WeWork for Restaurants?
My latest open source startup research project: The billion dollar delivery only restaurant market you’ve never heard of…
If you’re an entrepreneur you won’t be surprised that I’m constantly thinking about new business opportunities. I usually keep my research private, but I’ve decided to opensource my thinking here (my private deck is at the bottom of his post). There are scores of companies launching colocation facilities for restaurants and it got me wondering how I could leverage them. Watching how my kids use restaurant delivery apps like Postmates and UberEats got me thinking about the opportunity to launch delivery only restaurants. WeWork actually has a coworking space for food startups, but I don’t think they’re actually moving into the shared kitchen space just yet — but it turns out investors are pumping billions into the shared kitchen space despite WeWork’s reluctance to get in the game.
I started to do some research on the space and my father told me about a company called Rebel Foods: The World’s Largest Internet Restaurant Company. Rebel operates 1,600 internet restaurants — eleven brands (seen to the left), from 205 cloud kitchens, in 18 cities in India. Originally called FAASOS the idea was to provide ‘food on demand’ through a mobile app. The app generates around 18,000 downloads per month. Today the company delivers around 2M orders a month. The company has been around for almost ten years and has raised more than $250M from Sequoia, Lightbox, RTP Global, and Alteria. Rebel is also opening more than 200 shared kitchens for delivery only restaurants.
The concept of delivering several brands or concepts from a single company in a single kitchen fascinated me. It occured to me that it might be faster and cheaper to launch a group of restaurant brands by skipping the delivery piece — simply engaging the services of restaurant delivery companies already in business (UberEats, Postmates, Favor, Caviar, etc) to deliver the food. I suspect that a decade ago in India Rebel didn’t have much choice but to start their own restaurant delivery infrastructure.
Back in May Michael Moritz from Sequoia (Sequoia India invested in Rebel) sounded the alarm when Amazon invested in $575M in Deliveroo. His concern was that through its investment in the company, “Amazon is now one step away from becoming a multi-brand restaurant company — and that could mean doomsday for many dining haunts.” The company got started back in 2014 and has raised more than $1.5B from various investors including DST, General Catalyst, and Index. Deliveroo is based in London, and operates in two hundred cities in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Singapore, UAE, Hong Kong, Kuwait, and Taiwan. The food delivery company began offering Deliveroo Editions which is a concept very similar to the one I’m interested in starting here in the United States.
Deliveroo Editions hand-picks popular restaurants and chefs with unique concepts and helps them expand to new markets. So if your favorite Indian food restaurant is in Brixton and you live in Wembley (just 14 miles, but an hour by car or train) you’d be able to order it from a shared kitchen near you — the same great food delivered fast and fresh. I think this model is what is worried Mortiz the most — it is directly aimed at Rebel’s business model. They’re also opening up their cloud kitchens to restaurants who can rent a kitchen or get one for free in exchange for higher fees — their first such cloud kitchen contained 12 kitchens and opened in Paris. Several other companies have plans to launch shared kitchens including Zomato (100 shared kitchens this year), Kitchen United (400 shared kitchens), and CloudKitchens (200 shared kitchens) to name a few — by 2020 there will be more than 3,000 shared kitchens in the United States alone.
My idea for Ghost Kitchen is actually fairly simple. Rent space in a shared kitchen. License around ten brands (2–3 defunct nationals, 2–3 regional existing/defunct regionals, and 2–3 new concepts). Create a ‘greatest hits’ menu from each of the legacy restaurants and new menus for the new concepts. We then leverage ALL of the existing delivery apps for discovery (that is how customers find us) and delivery (they’ll deliver the food for us). Once the model is working we’ll expand nationally. My presentation below is a little more detailed, but most of the good info is in my head and notes. If you’re interested in getting involved just send me a message and we can discuss further. I’m in ideation and licensing mode.
Here is an interesting documentary on the shared kitchen space:
About The Author
Alexander Muse is a serial entrepreneur, author of the StartupMuse, contributor to Forbes and managing partner of Sumo. Check out his podcast on iTunes. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.