– Supporting a Healthy Diet with Home Delivery Service

Young couple Marita Genebashvili and Leko Shatirishvili started their own business when the word ‘startup’ in Georgia was associated with a failed corporate career. However, their career was anything but a failure. Leko and Marita worked in managerial positions at major Georgian and international companies, but a tough work schedule, fixed wages and dreams about Friday coming round proved uninspiring, while the dream to start their own business gained ever greater clarity in their minds. They started seriously working on their ideas in 2014 and put those ideas into action two years later. This is how - a web platform offering a healthy diet and delivery service, was created. The young entrepreneurs had plenty of unforeseen problems to solve, but the nights spent in experimentation were definitely worth the setting up of this unique Georgian product.

“We worked in many corporations, and saw numerous employees around us. We realized that if a person, regardless of position or income, can’t wait until Friday and lives for the day they get their salary each month, he or she is unhappy with life and needs to change something. There is only one solution: you have to do something that you love so much you will be ready to dedicate any day to it,” Leko says.

Prior to launching their innovative platform came marriage, years spent in successful companies, a master's degree at Grenoble University and never-ending preparations to make their business ideas a reality. And this at a time when startups were not as popular and respected as they are today.

A hobby as a business idea

The couple had common passions. They mastered photography and the culinary arts together. “Unless you have a health problem yourself, you cannot appreciate the importance of a balanced diet.” Marita first mastered the preparation of simple dishes and then started preparing new dishes every week. “We even watched TV series about cooking available online. The topic fascinated us, and it turned out that we were doing it well,” recalls Marita.

Leko worked at the company Natakhtari, while Marita worked at Bank of Georgia in the field of e-commerce. Their hobby was added to their professional experience and the idea of creating an e-commerce platform for food by combining both was born.

The couple started working on the concept even before Foodpanda entered the Georgian market. However, it took some time for the implementation of the idea: when appeared on the market, several companies were already providing food delivery services.

“It took us almost two years to mobilize finances and create the web platform. We took a loan and renovated a commercial kitchen to meet all standards,” says Leko.

There were many obstacles from the start. For example, they didn't have the finances to hire a big company to build an e-commerce platform, so they used the service of freelancers, which made the website time-consuming and delayed delivery of the final product.

“There was no grant program at that time to help startups to develop. High-risk loans for start-up businesses were not allowed at all,” Leko recalls, noting that they used part of their mortgage loan for their business instead of home repair.

The wrong business model

In 2016, appeared on the Georgian market. The platform offered lunch services and home delivery. About 10 couriers served the company, on bikes the founders bought themselves. Leko says they preferred to hire their own couriers rather than hiring a courier service so as to keep better control. “And that was one of our big mistakes. Any logistics-related issue further complicated daily operations.”

In the working process, it became clear that the couple was leading not one, but two very difficult business processes: the first was a commercial direction and the second was a courier service.

“Compared to 2016, today the number of courier services has increased and developed. At the time, even finding someone who knew how to ride a moped was difficult,” recalls Marita. “Even if we found one, they were then difficult to manage.”

For example, in rainy weather, when the number of orders significantly increased, the entrepreneurs would often get calls from staff in the morning claiming illness. The couple made a mistake by putting delivering ordered lunches into the business model. Initially, created standard lunch menus. The demand was great. However, the highest demand was at about two o'clock in the afternoon. Accordingly, both the cooks and the couriers had to work to time pressure. There were two types of problem here: timing and financial.

In the first case, deliveries were often delayed because cooks and couriers had to work under pressure within a short period of time.

“Restaurants and cafes have the advantage where customers can see the rush hour queue at the eatery and decide themselves whether to wait or go elsewhere. In our case, the queue was invisible to customers. One has to wait 30 minutes and the order is delayed for an unknown reason. You don’t see the reason and aren’t even interested why it is happening: You just get angry,” says Leko.

The second problem was financial. Although the most active period was the first half of the day, the couple had to hire cooks for full-days as it was impossible to hire a professional cook for just two hours. In addition, it required a large number of cooks and couriers to prepare and deliver large quantities in a small amount of time. These factors significantly increased the wage bill.

The unexpected expenses didn't end there. When the idea of was born, Marita and Leko agreed that the food they produced would be of the highest quality.

“We have the best suppliers,” says Marita. And despite the high price of high quality products, the entrepreneurs wanted their menu to be accessible. When it came to value, the couple calculated everything. “Take, for example, spaghetti 'Carbonara'. Its market price is 17 GEL on average. When calculating the price of food, it turned out that the value of the ingredients did not exceed 7-8 GEL. We thought that 17 GEL was expensive and that we’d able to sell it for 12 GEL, however, while working, we found a lot of hidden costs, such as expenses in the kitchen.”

A new business model

When the couple faced so many problems, they realized that urgent action was needed. They canceled their lunch delivery service and fully replaced it with a delivery service of healthy dishes.

“Lunch menus took away all our resources - both emotional and financial. It was a difficult decision, but all startups have a stage in life when you have to admit that something has gone wrong and you have to move in another direction. We stopped serving lunch and concentrated on diets,” says Marita.

Replacing lunch menus has brought some benefits. As the healthy menu is a pre-planned product, the company can send a ration for each subsequent day the previous evening. This factor has significantly reduced the number of employees, hence the budget needed for salaries. Three out of six couriers and only five out of ten cooks continued to work. The courier service has also improved. In addition, customers were no longer in a hurry to receive their meal.


The price of a one-week diet starts from GEL 199, and those who can't decide which 7-day menu they want can try the various options of with a one-time subscription and order for 30 GEL per day. It is also possible to subscribe to a 5-day diet if the customer is out of town on the weekends or just wants to have so-called cheat days and eat whatever they want


However, the transition to dietary menus brought its own problems. It was difficult to find chefs who could prepare low-fat or sugar-free but still delicious meals. “You should know how to fry an egg without pouring oil in the pan, or how to make a sauce base without the use of flour and butter. We researched numerous materials online and discovered everything about healthy eating. We also started working with endocrinologists and dieticians,” recalls Marita.

The variety of ’s dietary menus count the Dukan Diet Menu, Express Menu, Fitness Menu, Vegetarian / Vegan Diet, Mothers’ Diet, and Premium Diet.

For those who want to lose weight and more

Healthy eating means eating a balanced meal four times a day in small portions. With the calculator available on the website, you can find out how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight, and then select your desired menu. The nutritional value of each varies from 1200 to 1800 calories.

The variety of diets suits almost every type of consumer. For example, if you aim to lose a lot of weight, you can choose the Dukan Diet, the results of which you’ll see even in the first week. It encourages people to continue their diet and move to well-balanced eating by offering four days filled with protein, then vegetables added daily.

Another direction is Paleo. “Paleo is based on the idea that humans need only the foods that our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic era, that is, meat, vegetables and fruits. However, we made a small modification to this direction and added a very small amount of cereal to the menu, because nowadays this type of food is very important for the body," says Marita.

When ordering a vegetarian diet, consumers get vegetables, nuts, milk products and eggs, everything except meat. A full vegan diet is a menu that no longer includes milk products and eggs. This diet is often used during the fasting period.

The price of a one-week diet starts from GEL 199, and those who can't decide which 7-day menu they want can try the various options of with a one-time subscription and order for 30 GEL per day. It is also possible to subscribe to a 5-day diet if the customer is out of town on the weekends or just wants to have so-called cheat days and eat whatever they want.

“In total, there are 5,000 unique users on the site. There are those who subscribe to our menu from the first day and those who order different types of diets every week. Of course, there are also those who ordered once and then never returned,” says Leko.

Since its establishment, has been keeping a close eye on its customer satisfaction index. First, it aims to consider the interests of unsatisfied customers. According to Leko, “customers don't care who you are or how you got where you are. Even if we are confident that we are delivering the perfect dish, if a customer does not like it, we return the money unconditionally. We believe that if you have a long-term business plan, you have to listen to your customers." has no competitors in the Georgian market at this stage. Although several new companies have tried to create similar products and many cafes have developed dietary delivery services, it is difficult for Marita and Leko to name a direct competitor. After overcoming their mistakes and beating the difficult times, has been in existence for two years and is constantly looking for new ways to develop.

First published in Georgian in Entrepreneur Georgia magazine.


27 January 2020 18:49