The food tech industry is effectively now going into fast food. Sweetgreen in the U.S. is a "fast-casual" restaurant chain that serves healthy “bowl food”. It’s raised $478.6 million. A similar firm is Sweetfin. Both employ a lot of tech in their back-end to improve efficiencies.
Into this area has come European startup Poke House, which is effectively industrializing the production of “poke bowls” for food delivery platforms. Poke House specializes in bowl food that often includes marinated fish that's cubed and layered up with sticky rice, pickles, noodles, etc.
The company has now raised €20 million ($24 million) in a Series B funding round led by Eulero Capital, with the backing of FG2 Capital and reinvestment from Milan Investment Partners SGR. It uses tech and data to optimize the production and delivery of its product via all the major food delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, etc. The Italy-born food tech startup claims to have built a "€100M+ company" inside two years.
Founded by Matteo Pichi and Vittoria Zanetti, Poke House has opened 30+ stores in Italy, Portugal and Spain, and now has 400 employees. It’s claiming an expected turnover of more than €40 million in 2021.
With the funding, the startup will start opening new stores in existing markets, enter France and start in expansion in the U.K.
Poke House says it uses a lot of tech on its back end, tracking every element of the supply chain to optimize the business. It also analyzes data from third-party delivery platforms (i.e. Deliveroo, Glovo, Uber Eats) to deliver a sub-10 minutes food preparation time, and a delivery time under 25 mins.
Matteo Pichi, co-founder of Poke House said: “The pandemic has challenged our food sector, and we see technology as the way forward to innovate and digitalize the traditional restaurant experience. We are seeing a shift in people's desires in fast but healthy food. Poke bowls fit this new need and it promotes a more balanced, active and sustainable lifestyle with quick and healthy food options available nearby."
Speaking to TechCrunch, Pichi added: “Our competitors are the fast-growing healthy concepts such as Sweetgreen or Sweetfin in the U.S. But at the same time, we think we are lucky because we really are one of the first brands built 100% from food delivery experts or former employees. Our next competitors are gonna be full native virtual brands extremely strong in data analysis and digital brand building. We use food delivery platforms as media platforms and we invest heavier than competitors in the channel.”
Gianfranco Burei, founding partner of Eulero Capital, said: “Poke House business model rides some of the main trends in the food sector (food-tech, healthy food, delivery, customization) and has all the characteristics and talents to position the company among the top players at European level. We are thrilled to be a partner of Poke House in an innovative and forward-looking project, in line with our investment strategy which is based on the search for companies included in the macro-trends that will characterize the economic, technological and social evolution of the coming years."