How an event management firm turned into a dock-to-door seafood delivery start up

By P Vatsalya | Mumbai

Updated: 09 August, 2020 08:05 IST

A Vile Parle events management firm, instead of folding up after a lockdown hit, decides to bring fresh catch from dock-to-door via WhatsApp

Santosh Menon runs an integrated events and marketing solutions agency out of Vile Parle. Menon's business took a hit during the lockdown, given that physical distancing norms have put a stop on all on ground events and outdoor activities. "It has been a struggle to retain our employees because business has gone kaput since March."

But the team decided that they wouldn't scatter. Together with their CEO, they held brainstorming sessions on how best to survive the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

On his way to office one day, Menon spotted vehicles loaded with fresh veggies serving customers at their housing society gates. "I figured if they can do it, why can't we? I told my team, let's use our core competencies to build something new."

The youngsters at Brandmela put their heads together, determined to innovate their way out of the problem. Given that most of them are seafood lovers, they decided they'd enjoy dealing in fresh catch.

Gaurav Gopale

Their lockdown-inspired venture, Macchi Express, is a dock-to-door seafood delivery service. They are operational four days a week—Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Customers can WhatsApp them to receive their menu card for the week before they place an order. Requests for cleaning, cutting and/or deveining are accepted at the charge of R30-60 per kg. The seafood is taken to Vile Parle, where it is packed as per customers' instructions, following recent WHO furnished safety norms. "We decided to launch a pilot of two weeks in July to gauge response. We managed to sell 350 kg of seafood in 15 days," says Shashank Nambiar, head of marketing and strategy. To ensure that everything was up to the mark, the team first ordered seafood to their own residences and sought critical feedback from family.

"We don't compromise on quality. That's our USP. We head to the dock ourselves and purchase the stock. Given that we were in a profession that's people-centric, we applied those values to our startup. And that's how we've been receiving repeat orders from customers," he adds. Word of mouth publicity has helped their fledgling business grow.

Santosh and Nandini Menon

A team headed by Hiten Rajput reaches the docks around 4 am to pick up fresh catch of the day. Rajput, head of operations, lives in Virar, but his passion for seafood makes him happily travel at odd hours. "If the fish isn't fresh, we don't touch it. Last week, we decided not to buy surmai, although it was listed on our menu card and customers had placed their orders accordingly. The decision was taken at 5 am after a discussion with Nandini ma'am." Nandini Menon, chef and seafood lover, is the managing partner at Macchi Express. Their customer service team called up the customers to check if they'd like a replacement.

The team, also including Tavisha Sawhney, Sandhya Patekar, Gaurav Gopale, Lokesh Anubhavne, Sanjeevani Parab and Hemani Badani, doesn't believe they will manage to return to events in the near future. Until then, it's going to be fishing for new opportunities.

Shashank Nambiar

To order Whatsapp 9867470706; Instagram, @macchiexpress Cash on delivery only

Hiten Rajput

Lokesh Anubhavne

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First Published: 09 August, 2020 07:27 IST

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