Download App

The meat category suffers due to India's cultural hypocrisy: Licious co-founder

Sep 27, 2022 / 09:52 AM IST

The firm faced a storm of resistance from VCs, or 'vegetarian capitalists,’ as the founders called them. Licious co-founder Abhay Hanjura says that meat continues to be carried surreptitiously in black plastic bags, like sanitary pads, condoms, and alcohol, even though a majority of Indians consume meat.

It's a story that Licious co-founder Abhay Hanjura loves to retell, and it leaves you shocked and amazed in equal parts. Because, while being rejected by investors is commonplace for startup founders, can you be rejected because of their dietary preferences?

Back in the day, when Licious wasn't the feted online meat delivery unicorn that it is today, it faced a storm of resistance from venture capitalists (VC), so much so that founders Hanjura and Vivek Gupta came up with their own monikers for VCs, dubbing them 'vegetarian capitalists.’ Most investors that Hanjura and Gupta met were not consumers of the category, and ended up projecting their biases on them.

While one suggested they make paneer instead of meat, a second asked them to show a similar model that worked in the US or China. A third backed out as one of the fund's backers was a large Gujarati family that did not want to invest in the sector.

"Meat continues to languish in the kali thaili (black plastic bag) with sanitary pads, condoms, and alcohol. It's the fourth stepchild. Cultural hypocrisy was the greatest impediment," Hanjura said, recounting the stiff resistance even though a majority of Indians consume some form of meat.

Watch | Inside Licious: Here's How The Fresh Meat Is Delivered

Founded in 2015, Licious delivers fresh meat and seafood, apart from ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products, categories in which it has been witnessing huge traction of late. Licious will double down on these categories, with plans to launch offline stores and expand in smaller cities. It also wants to change the perception about the way the category operates, on the back of automation and technology.