Times are tough and loads of independents are now offering delivery service. But what happens if you are vegetarian or vegan? Although I’ve compiled a list of independent traders in a separate post, even I admit that it can be difficult finding vegan options in the list. (A simple search on the page will hopefully help highlight any vegetarian or vegan options).
IndieHob is a platform from which you can find and order from local traders in Manchester which provide vegetarian/vegan food only. In this post, I interview, Prashant, founder of IndieHob to find out more about the business.
Who is the team behind IndieHob?
I’m the founder of IndieHob. I’m a lifelong vegetarian, and I’ve been vegan for the past 3 years. When I started IndieHob, I knew I wanted to work with other local businesses in the North West. So our platform has been developed in Manchester, with the help of local artists and designers. On the tech side, we’ve also tried to keep it as local as possible. This is an ethical decision: we want to partner with tech companies that treat their workers fairly and don’t sell their customers’ data. So personally and professionally, I don’t use Amazon.
How did you come up with the concept of IndieHob?
My wife and I moved to Manchester two years ago and found a thriving street food scene. There’s so much creativity in this city! I spoke to a lot of the vendors and realised that they were passionate about food and service, but spent a lot of their time travelling from one market to the next. This meant they had less time, and less flexibility, to do what they loved. But the only options for selling street food online were companies like Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats—companies that take a huge chunk of commission, don’t cater specifically to home chefs, and, frankly, don’t treat their riders fairly. This gave me the idea of creating an easy-to-use platform that’s suited to small indie food businesses that run from shared commercial spaces or from homes. So after having lots of conversations with street food vendors and their customers, I decided to create an ethical platform specifically for them.
Who drew the lovely illustrations used on your website?
The artist behind the illustrations is Sarah Wilson, a local Manchester-based illustrator. You can look her up on Instagram @swillistrations. She’s a recent art school grad who’s extremely talented and a delight to work with.
Why all vegan food? Why not those with vegan alternatives (you could just advertise those options)?
As a vegan myself, I wanted to create a safe space to connect vegan/veg consumers and traders. I do not want to profit from selling meat and hence the whole veg and vegan angle. We are open to partnering with any trader provided they do not sell meat on IndieHob.
How is the business model sustained?
We have no joining fees, no monthly fees, and we charge a small commission (which includes card fees) to our partner chefs only when they sell. I started this to help small indie food businesses to sell online with ease, and to have a space where they could showcase their talent. IndieHob is a small business looking out for other small businesses, so we work with home-based chefs and small food businesses rather high street restaurants and chains.
What benefit is there for businesses to sign up to your website when they need to provide their own drivers?
We are excited to announce that in a few weeks, we will be partnering with a UK-based company to provide local delivery across the UK. Our partner chefs will have the choice of delivering food on their own or working with our delivery partner. Beyond this, there are several benefits for businesses to join IndieHob: the platform gives chefs the ability to set their own pick-up or delivery schedules, to take pre-orders, and to manage their menus. Also, IndieHob streamlines the processes of advertising and taking orders: customers can place orders on IndieHob from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp. For chefs, this frees up time from taking and managing orders manually. With online payments, we’ve made it easier to place orders. We also provide free SMS and email notifications to both customers and partner chefs for order updates.
What are your business plans for the next few months? Do you plan on sustaining this after the pandemic is over?
Our eventual aim is to be the go-to platform for finding veg and vegan food prepared by local chefs. In the meantime, we’ll be providing delivery options to our partner chefs, regular platform upgrades based on user feedback, and signing up more partner chefs to provide a wider range of cuisines. We reach out to our partner chefs and customers on a fortnightly basis to collect feedback and implement features that make IndieHob more user-friendly. We are in it for the long haul. IndieHob is a very flexible platform with features like pre-ordering, daily changing menus, and flexible time slots which allow small food businesses to run smoothly, pandemic or not!
You currently have three featured chefs on your page, Vegan Ray, Chiit Chaat and The Isolated Italian. What are your favourite dishes from each?
I love the entire range of prepared foods and meal kits from IndieHob’s partner chefs. But if I had to pick one favourite from each of them, I’d choose the chana masala from Chiit Chaat, which is slow-cooked with traditional Indian spices. From Vegan Ray, I’d choose the meatball sub kit. It’s easy and fun to assemble, and the vegan meatballs and marinara sauce are to die for! And from the Isolated Italian, I’d choose the vegan creamy tomato pasta bake. The vegan cheese sauce is rich and delicious, and the whole ensemble comes together perfectly!
Thank you, Prashant!
To find out more and order delicious vegetarian and vegan food, check out their website.