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Online catering order service will use seed funding to expand client base
Online catering middleman ezCater announced Wednesday it had raised a $630K seed round. Somewhat of a Frankenstein’s monster of Airbnb, GrubHub, and Yelp, ezCater provides reviews, ratings, and menus to help connect customers to local caterers.
The round had no definitive leader but investors included Jill Preotle, Director and early investor at ZipCar and TaskRabbit; Spinnaker Trust; Mike Masterson, co-founder and Director at Oak/Kleiner-backed Sundrop Fuels; Ed Belove, former VP of R&D at Lotus and at AT&T; and members of Walnut Venture Associates.
The Boston, MA-based start-up, co-founded in 2009 by entrepreneurs Stefania Nappi Mallett, CEO, and Briscoe Rodgers, President, will use the money to ramp up sales and marketing to expand its customer base.
“We’ve got a biggest focus on expanding our client base,” Mallet said in an interview with Vator News. “We’re growing at a spectacular clip on the client side and we want to keep that up.”
Current clients include corporate giants such as the Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Subway, and Pappa John’s. When asked if part of ezCater’s client expansion would be adding smaller businesses, Mallet said this was absolutely part of the plan.
“We continue to add caterers literally every day,” Mallet said.
Since exiting its private beta two months ago, the number of caterers who have elected to receive orders from ezCater has doubled from 800 to 1,600. The start-up will also expand its staff with the funding from its current state of under 20 employees.
ezCater lists over 45,000 caterers in 49 states, and provides full menus and online ordering for 1,600 caterers and restaurants. The online company specializes in selling delivered food for corporate events and private parties of roughly 10 to 150 guests.
Mallet said ezCater’s strength is that it is currently the only service focused on catering orders and reviews on the national level.
“There’s a niche here that we have entirely to ourselves,” Mallet said. “We think we’re the only people who are focused on catering at national level.”
And she may be right.
ZeroCater would be considered competition, but they’re not national. GrubHub has delivery services, but many vendors wouldn’t be able to accommodate 100 plus guests with only a day or two’s notice.
Another perk ezCater offers is that it is completely free for customers. Though this would not be surprising for a company offering these services to individuals, when considering ezCater targets customers like corporate entities, or those willing to shell out for large private parties, a user fee wouldn’t seem out of the question.
Instead, ezCater is supported by commissions paid by caterers who elect to receive orders through the company. Mallet had no comment on what percent of the order this commission is.
But with their business plan firmly in place and a round of funding in their pocket, ezCater is ready to take off.
“It takes a while to figure our your story,” Mallet said. “We can tackle a very big market with what we’ve done here.”
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