Locale puts $2M to work helping people discover local cuisine

When you move around a city, you often end up farther away from some of your favorite restaurants and bakeries. Locale wants to keep you connected to the food you love, even if you live hours away now.

Locale, based in San Francisco, enables customers to order from dozens of businesses, including bakeries and restaurants, and get them delivered in one box for just a $5 delivery fee.

In addition to San Francisco, the company will begin operating in Los Angeles in November. To keep up the pace, Locale secured a $2 million seed round led by Decent Capital, the family office of Tencent co-founder Jason Zeng. Other investors include Goodwater Capital and Esas Ventures.

High school friends Jonathan Friedland and Chris Clark started Locale in 2020 and bootstrapped its way to hundreds of customers, and while being a part of Y Combinator’s three-month program, grew revenue by 100% year over year, Friedland said.

“We saw the crazy lines outside of popular bakeries, but when the pandemic hit, it wasn’t something you could do,” Friedland told TechCrunch. “We wondered why they weren’t on DoorDash, and the reason was two-fold: a bakery has to plan production days ahead of time, and every delivery sales takes away from retail customers. If a loaf of bread is $7, but you pay $15 for delivery, it doesn’t work for small-ticket items.”

Instead, their idea was to bundle businesses together and operate on a weekly model, so all of the bakeries and restaurants have one big order by Thursday for Saturday delivery rather than a bunch of separate orders. Locale employs hundreds of delivery contractors who don’t have to wait around for the food to be made, but go to Locale’s facility and pick up the deliveries that are on their route.

Their customers include more than 80 bakeries, restaurants and farms, enabling them to not only receive orders days ahead for better planning, but to expand their business’ delivery range to more than 100 miles, catering to loyal customers and reaching new customers.

Decent Capital’s Keyan Li, investment director, and Carley Phillips, investment analyst, told TechCrunch that the pandemic hit the restaurant industry, but as it moves to digitalization, both online and offline, Locale is providing a way for restaurants to find people.

“It is both an exciting and incremental market,” Li said. “People’s buying behaviors will stay, and they will do both food delivery online and also go into the shop. Locale is good for people who have left the metros, but still miss the city life and want to order something from their favorite place.”

And, Locale also gives smaller businesses a more even footing as large chain restaurants that already had similar infrastructure in place, Phillips said. She sees the trends going forward being more of a hybrid model of convenience and a seamless ordering experience as people move but still want to support local businesses.

The new capital comes as Locale expands farther into San Francisco and Marin County this month and adds a new “locale” in Los Angeles in November. The company broke even in its first 10 months of operation, doubled its revenue in the past three months and is already delivering more than 2,500 orders per month with an average order value of more than $105, Friedland said.

“We will continue to perfect the product, and as we expand, be able to deliver something that is just as top-notch a year down the line when we are in multiple locations,” he added.