India is one the largest exporters of fish, yet the produce that makes its way to the Indian market lacks in quality. After having several bad experiences with seafood in Pune, Krishnaji Kulkarni, Shumu Gupta and Bijal Patel started Fishvish in March 2016 to ensure that the best of seafood reaches retail customers in Pune. It is a unique startup that has decided to venture into this and bridge the gap to deliver the best produce at your doorstep.
“Initially, Bijal and I spent two years travelling around the fishing towns. We realised that there was no good fish coming into the market. It was all going in the export. It took us a lot of time to try and figure out how we can get to the suppliers. By the time the seafood comes to Pune, it is eight days old. Before that, there are multiple auctions where the exporters take away most of the seafood. After this, it gets divided amongst the local markets,” explains Gupta. Once caught, the fish are put through a freezing cycle within the first six to eight hours. They are frozen to -60 degree Celsius within five minutes. It preserves the quality and retains the moisture.
Since this is a niche market, the challenge lies in building a brand that is synonymous with quality. In December 2016, a range of mutton and chicken was introduced as well. In seafood, on offer are a variety of seafood like squid, octopus, prawns, crab, lobster, salmon and clams. All the products are thoroughly cleaned and vacuum packed in a freezer bag. Fishvish delivers across the city and in Pimpri-Chinchwad as well.
“There have been several learnings for us but the biggest challenge lies in the logistics and maintaining the cold chain. We are dealing with perishable products so we have to make sure that it doesn’t spoil; Things like maintaining the amount of dry ice and other technical stuff. We made a couple of mistakes on the way too,” says Gupta.
Most of the investment has gone in getting the butchery centres, cold storage facilities and trial centres placed in-house. Kulkarni adds that due to their past experience in IT and hospitality, they have been able to bring about corporate styled systems and draft-plans ahead of time.
He also goes on to mention that public education in frozen food is lacking, “A lot of people think that frozen food is bad but this isn’t true. Unfortunately, in shops the freezer is turned off once it’s time to shut. If a product is defrosted and frozen again then you can be sure that all quality is lost!”
As is the case with every venture, the goal is to expand further to other metropolitan cities within the next five years. Gupta elaborates, “The key focus is on seafood and the heat-n- eat items. We will ensure quality even when we expand, as the markets and standardisation is the same. There are other players getting into the act, but the market is big enough to accommodate at least five major players. The process is a bit long but once the model works in Pune, we just have to adapt it to other cities. “Pune is a very price conscious city and if it works here, then it will work anywhere.”
You can visit the website here.
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