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The major challenge that comes across is the skill gap in the operating team: Dippankar S Halder, Jalongi.com

In an interview with BW Disrupt, Dippankar S Halder, Founder at Jalongi.com, a specialist online retailer of Fish & Seafood, talks about company’s business model, funding and more

  1. Brief about your business model like how did the idea came to start and how does it work.

Back in 2005-2007, I was the founding CEO of Spinach Supermarkets in Mumbai (DHFL Group). This $35 Mn ARR chain had $2 Mn+ of Fish & Seafood. Subsequently, I had set up EasyDay stores for Bharti Walmart Venture where we had  built  a $100 Mn ARR chain with  $10 Mn+ ARR in Non-Veg category. Post 2015, We all have seen how Indian consumers got comfortable buying food & grocery online. Fish & Seafood is a $8bn+ category, unorganised and has a big value unlocking opportunity. With category familiarity and experience at scale, I realised that it was the right time to start Jalongi.com, to take fish & seafood online.

Jalongi was founded in 2018 as a Gurgaon headquartered venture. We launched the business in Kolkata, just to be baptised on fire in the most competitive market for the category. In Late 2018, we launched our services in Gurgaon followed by NCR in April 2019. Recently, we have started long distance deliveries to Mumbai & Hyderabad. Also, Jalongi is an iconic Bengal river that runs close to the village where I was born. 

2. What are the unique key points of your company?

Jalongi.com has the widest range of fresh water & sea water fish in the country (60-80 items at any point in time). We have end to end ownership of the value chain, from buying to last mile delivery that sets us apart in this complex & sensitive category : delivering range, quality, freshness, consistently.

3. How are you different from the existing competitors?

 a) We have the widest range including exclusive items like Sunderban Bhetki, Mud Crabs, Prawns or Himalayan Rainbow Trouts. (60-80 items, all days)

b) Unparallel quality and freshness delivered by our own direct sourcing model. (70%+ direct sourcing)

c) Every order is custom cut to the choices of the consumer. We call them Pan-Ready and custom cutting is the first part of being pan ready.

d) All items are cleaned and washed with RO water so that they need little or no handling at home, giving customers freedom from stinky hands. That is the second part of our unique Pan-Ready offering. This is a big hit among home makers and their helps.

e) We also have a range of Recipe Ready Packs  on classics like Bhetki Paturi, Patrani Pomfret etc. which are all prepared and need simple finishing or cooking at home.

Fundamentally Jalongi.com has the best practice retail model at work that ensures continuity, consistency and a profitable progress. From sourcing to delivery, everything is in-house. This is one of the core reasons behind the continuous operations even during COVID times and has led to a growth of 3x in terms of our revenue during this period.

 4. What is the funding status and monetization model?

We are a bootstrapped venture so far and currently working on our series A fund raising.  It will be utilised to grow the business including cold chain and technology.

5. What challenges are you facing in running your business?

The major challenge for the sector is in the skill gap in processing & operations, especially in cutting, handling and storage. To bridge the gap, we run continuous ‘Training Programmes’ at our processing centres. We are setting up our  ‘Integrated Development Centres’ (IDCs) at coastal villages to run Training schools. IDCs will also be collection centres where local fishermen and fish farmers will sell their catches. The first IDC will be set up in West Bengal by December 2020 followed up by 10-12 more centres in coastal states by 2022.

6. How has been the people`s response so far?

We have received an overwhelming response from the customers across all operating cities. Jalongi.com has 79% monthly repeat customers and we are growing 3x+ year on year.  Kolkata is usually one of the most competitive market for the sector. However, for us this city has been one of the winning fields, our ‘City of Joy’ literally. NCR has also given us a great response and   Mumbai & Hyderabad  are also growing fast. 

7. What are the traction details?

In a short period of 2 years of time, we have built a customer base of over $1.5 Mn monthly consumption. With 3x year on year growth we are on track to be a $100+ million Company by 2025.

8. How do you look at expansion?

Our  immediate focus is to grow newly launched operations in Mumbai & Hyderabad. Thereafter we will be in Bangalore, Chennai and a select Tier 1 cities. 

9. What are your marketing plans?

We will have a combination of digital marketing and traditional media channels which have worked well for  us so far.

10. What has been the biggest learning’s so far?

The contrast of Kolkata where one gets fish in abundance with supply deprived NCR was revealing. We  had to play in totally different ways and that was a big learning for us. And off course COVID19 gave us huge lessons to survive and grow under all possible constraints. 

11.  What is the market size and opportunity? 

Indian urban Fish & Seafood consumption is estimated as a $8 Bn market in 2020 growing at 22% p.a., making it a $22bn opportunity by 2025. 


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