Rebel Foods, which operates a network of cloud kitchen and quick service restaurants (QSR) brands such as Behrouz Biryani, Mandarin Oak Ovenstory Pizza, and Faasos, is planning a public listing in the US within one year.
The decision comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the company’s decision to expand in various other countries in Asia and Middle East regions. It was announced by Rebel Foods cofounder and CEO Jaydeep Barman in an interaction with a media organisation.
Founded by Jaydeep Barman and Kallol Banerjee, Rebel Foods started out as a QSR chain with its brand Faasos to sell kebab rolls, with an online ordering option.
The founders later changed their busness model as rentals skyrocketed and there was a rapid spike in online order from their platform and various other food delivery platform. They shuttered outlets and pivoted to a cloud-kitchen only business in 2016, delivering a range of cuisines from kitchens operating in spaces that had lower rents.
It is now one of the largest internet restaurant companies with over a dozen brands that serve biryani to Chinese to pizza to wraps to desserts, through food delivery platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy, apart from its own apps. It counts Sequoia Capital India, Lightbox ventures, Coatue, Goldman Sachs, Gojek, and Uber founder Travis Kalanick as investors and was valued at over $800 million in its last round of funding in 2020.
Its next round of funding will catapult Rebel Foods into the unicorn club. Jaydeep Barman said the last round was absolutely close and this time he expects the company to become a unicorn (privately funded firm valued at a billion dollars and more)
“If it is not a unicorn we are not doing a good job. We are more focused on an IPO in 18 months. We will be raising a private round between now and then but nothing is finalized yet,” said Jaydeep Barman.
Jaydeep Barman also said the company is waiting for some clarifications on government regulations on the direct overseas listing. “If that comes through, we will list on NYSE or Nasdaq, otherwise, we will list in India,” said Jaydeep Barman.
Rebel Foods is going ahead with its plan to expand its geographical presence beyond India, UK, UAE, and Indonesia to markets such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain. In the last two months, it has opened kitchens in Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangladesh. Apart from its own kitchens, Rebel is also opening its cloud kitchen platform for third-party brands such as Wendy’s, Naturals ice cream, and Anand Sweets.
Jaydeep Barman said the company is trying to plug every gap- from single-serve to group services, from value to luxury.
“We will launch an Indian curries brand and a luxury meals brand. For Wendy’s, we will add 300 kitchens for them by the end of 2022,” said Jaydeep Barman.
While coming to India business, Jaydeep Barman said the company is doubling down on smaller cities that are taking to ordering food online in a big way.
“The second wave of the pandemic seems to have accelerated the trend, as people have fewer options for entertainment and indulgence. We have opened in 20 Tier-2 cities and these have grown very fast In the big metros, while we are seeing demand in Mumbai and Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru is not growing as much as many software engineers have gone back to their hometowns,” said Jaydeep Barman.
In contrast to the first wave, when Rebel had to shutter its 70% of its kitchens for a couple of months in 2020, this time around, its business is thriving as people are comfortable ordering food online, with state governments too allowing this as an essential service.
Jaydeep Barman also pointed out that the company’s business is now probably 30% to 40% above pre-Covid-19 levels. “Anything that is indulgent is doing well- such as Biryani, pizza, or dessert. People need something good in their lives,” said Jaydeep Barman.