Foodies are always looking for something new and unique to try, but so much of what we eat is dictated by the local flavor of the areas we live in. Well one startup seeking to provide new experiences to those folks is Goldbely, which aims to make interesting foods available to anyone who might want to try them. The startup, which is part of the current crop of Y Combinator companies, recently launched with a food delivery business that helps customers find unique foods from different areas of the country.
Goldbely is trying to connect its customers — which it refers to as “Food Explorers” — with interesting food such as Chicago deep-dish pizza, Philadelphia cheesesteaks, Texas barbecue, New York bagels, and Maryland crab cakes, among other treats. The idea is to ship food so that it can be enjoyed almost as if you were eating it in its native region.
So what do restaurants and vendors get out of it? They get increased distribution for their goods, and more visibility for foodies who might not have tried out their particular gourmet treats. They set their own prices for goods, which usually contain shipping, as certain types of foods require being flash-frozen and shipped on dry ice, for instance. Goldbely takes a cut of the sale, which varies based on the type of food and shipping costs.
As for what it looks for in vendors, and the food they offer: The startup has been accepting tips for new and interesting restaurants. It likes to partner with those who already have been doing their own shipping orders, but maybe not really at scale, and it tests out all foods from those restaurants before making them a part of the site. Goldbely co-founder Joe Ariel told me that the company so far has only accepted about 3 percent of vendors that it’s tested, as it’s trying to keep the bar high for freshness and quality. Also important is the uniqueness of the food, and the fact that it probably can only be found in a certain region.
So far the startup seems to be connecting with customers, who are trying out interesting, exotic, or maybe just hard-to-get gourmet foods at a rapid rate. In its first three months, Goldbely has seen order and revenue growth increase by more than 100 percent month-over-month. It’s also retaining customers at a pretty healthy clip — in the early going, 25 percent of customers who have placed an order have returned to place another.
Super Bowl Sunday was a huge draw for the startup, which said its top sellers were buffalo wings from Buffalo, deep dish pizza from Chicago, and brisket from Austin, Texas. The company expects more orders based around upcoming events — like shipments of king cakes for Mardi Gras and various candies, cakes, and other sweets for Valentine’s Day. All in all, the team expects Goldbely customers to reserve orders for special occasions, when they’re throwing a house party or having guests over.
If there’s anyone out there who can make this startup work, it’s probably Ariel. Before launching this startup, he was CEO of Delivery.com, and before that was CEO and Founder of Eats.com, which was acquired. The dude knows a bit about food, and food delivery, and has spent the last several years traveling around the country and making note of unique food experiences that should be shared with those in other regions. The team is rounded out by CTO Trevor Stow, formerly of Aol’s QLabs, and Vanessa Torrivilla and Joel Gillman, who both previously worked at Blip.