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Women's Day Special: Meet the brain behind Food Rider service, Bani Saha

Born and raised in Silchar, Bani Saha completed her graduation from GC college with Accounting and Taxation. Then she pursued her MBA from Assam University in Finance & Marketing. Simultaneously, she also completed M.Com from Gauhati University.

After completing education she moved to Delhi  to work with the second largest bank of the United States of America – Capital One. Life for her was safe and secured but the entrepreneurship bug made her realise that it is too soon for her to get into a “9 to 5” life. “Entrepreneurship taught me my real power & ability. I was raised by liberal parents & fortunately got a very supportive husband & in-laws too. Though I come from a middle class family, I did not have to support them financially. Whatever I have achieved is because I wanted to. The pleasure and satisfaction is at different level being self employed,” says she.
Here is an exclusive interview with the founder of Food Rider, a food delivery platform which has gained popularity in Silchar.
Edited Excerpts:
Q.What motivated you to launch Food Rider three years back?
My husband and I were settled in Delhi since 2010, and we were working in reputed MNCs. But, staying so far from the home town means we used to miss almost every family functions. However, the bitter part was that we could not even send a cake or any food parcel to our dear ones due to lack of delivery service provider in town.Whereas, in Delhi, we used to have outside foods especially on weekends as there were multiple food home delivery providers present.
We always wanted to be entrepreneurs one day but this lack of facility expedited the process we believe. We then started our research and slowly but steadily started to build the structure. We got a very helping hand in the form of my brother-in-law in this regard.
Finally, we started operating on 5th March 2017. At the beginning, we started on a small scale basis with limited staffs and after getting overwhelming response we gradually became a full fledged online food delivery platform. Now we deliver food from over 25 renowned restaurants and have a customer base of over 18,000.
Now we also deliver customized cakes, chocolate bouquet, rose bouquets, ice creams in order to make each and every occasion a special one.
Q.How difficult was it to explain to the restaurants about food delivery and convince them to partner you?
It was really difficult to explain the process to restaurants because it was a whole new concept for the town. We had to visit each and every restaurant personally to make them understand the model and give them the confidence that we could execute the plan flawlessly. Some of them were still in doubt that what would happen if they prepare the order and we do not pick up. For those restaurants we transferred the food bill even before placing the order so that they believe on us. Gradually we could generate the confidence in them and by the grace of God we have zero cancellation record till date.
Q.Which are the areas you get most of the orders from and why do you think Food Rider is popular in those localities?
We get orders from different areas everyday, however, orders from Silchar Medical College are more. One major reason is that very less number of food delivery services are willing to go that far. But, it is an important area for us as the students or patients staying there have very limited access to processed foods as the location is far from town. People over there are even willing to bear the extra delivery charge for a good meal.
Moreover, sometimes people have to visit SMCH on an emergency basis and earlier they had to run from pillar to post in order to arrange food. We are sure that by providing delivery service we could give them a peace of mind.
Q.In the last three years did you think of expanding Food rRder to Karimganj or Hailakandi?
Expanding our service to Karimganj and Hailakandi remains our top priority and we are already working towards it. The challenge is that only a few quality restaurants are there and very few of them have necessary licenses to ensure best practice is followed in preparing food. The good news is that they are aware of the importance of it and up for it.
Q.Recently Swiggy and Zomato made its entry in Silchar, how are you planning to take on the giants?
Its been some time that they are operating in Silchar and we are not really affected by their operations. Our work culture is little different than them. We personally talk to each and every customer and act accordingly. For example, in party orders where customers only give the number of guests expected and their budget, we design the variety and quantity accordingly. Our target is the niche segment where people love to avail the service only after interacting with a human being rather than going though a complete computerized system. For us, every customer is different and so their need is, hence we cannot generalize.
Q.How do you think Food Rider is different from what Swiggy and Zomato does? Do you think you know Silchar and Silcharians far better than them and can that be your competitive advantage?
Food Rider’s operational model is quite different in all front. I will divide this into 3 different orientations so that its easy to understand how we are different.
Orientation towards customers:
Our motto is to build trust among our customers rather than focusing on number of orders delivered. Our customers are like our family members and we help each other even in non business matters. Some of our customers started their own ventures and wanted us to be their voice, we do promotions for them without any cost.
Many home makers, college goers and freshers often approach us with some new ideas and today we have many cloud kitchens, home bakers, chocolate and bouquet designers in our list. In a nutshell, Silchar is a great place with full of creative minds and enthusiastic people, we just need some responsible hands to shape and channelize those energies.
Orientation towards restaurants: 
We always believe in a win-win situation where no one looses. The commission percentage charged by these big giants are almost 30%. Apart from that, restaurants also bear for their promotional discounts. On the other hand Food Rider charges commission maximum up to 15% and promotional discounts are managed from that percentage only. Most importantly, no record of cancellation by Food Rider after an order is placed with the restaurant, whereas these big reputed companies pay only up to 50% of the food bill to restaurants when an order gets cancelled.
Orientation towards employees:
Our employees work on a fixed salary basis and not on a commission basis where their earnings are dependent on number of deliveries they do. Apart from salary, incentives are there as well. We take all the possible measures for their safety & well being.
Q. What is your biggest challenge today?
The biggest challenge that we face on a daily basis is our traffic and road condition. There is jam in most part of the city and we have to stretch ourselves to maximum limit in order to deliver the parcel on time. Our road condition is also not the best especially the Meherpur part. This also eats major chunk of our delivery time. Last but not the least is our climate. It rains heavily from April to August here and it is not easy to deliver hot food on stipulated time. Now we became habituated of these challenges and learned to fight off. Someone has rightly said that experience does matter.

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