The recently launched MyChef app aims to shake up the online food delivery industry in South Africa with a clear focus on supporting smaller local restaurants.
MyChef – which was developed by TSN-Mzimba and founded by Donald Chauke and Itumeleng Mzimba – aims to make online-based food delivery more sustainable for local restaurants.
The company told MyBroadband it wanted to become the largest online marketplace for food from local and independently-owned restaurants in South Africa.
“We are for local coffee shops and hidden gems – the lady who makes the best novelty cakes, the freshest pastries made by the tannie down the road, and every other local hotspot in your neighbourhood.”
Chauke previously worked at the popular The Whippet coffee shop in Linden, Johannesburg, while Mzimba brings his experience in digital transformation to the table.
The app was conceptualised and developed during the early stages of the lockdown, with the entire process facilitated through online briefings, meetings, and brainstorming sessions.
“The MyChef food app is self-funded by the two founders out of life savings, part-time jobs, and contributions from friends and family,” MyChef told MyBroadband.
It is now live in a number of suburbs in Johannesburg where it offers online food ordering and delivery via mobile and desktop.
MyChef told MyBroadband that there was a fundamental difference between the MyChef app and big players like Uber Eats and Mr D Food, which dominate fast food deliveries in South Africa.
These platforms already allow customers to order from a wide range of restaurants, which includes smaller outlets.
MyChef acknowledged that the presence of local eateries on these online marketplaces added to their brand power.
However, being placed on the same platform which offers popular products from well-known franchises like McDonald’s, KFC, and Nando’s diluted that impact.
“Even during the lockdown when we noticed strong support from customers, many defaulted to ordering from KFC or McDonald’s due to brand power,” MyChef said.
To offer a more cost-effective option to smaller players, MyChef said it charged its partner restaurants a 15.5% commission fee for placement on the app.
By comparison, UberEats and Mr D Food charge up to 30% commission which small South African restaurants have complained makes it difficult to remain profitable.
In addition, they said it has forced them to introduce mark-ups on the prices on their menus.
MyChef said working with the owners of local and independently owned restaurants was key to their approach.
“This helps gives us a full understanding of their business needs, operations, their customers, and how to tailor our services for each business,” MyChef stated.
In this regard, it said it has benefited from the insights of Tom Savage at Bun’s Out Burgers, which was recently named as one of the best burger restauarants in the world.
“They were the first restaurant to be featured on the app and they have been very patient with us,” MyChef said.
Locations and pricing
The MyChef service is not currently offered as a native app on any platform, but instead functions as a progressive web-based app (PWA).
This means it can be accessed through an Internet browser on most desktop or mobile devices, regardless of operating system.
While there is an app available on the Google Play Store, this will simply link to the URL of the PWA.
For those who want to try MyChef out, it is now live in the following areas of Johannesburg:
Customers are charged a R20 delivery fee for addresses which are within 5km of the restaurant, with an additional R3.50 per km for those further away. A service fee of R9.50 also applies.
The app will be expanding to Cape Town, Pretoria, and Soweto in the first half of 2021.
We decided to take a look at the MyChef app’s design and features to see how these stacked up to Uber Eats and Mr D Food.
Tapping the downloaded Google Play Store app on our smartphone directed us to the app.mychefapp.co.za link, which is the address being used for MyChef’s PWA.
The interface we were presented with was simple and easy to navigate.
It provided a search bar for restaurants, as well as tabs for access to sections such as “Alerts”, “Cart”, and “Account”.
We found 10 restaurants which were available to order from for delivery or pickup from our testing location in Linden, although only three of these were online at the time of our test.
Popular options included Bun’s Out Burgers, The Dark Kitchen Pizza, and Tanduree.
Accompanying each restaurant was a rating, estimated delivery time, and approximate cost for an order of two people.
Each of the restaurants we considered offered a wide selection of items.
Selecting an item from a restaurant menu allowed us to customise it by adding or removing certain ingredients, similar to how Uber Eats and Mr D Food worked.
A Classic Burger from Bun’s Out Linden was priced at R120, with delivery charged at R20 and an additional R9.50 service fee for a total of R149.50.
At the time of publication, there was also a promotion available for free delivery on orders over R150.
Opting for pick-up eliminated the delivery fee of R20 while still including the service fee of R9.50 for a total price of R129.50.
Before we could place an order we were required to create a profile by registering a name, email address, phone number, and selecting a password. This process took less than a minute.
Delivery times and tracking
There was a live chat feature on which we sent a query, which was replied to within three minutes of sending.
Chauke told MyBroadband that orders can be tracked on a live interactive map, while the app also sent push notifications to the user with updates on the status of their order.
“The average order takes 45-60 minutes to deliver, however, this is entirely dependent on how long the restaurants take to prepare the food,” he stated.
“It is also worthwhile to mention that the restaurants we have on the app freshly prepare meals and do not operate as Quick Service Restaurants (QSR),” Chauke added.
The image below shows screenshots of the overall interface of the MyChef app.