a16z, Base Partners cook up $15M in funding for Colombia cloud kitchen concept Foodology

Foodology has been whipping up its restaurant brands in cloud and virtual kitchens in Colombia and Mexico since 2019, and with a new infusion of capital, hopes to scale that across Latin America.

The Bogotá-based company closed on $15 million in Series A funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Base Partners. Existing investors Kayyak Ventures and Jaguar Ventures (now Wollef) joined in as did a group of angel investors, including Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran, Kavak CEO Carlos Garcia, Ualá CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri, former Burger King Chairman Dick Boyce and Merama CEO Sujay Tyle. Including the new funding, Foodology has raised more than $20 million.

The company was founded by CEO Daniela Izquierdo and Juan Guillermo Azuero, who met in a restaurant industry course at Harvard Business School. Izquierdo told TechCrunch that she is a big fan of cooking and wanted to mix that passion with a business.

“It is a risky industry — people go broke, restaurants are closing down and it is capital-intensive to set it up, even a small shop,” she added. “We wanted to bring in technology and data to be more efficient and be prepared for a virtual world, which behind it is food delivery. Many restaurants did not change at all to serve the delivery customer.”

Azuero added that on the customer side, food delivery is “usually just an OK experience, not a great experience” and often the food packaging is not the best. Foodology is working to change that, and they say they have built a model that enables it to rapidly scale original and third-party restaurant brands across Latin American markets within weeks and deliver meals in a way that will delight customers.

Here’s how it works: Foodology collects data on user preferences and cross-references that with nearby food options in a geographical area to manage the end-to-end creation of original dishes with delivery.

The company typically has seven to 10 brands being made in one kitchen and performs R&D on the best-sold dishes in order to create menus with its full team of chefs, Izquierdo said.

Foodology currently operates 20 kitchens in six cities across Colombia and 10 in Mexico and has 60 corporate employees and over 300 in its kitchens. In Colombia, it is taking 100,000 orders per month and just passed a milestone of 1 million orders total. Izquierdo aims to open another six kitchens, as well as use the new funding to enter the Brazilian and Peruvian markets next year.

Latin America’s food service industry was forecasted to generate $264 billion in 2020. To keep up, in addition to expanding the number of kitchens, the company will use the new funding on product development as it grows 50% month in revenue, a pace the founders see continuing as it opens more locations in Mexico and enters the new markets. Their goal is to support 500 kitchens in the future, Azuero said.

“There are tons of people looking to have virtual restaurants and brands, but very few have a model at scale in the region,” Izquierdo said. “We are by far the biggest player doing it in LatAm.”