Researching for an interview with FreshtoHome CEO and Co-Founder Shahnawaz Kadavil is a bit like preparing for a story on actor Shah Rukh Khan. What does one ask someone when nearly every aspect of their professional success has been covered by the media? So, we talked about fishing, a childhood interest.
Kadavil, the 45-year-old chief operating officer and co-founder of the Bengaluru-based omnichannel grocery platform FreshToHome, frequently goes line fishing for tuna: “The bigger, the tastier.” Fat content, he says, determines the flavour. He takes off on a boat with fishermen, about 13 nautical miles into the Arabian Sea. To understand the waters, his companions study the stars.
FreshToHome sources catch from about 3,000 fishermen across 300 harbours in coastal Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and other states. While fish is central to their business, poultry, mutton play a significant role too.
Kadavil, a software engineer, was drawn to this field when his personal supply of fresh fish was threatened by the closure of the Kerala-based Sea To Home, the e-commerce platform he would source from. He convinced Sea To Home’s founder Mathew Joseph to let him act as their angel investor.
In 2014, Kadavil, Joseph and six others started Fresh To Home with an initial capital of ₹8-10 crore, pooling in their money. While Kadavil is the CEO, Joseph is the chief operating officer. B.M. Tambakad is the chief financial officer, Jayesh Jose is the chief technical officer, Nilkamal Malakar, the chief data officer and Jaleel P.A., the chief revenue officer. Suresh Parameshwaran and Firoz Vellekat are part of the senior leadership team.
“All of us have worked with each other for over 20 years and are known devils to each other,” says Kadavil.
FreshToHome started with eight employees in 2015; that number has grown to 5,000 today. From servicing Kochi and Bengaluru in 2015, they are now in 160 cities. In 2017, the company added poultry and mutton to its product offering. In 2019, the product basket got bigger with the inclusion of vegetables and dairy, and they launched a separate app called FTHDaily. In the same year, FreshToHome expanded overseas to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And in 2021, they ventured into omnichannel by opening five stores in Bengaluru, which has now grown to 30; they have 45 stores across the country.
Shan Kadavil, CEO and Co-Founder, FreshtoHome