This morning MealMe.ai, a food search engine, introduced that it has closed a $900,000 pre-seed spherical. Palm Drive Capital led the spherical, with participation from Slow Ventures and CP Ventures.
TechCrunch first grew to become accustomed to MealMe when it introduced as a part of the Techstars Atlanta demo day final October, mentioning it in a roundup of favourite startups from a bunch of the accelerator’s startup cohorts.
The firm’s product permits customers to search for food, or a restaurant. It then shows worth factors from numerous food-delivery apps for what the person needs to eat and have delivered. And, notably, MealMe permits for in-app checkout, whatever the chosen supplier.
The service may increase pricing and delivery-speed transparency amongst the completely different apps that assist of us eat, like DoorDash and Uber Eats. But Mealme didn’t begin out trying to construct a search engine. Instead it took a number of modifications in path to get there.
From social community to search engine
MealMe is an instance of a startup whose first thought proved solely directionally appropriate. The firm started life as a food-focused social community, co-founder Matthew Bouchner informed TechCrunch. That iteration of the service allowed customers to view posted food footage, after which discover ordering choices for what they noticed.
While nonetheless working as a social community, MealMe utilized to each Y Combinator and Techstars, however wasn’t accepted at both.
The startup found that a few of its customers had been posting food pics merely to get the service to inform them which supply providers would be capable of carry them what they wished. From that studying the corporate centered on constructing a food search engine, permitting customers to search for eating places, after which vet numerous supply choices and costs. That iteration of the product acquired the corporate into Techstars Atlanta, ultimately resulting in the demo day that TechCrunch reviewed.
During its time in Techstars, the corporate adjusted its mannequin to not merely hyperlink to DoorDash and others, however to deal with checkout within its personal utility. This captures extra gross merchandize worth (GMV) within MealMe, Bouchner defined in an interview. The functionality was rolled out in September of 2020.
Since then the corporate has seen fast development, which it measures at round 20% week-on-week. During TechCrunch’s interview with MealMe, the corporate mentioned that it had reached a GMV run fee of greater than $500,000, and was scaling towards the $1 million mark. In the intervening weeks the corporate handed the $1 million GMV run-rate threshold.
MealMe was barely coy on its enterprise mannequin, nevertheless it seems to make margin between what it costs customers for orders and the whole income it passes alongside to food supply apps.
TechCrunch was interested by platform threat at MealMe; may the corporate get away with providing worth comparability and ordering throughout a number of third-party supply providers with out elevating the ire of the businesses behind these apps? At the time of our interview, Bouchner mentioned that his firm had not seen pushback from the providers it sends customers to. His firm’s purpose is to develop rapidly, turn out to be a helpful income supply for the DoorDashes of the world, after which attain out for a few of formal settlement, he defined.
“We continue to be a powerful revenue generator and drive thousands of orders to food delivery services per week,” the co-founder mentioned in a written assertion. Certainly MealMe discovered traders extra excited by its development than involved about Uber Eats or different apps chopping the startup off from their service.
What first caught my eye about MealMe was the conclusion of how a lot I’d have used it in my early 20s. Perhaps the corporate can discover sufficient customers like my youthful self to assist it scale to enough dimension that it will probably go to the key food ordering corporations and demand a minimize, not merely keep away from being minimize off.