In conversation with LivegreenBD about the changing landscape of the restaurant business. This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the Food and Beverages sector in Bangladesh
We first spoke to Gazi Nashek, and Shafqat Chowdhury ahead of their launch in the third quarter of 2019. The young food tech company was poised to shake things up in the F&B sector. Covid 19 has, understandably put paid to everyone’s plans for 2020, so we sat down with the duo and Livegreen BD’s PR specialist Ashfi Ahmed to catch up.
Let's start with an obvious one - what made you decide to enter the food tech industry in the first place?
It all started with the most overrated question people of our age often ask when we hang out together. “Hungry…so what do we eat?” Two of us have lived abroad and our life circumstances left no choice but to work hard so that we could eat well. The idea came from there, during the most random event when all of us happened to be together in one place. Why don’t we do something about one of our common loves- food?One white board and two blank heads. After innumerable black coffee shots, arguments and disagreements and yahoos, we came up with our first brain child.
You started a cloud kitchen at a very interesting time: businesses like Cookups were battling out delivery platforms like Hungrynaki, Pathao and Shohoz, while brick and mortar establishments were using the power of Instagrammable decor to drive traffic through their doors. What were the challenges and highlights of establishing yourself?
All of us at LivegreenBd love challenges. It’s what makes us push boundaries. Our direct and indirect competitors have allowed us to become more innovative. The team has an unwavering focus on customers that has made stepping up easier.
Dhaka offers a lot of business opportunities but also sets its own challenges that are very unique. This includes sourcing fresh food, setting up the smart kitchens and navigating through Dhaka’s traffic to deliver food on time. One of the major challenges we face isn’t from our competitors or logistical; it’s cultural. We love food. You cannot imagine Dhaka without its thriving food scene. What concerns us at LivegreenBD is the harmful and unhygienic substances found in food that people purchase.
The phenomenal rise of the economy in Bangladesh has resulted in an increase in appetite for good quality products. We are deploying creative marketing to inform and educate people about our products that match their desire to eat great food without picking up germs or harmful substances.
The products we designed were inspired by our very clients, we learned to understand to satisfy our clients' demand. Its precision and persistence that has enabled LiveGreenBDto thrive.
What do you feel sets you apart?
We put the customer's wellbeing at the heart of everything that we do. We are a company that is also focused on developing the capability of its team. We base most of our decisions on data and evidence. LivegreenBd allows creativity to flourish by involving everyone in the team and it lets food be the key to our motivation.
Covid 19 has obviously shaken things up for everyone. What has adjustment looked like for your business?
Food requires attention in full measures to ensure hygiene and cleanliness. Our general practice within the company has helped us to endure the pandemic. When Covid-19 arrived as a larger threat we took immediate measures to ensure our teams security. We adopted additional safety measures in accordance with the government’s guidelines. This enabled us to get back to operation as soon as we rebooted within our company.
What does dining look like in 2030? What do you see happening in this sector in the foreseeable future?
No matter the challenges, the food industry will continue to adapt and reshape. As people become more concerned about food safety standards, customers will set new expectations for entrepreneurs and businesses.
More and more people will become reliant on their mobile devices to order food to accommodate their busy lifestyle rather than making plans to visit a restaurant. The new competitive business model such as cloud kitchen will force businesses to focus more on the quality of food, bringing in an added level of convenience for the consumers. We have entered an era of Artificial Intelligence. This will become more prevalent in 10 years and we in the food tech industry will be forced to deal with a customer’s virtual assistant rather than the actual person.
Tell us a little more about your Gofundme campaign.
The novel coronavirus has presented us with immense and unforeseeable challenges. A rapid response on a huge scale was required to support those daily earners of Dhaka who immediately lost their income when strict lockdown measures were introduced to protect people’s lives. We at LivegreenBd wanted to do as much we could for the people who were in dire need. So we called out for help and setup a GoFundME page. The response from people across the world was overwhelming. The funds donated were used to distribute food to the disadvantaged and those who have lost their source of income for example, rickshawpullers. While the lockdown measures have eased, the pandemic was a stark reminder that there are a lot of people living below the poverty line. We are now determined to continue to support the underprivileged in Bangladesh post Covid-19.