Investing in food is most probably one of the most lucrative businesses in Iran, which is why more and more cafes and restaurants are popping up everywhere.
With the spread of café culture, it was only a matter of time before breakfast would start trending, too.
For a few years now, restaurant breakfasts have become widely popular. Riding on the back of this trend, a 25-year-old Iranian entrepreneur has created an app that allows those who do not have the time to sit at a café to indulge in a hot breakfast at any place.
Delion, a portmanteau word derived from delivery and online, is a locally developed mobile-based application that allows people to order breakfast between 7-10 a.m.
For a closer look at its operating system, Financial Tribune sat down with Amir Taqiabadi, the founder of the service.
After graduating in mechanical engineering, Taqiabadi developed an interest in entrepreneurial activities.
“One of the recurring problems at a company where I used to work at was that the snacks given to the employees between meals, a fruit for instance, were not appetizing and this would give rise to complaints. That was how I initially came up with the idea of delivering healthy fruit packages for business meetings,” he said.
After doing some research on existing online delivery services in the Iranian food market, Taqiabadi, who also owned a cafe for five years in Tehran, finally got the idea of creating a service that would focus on breakfast delivery.
Prior to its release, a technical team worked on developing the application for five months and “was lucky enough to attract funding very quickly”.
The app has been launched only a month ago and is fully operational for nearly two weeks. In this short time, nearly 800 people have signed up and Delion already has regular customers. According to Taqiabadi, Delion’s target customers are mainly office workers and “several companies have been ordering breakfast for morning business meetings”.
There are currently five breakfast items on the menu: French toast, Spanish omelet and English breakfast, as well as two kinds of ciabatta bread. There are also three beverages: coffee, tea and fruit juice.
“We also plan to add brunch, more drinks and seasonal fruit juices,” he said.
Behind the App
Once an order is placed, users receive a phone call to confirm their order and check the delivery address as well as the time they would like to have the order delivered.
After pressing the confirm button, a timer pops up on your screen that counts down the time until the order arrives.
If the timer hits zero before the order is delivered, the customers do not pay for the meal.
Taqiabadi explains that sometimes rainfall causes delivery delays.
“Sometimes our delivery people are not familiar with a certain area so we might fail to meet the deadline. Nevertheless, in these cases, the meals are free of charge,” he said.
On the other side of the business, once the order is confirmed, a receipt is sent out to all the branches and whichever is closer to the destination picks up the order and prepares the meal.
Delion currently has three restaurant branches in central Tehran to service the orders.
Commenting on area selection, Taqiabadi explained that “we asked 700 people to do a questionnaire that asked how much an individual earns, how many times a week they order out, how many own smartphones and what locations they work and live in. We selected the areas based on the results”.
“Our next plan is to set up a center in Shahrak-e-Gharb and Sa’databad, as we are receiving several orders from that area,” he said.
The service can currently deliver a maximum of 150 breakfasts daily and plans to gradually increase it to 600.
According to Taqiabadi, aside from the cost of transportation and delivery men, the team can be broken down into three main areas: kitchens, offices and customer support services.
The app has been released for iOS and Android phones but not for Windows, “as Windows phone owners are a minority in Iran,” Taqiabadi said.
Delion is now available for download on Google Play and Apple’s App Store and will soon be added to the Iranian application store Café Bazaar.
He explained that the team also plans to develop the app in English, but “our first priority is to add an online payment feature that is currently unavailable.”
“For now, people either wire the money or can use the portable point of sale machine that the deliveryman has to complete the payment,” he said.
People can also use the phone to place an order “but we intend to guide our customers toward primarily using the online app”, Taqiabadi says.
As an example, the discount codes and promotions can only be activated via online orders. The timer option is also exclusive to the orders received via the app. For telephone orders, customers have to pay for delivery.
According to the founder, only 1/17 of all orders are currently placed via phone.
“The reason why the phone service was added in the first place,” he says, “was that the servers crashed once when we had introduced a discount code on a weekend.”
“There were so many orders coming in that it took us quite a while before we could fix things so we asked customers to temporarily use the phone.”
Trends and Competition
Taqiabadi explained that the number of orders placed depends on the day of the month and week.
“At the start of each month, especially after payday, the number of orders is higher compared to the final weeks of a month,” he said.
“Also, patterns show that the closer we move toward the weekend, the more orders are placed. The number of orders rises on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.”
Although there are other options, such as Reyhoon’s breakfasts sold on the subway in Tehran, Taqiabadi believes his business has no direct competition so far.
“People might go to a supermarket and buy cheese and bread before stepping into the office and have a quick breakfast. But if somebody doesn’t have enough time and can’t slide out to pick stuff at the local store, then Delion comes in handy.”
In future, the young entrepreneur hopes to guide his business toward becoming a franchise that would prepare these meals in mobile trucks.
Taqiabadi said the trucks can park in different areas around the city and take orders wherever they are stationed.
“This idea,” he explains, “can be easily extended to other cities around Iran.”
Source: Financial Tribune