Who needs web apps and crazy things like Twitter when you can invest in an online ordering system for fast food outlets? That’s what’s just happened to Just-Eat, possibly the leading European aggregator site for ordering fast food online. It’s closed its first institutional financing, with Index Ventures leading the large £10.5 million round. Venrex Investment Management and existing shareholders also participated. The capital will be used to consolidate the company’s position in the UK and to expand into Europe. It appears they are going up against local boostrapped startup HungryHouse. However they haven’t reach me yet and I’m online all the time. I’ve never used Just-Eat to order from my local pizza place, I just pick up the leaflets regularly shoved through my letterbox – but I guess maybe I will soon?
As the name suggests Just Eat provides a way to order takeaway food online from you neighborhood restaurant without them having to build a system themselves that can take credit or debit cards – or take orders over the phone. In these tiny businesses, it’s faster to print out an order than it is to release staff to take phone calls. With this system the restaurants can reach and market to a much wider audience online. An interesting differentiator is that they put a terminal in every restaurant that they work with so they can communicate with the restaurant directly, ensure that orders are received, know when they’re sent out, and identify any problems instantly.
Consumers get a confirmation that their order has been received and the estimated delivery time. And they can rate the places. Currently there are over 6,000 restaurants in the Just-Eat network, with close to 3,000 in the UK.
The home delivery market is growing at 9% per year and is growing in the recession as people go out less. Founded in Denmark in 2001 the service is currently available in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Sweden and will soon also be available in Norway.
Wouldn’t this make sense as an iPhone app maybe?
Although they are quite different businesses, Just-Eat’s cash injection has some implications for sites like Yelp and Qype in Europe because JE allows users to rate outlets as well as order – although the community aspect is pretty limited.