Gourmet meals delivered: EatFirst​

After more than seven years of working long hours as an executive director in the City, Rahul Parekh felt the struggle of eating healthy first hand.

So began EatFirst, the capital’s first online-only restaurant, targetting the thousands of Londoners struggling to find healthy home-delivered food after a long day

Name: Rahul Parekh

Location: London

Date launched: August 2014

Number of employees: Over 50 (including delivery drivers)

What does your business do?

EatFirst is an online-only restaurant, delivering fresh, chef-made meals across selected postcodes in zones 1, 2, and 3 in London.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I was employed at Goldman Sachs for over seven years as an executive director, working long hours with minimal time to spare, and found maintaining a health conscious diet was a challenge. I soon realised many Londoners like me faced the same issue. The solution was fresh, well-balanced meals delivered in a convenient way. Two months later, I left Goldman Sachs and launched EatFirst.

How did you know there was a market for it?

EatFirst is filling a gap by meeting the needs of those who have busy lives yet still want good quality, healthy dishes. The UK is an increasingly health conscious country and EatFirst provides a dynamic dining experience that’s passionate about bringing new, fresh and nutritious options to the consumer.

EatFirst has a team of top chefs specialising in various cuisines

How did you raise funding, and why?

EatFirst has received investment from a number of organisations, and we secured $8 million investment during our latest round of funding. EatFirst also continues to be supported by business incubator Rocket Internet, one of the world’s largest internet platforms outside of the US and China.

Rocket Internet’s strong food business experience and record in building IT platforms has been invaluable in growing EatFirst into London’s fastest growing online restaurant.

The funding we have secured and the support we have received has been instrumental in rapidly expanding the service we provide – when we began trading EatFirst only offered hot lunch deliveries during the week, today our customers are able to order lunch and dinner seven days a week, which arrives chilled, to increase convenience and maximise freshness. We recently launched brunch and weekend deliveries, having identified a need to satisfy Londoners’ growing appetites for weekend food delivery. Since we launched brunch, we’ve noticed an increase in social media activity and have expanded our customer base.

Describe your business model in brief.

Customers can order EatFirst via the website or app, and can select from a wide range of cuisines. We have a team of chefs who make all these meals fresh every morning, from our own central kitchen in East London. Customers choose from a list of 45-minute delivery slots available from 11am to 3pm and 5:30pm to 10pm, seven days a week – these are then delivered by our team of delivery drivers.​

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

At only fifteen months old we secured capital injection of over $8 million, evidence that our high quality online restaurant model has great potential – a few weeks later we celebrated delivering our 100,000th meal. Since then we have been able to launch new services, including most recently our brunch service, which is expected to grow the business 25 per cent in the coming three months.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

One of the lessons I’ve learnt since starting up EatFirst is not to hurry anything, as there’s really no room for slip-ups. When I was younger I felt that if I didn’t rush, I might fall behind. However, hasty decisions can lead to mistakes. When you own a business it’s so important to take your time and really consider your options to ensure your business succeeds and your objectives are met.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We want EatFirst to be the largest online-only restaurant in five years, and aim to achieve this by expanding our offering to other UK cities, for example Manchester and Edinburgh, and across Europe.

What is your philosophy towards business and life, in a nutshell?

Never give up. There are always going to be challenges that test you professionally and personally, but when you overcome them you become more knowledgeable and stronger as a person.

Rahul Parekh is a speaker on the Entrepreneurs Panel at the ‘Battle of the Backers’.

See also: The app-etising future of business

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.