serial entrepreneur, and a multi-functional leader who has jump-started many of the popular technology companies and start-ups in the United States and India.

My startup, FreshtoHome, is the largest vertically integrated e-commerce company in the Fish and Meat branded D2C space in the world delivering over 2 million orders a month across 3 million customers in 160+ cities in India and all of UAE. 

In my previous role, as the India Founder & Country Manager, my work has been instrumental in building the first and largest Studio outside the US for Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA), a leader in social gaming and maker of popular titles such as Farmville, CityVille, Draw Something, Words with Friends and Mafia Wars. During my tenure, Zynga India had witnessed a rocket speed growth owning and launching a number of titles that are the largest at Zynga. 

Prior to Zynga, I ran Product at Support.com (NASDAQ: SPRT), a California based company considered as the market leader in the Support automation domain as their Vice President of Products. I have served in senior management and advisory roles across a number of the leading companies in the world. 

At FreshtoHome, we are on a mission to enable access to chemical-free & antibiotic residue-free fresh fish and meat to meat lovers across the world. We are re-inventing the food supply chain from scratch by disintermediating the middlemen through the Freshtohome platform vendors and providing higher value to our stakeholders – farmers, fishers, and customers. 

Freshtohome is now the largest such venture in the world and is funded by reputed investors across the world including the US Government. 

How did you get the idea of Freshtohome?

About a decade ago, my co-founder Mathew Joseph, had started a venture called SeatoHome, an online fish delivery platform from the coastal region of Kerala in India. Hundreds of miles away, in Bangalore, I was a customer of SeatoHome and one day when my fresh fish delivery stopped, I learnt that SeatoHome was shut down as Mathew couldn’t scale the business.

As a meat lover and an angel investor, I was aware of the potential of the  D2C branded food segment, and I decided to take the leap. With a broader vision to expand our business into other categories, especially the fresh food category, we decided to call it FreshtoHome, and launched the app in 2015 in Bangalore, the famously known Silicon Valley of India.    

Why did you decide to start with Freshtohome?

At FreshtoHome, we do not sell fish and meat that we wouldn’t feed our own children. Before we set up FreshtoHome, samples collected from multiple harbors revealed that fish auctioned in these regions contained harmful chemicals like formalin, ammonia, among many others in order to increase the shelf life of the produce. For customers living far off the coasts, there was zero accessibility to chemical-free fish. With FreshtoHome, we have built a brand that champions a healthy lifestyle, and makes chemical-free food affordable.    

What is the vision behind Freshtohome?

We have been steadfast about our vision to make chemical-free and preservative-free meat affordable and accessible to millions of meat lovers. With AI and IoT-driven solutions, we have a robust supply chain management that does not depend on middlemen, who often claim about 30-40% margins. When we say we are making chemical-free food affordable, we mean that we are able to pass on the benefits to our stakeholders – fishers, customers and investors. We will strive to make choosing preservative-food affordable for the next million. 

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

Today, we work with over 4,000 fishers across India and more than 5,000 are people employed with us directly and indirectly. During the nascent stage of our journey, convincing fishers to make an unconventional bid – bidding electronically with us was a major challenge. We had to build technology that was user-friendly for the farmers and fishers, to be able to access the IoT-based e-auction app. At later stages, fostering new consumption habits in consumers was a challenge as people’s traditional choices of buying meat from wet markets had to be driven towards online buying. The Covid paved the way for this, and since then we have scaled rapidly as many first time buyers are now our repeat customers.

Who is your target audience?

Meat lovers across all age brackets from 6-60 and across all regions, who choose chemical-free fish and meat with every purchase. 

What is the USP of your startup?

Direct sourcing from over 4,000 fishers and livestock farmers is the key USP of FreshtoHome. Further, we strongly believe technology-led solutions are long term and will sustain growth. We have integrated AI and IoT driven tech infrastructure to ensure there is zero dependency on middlemen to drive the business forward. Through AI, we predict procurement volumes, and with IoT based auctions, we are disintegrating intermediaries, thus ensuring margins are not hit. End-to-end temperature-controlled supply chain has been vital to retaining the freshness of our products. 

Can you describe your typical workday ?

I wake up at 6 AM every day, and set aside some ‘me time’ including time for meditation, prayers and exercise. I consider this my magic hour because there’s a lot of silence around at this hour and I get ample time to engineer my thoughts, actions and plans towards my targets. A lot of reflection, contemplation, and self-absorption also happens during these hours. I enjoy good food and it often lifts up my mood. So, I usually start my day with a wholesome breakfast with my family. Following this, mornings start with meetings. 

Where do you see yourself and your startup Freshtohome in five years?

Our goal is guided by our mission to make preservative-food affordable for the next million.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Be passionate about your mission, focus on the journey, and don’t take your eyes off unit economics. 

Thank you Shan Kadavil for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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