Bento Picks Up $1.5 Million To Bring On-Demand Pan-Asian Cuisine To San Francisco

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As if we weren’t full enough, there’s another a new on-demand food delivery service in San Francisco called Bento. Forget all those Postmates burritos and DoorDash deep-dish pizzas, the focus for Bento is on delivering Asian food.

Co-founder Jason Demant told TechCrunch he’s been obsessed with the cuisine since he was a kid. “Growing up my parents literally made fun of me for how much Asian food I ate,” he said.

It’s also one of the fastest-growing ethnic food segments. Global sales in Asian fast food have gone up by 482 percent since 1999, according to Euromonitor.

Part of that is the simple fact that Asian people make up about half of the world’s population, and they happen to like Asian food, but there’s also been a lot of growth in Asian food chains in the U.S. over the past 15 years.

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Bento founders from left to right: Jason Demant, Mattin Noblia, Vincent Cardillo.

That bodes well for Bento, despite the crowded on-demand food market. The startup just raised $1.5 million in seed money for the idea.

Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH Fund led the round, with participation from Slow Ventures, 500 Startups Mobile Collective fund, FundersClub and some angel investors.

Bento customers go through the typical process of ordering found on most other on-demand apps, but instead of picking from various restaurants, they have the option of choosing from a menu of meals. Customers can also customize their meal by choosing from one of three main dishes – two hot, one cold – and then selecting any combination of six side dishes as well. They can also specify a preference for low-carb or gluten-free during the ordering process, depending on their diet requirements.

We don’t want to be just another generic delivery startup.
— Bento co-founder Jason Demant
There are over 400 combinations of choices on Bento, according to Demant. Though there aren’t currently any vegetarian options, customers can specify a preference for low-carb or gluten-free during the ordering process, depending on their diet requirements.

The one thing that is a bit of a hesitation for me is that Bento only delivers curb-side. The delivery driver calls you from a truck outside, and the customers must then go out and get it. I’d personally rather they came up to my apartment door or the TechCrunch office instead of going out.

The reason for that is to make delivery quicker, according to Demant. But he’s open to experimenting with other ideas to make the process more convenient in the future.

“We don’t want to be just another generic delivery startup. The amount of money and resources we are putting into keeping our food hot and tasting like it just came out of our kitchen — it’s nothing trivial,” said Demant.

Bento has been out for about three months now and told me it sees about 15 percent growth week-over-week so far. The startup just delivers in San Francisco for now but plans to take the service to the East Bay next.