Gatoes initiator Jibran Gulzar is 23. He pursued a computer science degree from Chandigarh University last year and harboured hopes of following a master’s program in the blockchain. 

Though, things turned out in a different way. “Career prospects are different for people here. While growing up, we’re told that our lives are limited. You have to become responsible even before you can,” he says.

Jibran belongs to Jammu and Kashmir — a state beset by political uncertainty, unfavourable climatic conditions, low technological acceptance, high unemployment, and sometimes, even zero connectivity. 

Jibran and his team at Gatoes have coped to build a food tech startup that alleges to have become the first internet business in J&K to cross $1 million GMV (in May). All this, while being bootstrapped and backed only by friends and family. 

“We are creating demand for hyperlocal platforms. We have pushed ourselves into the system and introduced Kashmiri society to the concept of food delivery. When Zomato and Swiggy launch here, it’ll be hard for them,” says the founder.

What all Gatoes offers to us

Gatoes is principally an app-based food distribution platform. It has joined hands with over 2,000 local restaurants in seven districts in the state.

It is providing about 1,000 orders per day and the average order value stands at Rs 450, which is “higher than you see in Delhi”, Jibran says. 

SOURCE: yourstory

In June, Gatoes also included a B2B grocery delivery vertical for restaurant partners, merchants, and other wholesale buyers. Since there aren’t too many grocery retailers in Srinagar, people generally take long bus/car rides to shop for necessities. Gatoes wants to solve this need disparity. 

To allow additional bulk items for vendors (who in turn can sell to end customers), Gatoes has entered tactical collaborations with BharatX, Razorpay, and Paytm to provide EMIs and other variable expense options for groceries. 

Funding challenges and future roadmap 

Nothing Like the rest of India that is flush with enterprise investment right now, the financing landscape in Kashmir is bleak. Jibran explains why. 

He says, “Investors are sceptical about investing in Kashmiri startups because they don’t know where their money will go. It is very difficult to run a business here. Kashmir is unstable not just politically but also weather-wise, which makes the last mile a challenge. Then there is the labour crisis. You can’t get staff from outside to build a team here.”

Gatoes runs in an online food delivery market that is ready to grow to $8 billion by 2022, according to a BCG-Google report. The sector is one of the quickest growing and among the highest funded this year. Add to that, Zomato’s successful IPO has generated an overall positive sentiment about food tech in India. 

Jibran sums up the opportunity by saying, “We have many disadvantages to look at. But we are ready. As the youth of Kashmir, we have a huge responsibility towards our people. And we are trying to change the trend.”

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