Alot can happen over a cup of coffee. For a group of friends, running food and ordering and delivery app, Gatoes, in Srinagar, building products and solutions that redefine the food ordering and delivery space in Kashmir was a dream come true during internet clampdown.
"We believe it is only we who can bring change as far as our own people are concerned. People pay and they need the best services" says, founder, Gatoes, Jibran Gulzar, Nowshera, Srinagar. "Everyone now needs special services. Sophisticated and dignified lifestyle with facilities available and Gatoes ensures that we bring it to the doorsteps of the people," he says.
Co-founder, Mufti Murtaza of Bhagat Barzulla, Srinagar, says that change, reflects today's youth, begins at home and that is precisely why the young generation in Kashmir is making headway towards the change in old traditions and pawing ways for new start-ups to cling to life in the valley.
He says that Gatoes is a platform based on a hyperlocal on-demand food & grocery delivery business operation. "Working as a bridge between vendors and customers, Gatoes utilizes an innovative technology platform that works as a single point of contact. The app allows foodies to order food from nearby restaurants & shoppers to order from nearby stores and get it delivered at their doorsteps," Murtuza says. Another co-founder, Danish Majeed from Downtown area of Srinagar, says, while food delivery has been a convenience for people around the world for years Kashmir clung to the old tradition of going out to eat and to change this narrative in an ecosystem where people mostly are resistant to change proves a deterrent.
He says that taking place as a new ballgame to grant people the wealthy experience of food service at the doorstep in an ecosystem like Kashmir would never have been easy but Gatoes started its journey in Srinagar to offer the choicest and authentic grocery and food services to people with utter convenience.
On July 4 last year when the pandemic was at its peak, Jibran Gulzar, 24 along with Murtaza Mufti and Danish Majeed laid the first stone of Gatoes, a Kashmiri-based food, and grocery delivery startup thriving to build the next tech-aggregator unicorn.
City Manager, Gatoes, Aiman Mir, says that "Gatoes is considered to be one of the fastest-growing food and grocery delivery firms in Srinagar and the biggest startups of the Jammu and Kashmir with 900+ merchant partners."
"Every single day. We learn and unlearn. And that keeps us going with Gatoes. And yes Going with Gatoes gets better for customers. It will help us change the way Jammu and Kashmir orders and eats."
Divulging details, Jibran says that it was a plan made months before however due to the 2G internet mobile applications couldn't work becoming a barrier for online services. He says that he along with his team met several numbers of developers to make the service work on slow internet as well.
"I even met the developers of giant organizations looking for a solution but no one could help for a long time," he says.
The hard work had to pay off and thus developers agreed to take the responsibility and forged the project to work.
"See, we got to work with 2G internet and this is an accomplishment I would love to share because we worked hard on it," smiles Jibran.
While recalling the carrying out of marketing campaign Murtaza narrates how Gatoes caught the attention of many critic observers, commentators as well as admirers and supporters.
"We created commercials and tried every possible marketing strategy to connect to the people in Kashmir and we successfully got in touch with the huge mass. We have delivered 120000+ orders from the past 8 months", Jibran pronounced.
With fever employment opportunities for the youth in Kashmir, the firm has risen to employ around 200 people in the state. "We got to know many people who were facing financial crises in life, many were depressed and some were into drugs. Becoming a medium of livelihood to such people brings a wave of inner peace," says Murtaza.
Currently, 80- 90 delivery riders from Gatoes are working in Kashmir and 300-350 over other states such as Faridabad and Chandigarh. The expansion of the firm makes it the first Kashmiri startup to diversify its operations outside Kashmir.
The Gatoes team says that the firm has achieved more than expected. "We started from Srinagar, expanded it to Anantnag and then Faridabad. Without any huge advertising, people in Faridabad welcomed us," says Jibran.
"I was planning for further studies outside India but my destiny had something else written for me. Due to some issues I had to stay back home and I pondered to work on the dream project and contribute to society and the people," Jibran says.
He unfolded how dawning a career at variation is always difficult for people to get convinced within a stereotypical society and how he faced the same hindrance while trying to set a divergent work at such a young age. "There are young people who aren't privileged with family support to start a business but thankfully, I got support from my parents. I am happy to witness many people considering the startups to be the way for a better future of the state". "Kashmir is far from the global competition and escalation in the startup industry is a must," says Jibran who wants the Kashmiri startup industry to achieve a name in the global market.
"In Faridabad, they don't mention Gatoes with other giant aggregates. We are somehow successful in achieving the name". During conversation with a student from NIT, Srinagar who now lives in Delhi, he flattered remarks about the convenient services of Gatoes.
"In Delhi, we had good food services but when I shifted to Srinagar for studies I couldn't get food online even when there was a great need. At times a person feels tired and wants some good meals to be delivered home. Before Gatoes no such possibility was there. Since the foundation of Gatoes I order without any worries," he said while requesting Gatoes to start the services in Delhi as well.
While talking about the customers, Murtaza narrated the story of August 5 last year when all services in Kashmir were shut for half-day and so was Gatoes.
"People were calling us and inquiring about the closure of the app. We have customers in Srinagar with busy schedules who want food to be delivered to the doorstep. We are glad that our services have become this important to them".
Gatoes aims at providing services to unpopular areas, the areas where a business like online food delivery is not recommended by many. "People recommend not starting services in such areas but we don't see it that way. Everyone deserves a service where they can order food at a click", said Jibran who sees Gatoes more like a sincere pact with people than any business.
People from all age groups tend to use the services from Gatoes and highly appreciate the initiative. "I would like to mention it legibly that the service from Gatoes is amazing. Whatever I ordered I found nothing to complain about. They deliver fast. Whenever I am outside Kashmir I order from other food delivery apps but in Kashmir, Gatoes is the best possible option", applauds a customer. "It is the best startup for Kashmiris", says another customer who thinks there is a huge need for organizations like Gatoes in Kashmir.
Gatoes is counting the days until they expand services to other states of India especially to the South. Employing the youth is the utmost goal of the firm and they are looking forward to providing feasible employment in upcoming years. "With time we have the prospect to expand to 100+ cities and hire scores of employees. By 2025 we aim to employ around 5000 people in Kashmir as delivery persons," beamed Jibran.