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In Jakarta, DishServe's cloud kitchens operate as home businesses

Ghost or virtual kitchens are becoming a key element of the food delivery business. Without storefronts or front-of-house staff, costs are low and they can be strategically located for fast deliveries. An Indonesian start-up has embraced the trend, but with a twist: it uses home kitchens instead of commercial spaces.

DishServe, which launched late 2020, currently works with around 100 home kitchens in Jakarta. When a potential partner signs up, their kitchen is surveyed. If it passes muster, they're provided with a freezer, microwave and food packaging. After being trained by DishServe, partners — often stay-at-home moms — start off preparing dishes from the company's own menu. Once they've successfully completed that trial, they're allowed to work for up to three other F&B brands, who provide ingredients and instructions.

Trend Bite

DishServe and other cloud/ghost kitchen concepts capitalize on the rising popularity of delivery, which skyrocketed during the pandemic. Last year, Euromonitor predicted that ghost kitchens could be a USD 1 trillion market by 2030. That seems like a stretch, given the total online food delivery market is estimated to grow to USD 126.91 billion in 2021, but there's little doubt that out-of-sight food prep will continue to expand.

Innovation of the day

Food prep for DishServe's network is all about assembly and heating, not cooking from scratch, which makes the concept suitable for most home entrepreneurs as long as their kitchen is clean. In addition to an initial in-home survey, hygiene is regularly checked by asking partners to submit photos of their kitchen.

DishServe allows smaller food brands to increase their delivery range and volume without opening new locations, while providing a zero-investment business opportunity for people who need or want to work from home. As reported by TechCrunch, 90% of the company's partners are women between the ages of 30 and 55, typically earning USD 600 per month through DishServe, which is twice the minimum wage in Jakarta.

Working from home — which has become so familiar for white collar workers — has mostly been out of reach for those in the food industry. While local regulations might be a barrier to DishServe in other countries, the notion of using homes as micro-hubs in delivery networks is worth exploring. Just be sure to treat and pay those semi-entrepreneurs fairly!