How To Start A Cloud Kitchen In India?: A Guide On Setup Cost

April 17, 2024

Cloud kitchens, also known as ghost kitchens or delivery-only kitchens, are a rising trend in the Indian food industry. These are kitchens that operate without a physical dining space and cater exclusively to online food delivery platforms like Zomato and Swiggy.

The concept of cloud kitchens has gained popularity due to the increasing demand for online food delivery services, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. With the number of online food delivery users expected to reach 2.9 million by 2026, cloud kitchens present a lucrative opportunity for food entrepreneurs and restaurant owners.

Starting a cloud kitchen in India involves understanding the setup costs, which depend on factors like cuisine type, technology infrastructure, and location. It also requires navigating the complexities of the market and understanding industry trends.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the cloud kitchen ecosystem in India, including the process of setting up such a venture, assessing costs, and understanding the market.

By leveraging the convenience and efficiency of cloud kitchens, food entrepreneurs can tap into the growing online food delivery market and offer a diverse culinary experience to consumers.

Machinery & Equipment

The selection of machinery and equipment is a crucial aspect for setting up a cloud kitchen. The costs involved depend on the type of cuisine you plan to offer.

A basic setup including an Indian burner, Chinese burner, and a stainless-steel table can cost between Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 70,000. Exploring second-hand options can be a cost-saving strategy.

For specialized cuisines like pizzerias or bakeries, the cost of ovens can vary significantly, ranging from Rs. 12,000 to several lakhs, depending on size and features. Similarly, tandoors can cost anywhere from Rs. 10,000 upwards, based on dimensions and specifications.

It is advisable to create a comprehensive list of necessary equipment and research platforms like YouTube for current pricing trends and recommendations. Overall, the machinery and equipment cost for a fully-equipped cloud kitchen in India can range from 6 to 9 lakhs, which is a crucial investment for operational success.

Government Licenses

Here's a simplified breakdown of the key licenses and associated costs you'll need to consider:

FSSAI License: Essential for any food business, this certifies your kitchen's compliance with safety and hygiene standards. Including agent charges, this license can be obtained for around Rs 2,000.

Trademark Registration: Protecting your brand identity is crucial, and securing a trademark for your cloud kitchen's name or logo can cost about Rs 6,000, considering attorney fees.

Municipal Trade License: A must-have for legalizing your business operations within a specific locality, this can be acquired for Rs 1,000.

Gas Connection: For kitchens relying on gas for cooking, securing a connection along with the necessary security measures costs around Rs 5,000.

Electricity Connection: Ensuring your kitchen is powered up requires an electricity connection, with security deposits amounting to Rs 20,000.

Fire NOC: Given the nature of kitchen operations, obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department for safety compliance is priced at Rs 1,000.

Altogether, the grand total for obtaining all necessary government licenses to kickstart your cloud kitchen in India is approximately Rs 40,000.

Rent and Security Deposit

Choosing the right location for your cloud kitchen is crucial, with a focus on cost-efficiency over visibility, since cloud kitchens rely on delivery rather than dine-in customers.

In metro cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai, renting a 300-600 sq ft space can cost INR 20,000 to INR 50,000 per month, plus a security deposit of INR 1,00,000 to INR 2,00,000.

However, opting for locations like upper floors of commercial buildings or less prominent areas can lead to significant cost savings, as visibility is not a priority for cloud kitchens. In tier II or tier III cities, spaces ranging from 100-200 sq ft can be rented for INR 8,000 - INR 10,000 per month, with security deposits between INR 50,000 to INR 1,00,000.

Cloud kitchens do not require lavish decor or extensive fit-outs, further reducing costs. Starting from a home kitchen is also a viable option for those on a tight budget, but transitioning to a commercial space is recommended for business growth, considering licenses and utility setups.

When choosing a location, it's advisable to opt for a longer lease term of at least 2 to 5 years, as it provides stability and predictability, protecting against rental volatility.

Also Read: Popular Cloud Kitchen Model Business

Marketing & Media

For cloud kitchens, having a robust digital marketing strategy is essential since they rely heavily on online presence to attract customers instead of foot traffic. Budgets for digital marketing can range from INR 30,000 to INR 80,000, covering both paid and organic efforts.

It is advisable to start marketing activities even before the launch to create a buzz and capture potential customers' interest early on. Strategies like targeted social media ads, offering discounts or special launch offers in exchange for contact information, can be effective.

Pre-launch marketing serves two purposes:

  • It acts as a market test, providing insights into the demand for your cuisine/menu offerings.
  • It helps secure your first batch of customers, ensuring a bustling start and initial sales.

Having a list of eager customers ready to place orders on day one can propel your ratings on food delivery platforms, creating a virtuous cycle of visibility and demand. Personal touches like direct phone calls to remind customers of their special offer can enhance customer engagement and loyalty.

The success of a cloud kitchen depends on the quality of the ordering experience, including food excellence, value for money, timely delivery, and appealing packaging. Satisfied customers are likely to become repeat customers and vocal advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth.

Raw Materials

Procuring raw materials in an efficient and cost-effective manner is crucial for a successful cloud kitchen operation. For new entrants, it's advisable to start small and purchase raw materials for just 2-3 days' worth of business initially.

An initial budget of around Rs. 20,000 for raw materials is recommended to ensure you can handle the fluctuations in order volume and minimize waste, especially during the initial stages when sales might be unpredictable.

As you progress, maintain meticulous records of sales and expenses to refine your purchasing strategy. Using software for record-keeping can simplify this process. Keep in mind that food delivery platforms like Zomato and Swiggy pay weekly, so you'll need to plan for raw material needs before receiving those payments.

Adopt a cost-cutting mindset and negotiate with suppliers for the best deals. Even small discounts per unit can lead to substantial savings over time. Seek out savings wherever possible and instill a culture of efficiency and prudence in your cloud kitchen operations.

Packaging Materials

Packaging plays a crucial role beyond just delivering food – it serves as a powerful branding tool that shapes the overall dining experience. The initial investment for packaging materials, including containers, stickers, and custom sachets, can range from INR 40,000 to INR 60,000, varying based on quantity and quality.

Packaging acts as a silent ambassador for your brand, being the first physical interaction your customers have with your business before even tasting the food. The unboxing experience can significantly impact their overall perception, building anticipation and evoking emotions.

Well-designed packaging doesn't just secure the food; it tells a story and reinforces brand presence, similar to how brands like Domino's include free oregano and chili flakes sachets with their orders.

The aim is to achieve high brand recall, making your packaging memorable and encouraging repeat customers. Repeat customers are the cornerstone of a successful cloud kitchen, providing steady business and acting as brand advocates.

Investing in quality packaging should be viewed as building long-term value, ensuring that every order delivered not only satisfies hunger but also cements your brand's place in the minds of your customers.

Reserve Surplus

Not all businesses become profitable immediately; some may take up to three months or more to start turning a profit. The reserve surplus helps you stay operational during these initial fluctuations without the pressure of imminent financial ruin.

To calculate the reserve surplus, consider your essential operational costs, such as salaries (chef and helper), utility bills, rent, and miscellaneous expenses. A typical monthly operational cost could be around Rs. 50,000.

For a three-month period, a prudent reserve would be around Rs. 1,35,000 (Rs. 50,000 x 3 months). However, if this amount is not feasible, a slightly lower reserve of Rs. 1,00,000 might suffice, operating under the assumption that your business won't be entirely without sales for three straight months.

It's important to remember that this surplus is an emergency fund, not a constant source of operational funding. With careful planning, strategic marketing, and efficient operation, you might find that your business becomes self-sustaining much sooner than anticipated, eliminating the need to dip into your reserve funds.

Parting Notes

Starting a cloud kitchen in India requires an estimated investment of around INR 11,47,000. This investment covers various expenses such as machinery, equipment, rent, licenses, marketing, raw materials, packaging, and an initial cash reserve.

While this might seem substantial, there's a better option available. Imagine launching your cloud kitchen with a dedicated marketing team and personalized assistance, all designed to ensure a smooth operation within the same budget. 

This is entirely possible with Kouzina. 

Kouzina is a pioneering food tech company dedicated to assisting budding entrepreneurs and existing hospitality businesses in starting a franchise within the food industry. With Kouzina, you get the unique opportunity to have your own marketing team and personalized assistance for opening your cloud kitchen under the banner of your favorite franchise.

Contact us today to learn more about how Kouzina can help you launch your cloud kitchen →

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