Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Home-delivered

Mai Samih finds out how a new web-based food-delivery company is providing Cairo residents with fresh homemade dishes

liv1
liv1
Al-Ahram Weekly

Dish Dino is a new food-delivery website that allows customers in Cairo to order fresh homemade food online.

According to Anas Metwali, 31, co-founder of the Dish Dino homemade food project, the idea emerged when he and his colleagues were working one day and could smell a wonderful cooked potato dish being prepared nearby.

“The smell came from a nearby building, and I thought if only I or someone else could order a potato meal like that prepared at home. I was very hungry at the time,” he recalled.

Metwali, who graduated from the Faculty of Commerce at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, worked for almost six years as a games developer for the company A15. Then he, together with his friend Sameh Gamal, came up with the idea of Dish Dino, which was developed and then launched in December 2015.

At first, Metwali began to think about the project during his leisure time, but he was unable to take any practical steps until he heard about the A15 programme that was looking for 15 ideas to turn into new products.

“I was also encouraged by my co-founder Gamal, who was even more excited than I was when I told him about the idea, and helped me develop it into its current form,” he said.

“We started to work on the idea in September, and now we have a website, www.dishdino.com, and a call centre,” Metwali added.

The Dish Dino idea passed the “0 fekra” (idea) phase, which is a competition for those who have an idea they want to develop. “It gives them support instead of the hassle they face if they are starting out on their own. It was a great chance for us to start our own project,” said Metwali.

The project was launched during the Rise Up Summit 2015, organised by the American University in Cairo in mid-December last year, which aimed to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they needed.

“We divided our work so that each of us could specialise in the work he excels in. For example, Gamal is good at business, and I am good at operating,” Metwali said. “At the same time we learn about the specialities of each other, so that if someone faces a problem or is absent we can manage his part until he comes back.
“We have a developer called Beshoy who is in charge of our website and is very good at his work. We have a call centre with three shifts, and we have signed a contract with a delivery company that has been working in the field for some time so it is very experienced. The company markets the products, and we have talented staff members like Karim Tareq and a graphic designer, Youssef, who designed the logo,” Metwali added.
Dish Dino started with kitchens in Heliopolis and Nasr City and is now planning to open kitchens in more districts of the capital. Whether it does or not will depend on the success of the first phase. So far, the company has 13 people on its kitchen staff, all of whom were already working in food preparation in different districts.
“Those who work in the kitchens are originally housewives who have a passion for cooking and cook very good food that is praised by all their friends and family,” Metwali said. “They wanted to take their cooking to a higher level.”
In many cases, the women want to make a name for themselves and be recognised through Dish Dino. The company also has chefs who have worked in hotels and who have joined Dish Dino for the same reason.
“This project helps them focus on their cooking and ingredients while we do the rest of the work for them,” he adds.
George Guindi and his wife Vicky are the owners of a kitchen that has been working in catering for 25 years. They are now working on individual meals as part of the Dish Dino project.
“My wife has a passion for cooking, and she was encouraged by friends and neighbours to start her own project in 1990. From 2000 to 2010 we were in charge of catering for private social clubs, then for a famous fast delivery company and a car company. In 2011, we registered at the Ministry of Social Solidarity as a family firm,” Guindi said.
“We rented a bigger flat to open as our current kitchen. In 2014, we started to sell individual meals for one to four people, and when Dish Dino saw our work they asked us to join them,” he added.
The Guindis have long had their own website, called Piccolino Homemade Food. They target bachelors who can’t make their own food, working mothers who have no time to cook, the elderly, and housewives organising big meals for guests.
Vicky glances at the menus that are prepared in her kitchen. “We make warak enab [vine leaves stuffed with rice], pasta and kebabs that we sell. We also cater for private parties. We prepare individual dinners composed of molokhiya or okra, rice and chicken. During the holidays, housewives ask us to cook turkey, sweet and sour rice, and cannelloni,” she explained. The kitchen staff includes Vicky, three other ladies and one male chef.
“A15 is a group of more than 15 companies that generates revenues of a $100 million a year,” said Fady Antaki, CEO of A15. “Our companies are divided into core companies that have been there for more than 10 years, like our publishers Masrawy. Then we have our start-ups, which are either companies we have started ourselves or ideas we have invested in. These include Ehgezli (Book for Me), Dish Dino, Performly, T-Pay, and Mazzika,” he added.
Antaki explained that the start-ups are dealt with in a different way as they get more support in terms of marketing, finance and human resources because they often can’t afford to have these services in-house.
“We give them shared services with the core companies through a department called Catalyst,” Antaki said.
“Our vision is to help any housewife who has cooked for her husband and children and has an extra plate and wants to sell it through our website. We will deliver this dish to anyone who is sitting at work feeling hungry and does not know what to eat,” Metwali said.
He added that the company recruits by interviewing chefs and convincing them of the validity of the idea. It helps these chefs distribute and market their dishes while providing them with additional protection. They have a minimum of four hours to prepare their food, so the food is freshly prepared and is of high quality.
“As for the client, she can choose from the website the type of food she would like to eat and order it through the site or by a mobile application we are developing, without worrying about the washing up. The food is packed in packages that are reusable and disposable as well,” Metwali said.
He sees Dish Dino as a way of serving society. “If there is a widow with two children who can cook well and wants to start a project, we can help her to do this and make it known to many people instead of her posting her idea on Facebook and ending up with two or three customers only. We want working women or men to get ready-prepared homemade food that is like the food they prepare at home or even better,” he said.
“I think that Dish Dino needs more promotion than just the Internet. There is a need for mobile messages or newspapers or even TV campaigns in the future. If the site reaches 10,000 people through advertisements and we have 1,000 customers, then it will make an enormous difference if those people then go on to tell others,” Guindi said.
“I believe that those in charge of the project are fine young people, and if everyone worked this way in Egypt it would be the best country in the world,” Vicky added.
“Next May, we are launching another “15 fekra” (ideas) competition for people with business ideas. We will pick two winners and help them start their businesses from our headquarters in Maadi,” said Antaki.

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