We meet with a lot of founders that have pass through the office that are in the food deliver or food on-demand space. Before we even get to a white-boarding session about how this business might possibly be a $100M USD/year business, we assess the “comps”—in real estate, comps are comparable addresses; “comps” might also be construed as startups that might be in similar spaces that post a threat or are in a competitive position to your startup.
During a recent white-boarding sesh we asked the BPO staff to crawl Crunchbase, Angel.co and the like. Here was the shortlist (click on the startup’s name/link to view its Crunchbase profile):
- Total Equity Funding: $193.8M in 5 Rounds from 16 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $135M Series D on June 9, 2015
- Headquarters: New York, New York
- Description: Blue Apron is a grocery delivery service company that delivers a recipe and the required ingredients right to their customer's doorstep.
- Founders: Ilia Papas, Matt Salzberg, Matthew Wadiak
- Categories: Food and Beverage, E-Commerce, Delivery
- Website: http://www.blueapron.com
- Total Equity Funding $17.53M in 2 Rounds
- Most Recent Funding $12.28M Series A on May 27, 2016
- Headquarters: El Segundo, CA
- Description: Chef'd is great for anyone who enjoys cooking, wants to save time planning meals & grocery shopping.
- Founders: Kyle Ransford, Jesse Langleyasdf
- Categories: Food Delivery, Food Processing, Cooking
- Website: http://chefd.com/
- Total Equity Funding $3M in 1 Round from 12 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $3M Seed on September 25, 2015
- Headquarters: San Mateo, California
- Description: The best dishes from notable restaurants & chefs, developed for the home kitchen.
- Founders: Rob LaFave, Emily LaFave
- Categories: Restaurants
- Website: https://www.din.co/
- Total Equity Funding $11.95M in 3 Rounds from 22 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $10.75M Series A on October 29, 2015
- Headquarters: Palo Alto, California
- Description: Gobble is a weekly dinner kit delivery service that helps busy people cook dinner in just 10 minutes with 1 pan.
- Founders: Ooshma Garg
- Categories: E-Commerce, Delivery, Food Processing, Cooking, Hospitality
- Website: http://gobble.com
- Total Equity Funding $275.5M in 5 Rounds from 7 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $85M Series F on September 17, 2015
- Headquarters: Berlin, Berlin
- Description: HelloFresh is a food subscription company that sends pre-portioned ingredients to users’ doorstep each week.
- Founders: Thomas Griesel, Dominik Richter
- Categories: Subscription Service, Consumer, Food Delivery, Cooking
- Website: http://www.hellofreshgroup.com
- Total Equity Funding $17M in 5 Rounds from 7 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $10M Series A on April 30, 2016
- Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
- Description: Fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service.
- Founders: Bryon Finke, Pat Vihtelic
- Categories: Food and Beverage, Restaurants, Delivery
- Website: https://www.homechef.com
- Total Equity Funding $120.42M in 6 Rounds from 21 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $85M Series C on May 22, 2015
- Headquarters: San Francisco, California
- Description: Munchery offers same-day food deliver services.
- Founders: Tri Tran, Conrad Chu, Van Tran
- Categories: Food and Beverage, Consumer, Same Day Delivery, Hospitality
- Website: http://munchery.com
- Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia
- Description: PeachDish is a farm to table mealkit delivery service.
- Founders: Hadi Irvani
- Categories: E-Commerce
- Website: http://www.PeachDish.com
- Total Equity Funding $56.4M in 8 Rounds from 17 Investors
- Most Recent Funding $35M Series B on July 16, 2015
- Headquarters: New York, New York
- Description: Plated home-delivers 30-minute gourmet recipes and ingredients.
- Founders: Nick Taranto, Josh Hix
- Categories: E-Commerce, Social Media Management, Cooking, Hospitality
- Website: http://plated.com
We took note of everything, from location of headquarters; markets they served of course; we tried to deduce and reverse engineer their apparent go-to-market strategy based on founder interviews at, say, This Week in Startups and in news media articles, as well as announcements via their own sites. We compared these marketing strategies to the startups’ own strategies that were in the office that day. We even compared logos and the application and consequences of going with certain logos versus others:
- How easy it would be to stamp a food kit delivered to the house with a logo (practicality of a logo).
- How memorable the logo was; the cultural implications of certain signals and symbolisms of certain shapes and colors.
- The size of logos and placement of logos on packaging—or even on the site itself and in MailChimp newsletters.
Of course, we got into the financials. Given certain rounds of financing, how far along are these startups? Are they “lean?” Are they spending too much or too little on customer acquisition? How’re they approaching logistics? Again, we deduced this by having the BPO segment of Katalyst.ph crawl the net for interviews with founders, news media, etc.
It was also important for me to show them how the BPO group of Katalyst.ph reaches out to prospective partners and investors for startups in the Philippines. We drilled down on who invested in what, and similar to what a cap table would be, we drew up a “cap table for niches and markets,” and whipped up shoddy graphs of which investors would be more inclined to partner up or invest in their startup. For those that I was just incubating and haven’t yet invested (equity of any kind, via CN or whatever), we got into the tools of the trade at the office: Nimble, LeadIQ, etc.
“You don’t need to allocate resources among your seed-stage startup toward marketing to investors—that’s a full time job, and that’s something Katalyst.ph provides for you, as an investee. Our BPO does that for you. You’re not just a piece of stock for us, you’re family, and we go out of our way to do this for you, and to report back to you, like a startup would to its investors,” Joe said during the bull session.
So, takeaway from that sesh on the investor front: find out who would want to invest, then find a way to get in touch with them: phone, email, social media, show up at their doorstep, whatever.
Chasing down investors for capital invariably leads to a chat among my investor crew with the founders about how much of their own capital they’ve put to work. It’s not a law of thermodynamics, but it’s almost always the case that startups are an endeavor of the moneyed, especially in the Philippines. It’s a first world sport. It’s something that’s dominated by entitled Ivy League grad kids: well represented are the Harvard, Yale, and Penn alumni networks—and of course, Cal, Stanford, and corporate campuses such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.—the author of Chaos Monkeys incessantly refers to this entitlement in interviews; it’s exactly the kind of behavior that’s soaked the startup ecosystem in the Philippines—Manila, particularly.
If you’re not in a position to put any capital to work at all, if you don’t have at least one friend that could loan you some cash capital to jumpstart your idea or to get an MVP up and running, odds are very much against you—making riskier an already extremely risky proposition (compounded by an infinite number of variables: the fact that you’re in the Philippines, the fact that you likely lack the kind of exposure to business that Stanford students are exposed to even in undergrad, the fact that breaking out in an economy that’s ruled by oligarchs where respect for antitrust is close to nil—in a country that lives, as if check to check, from presidential election to presidential election.