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October 1, 2022

The company provides existing bricks and mortar restaurants with a turnkey digital delivery solution ‘that runs seamlessly in the background’. In other words, restaurants can both cook for their diners and operate a delivery arm from their own kitchens, providing dishes for customers at home. These customers can find these restaurants via online delivery services like Deliveroo and UberEats.

Not So Dark said this model helps restaurants optimise profitability. Simultaneously, delivery platforms get access to new offerings in smaller cities, giving them the ability to scale. It gives restaurants specifically designed online menus for home delivery. According to the start-up “restaurants get everything they need to succeed – from a digital ordering system, effortless turnkey operations, a platform that continuously optimizes business performance, built-in marketing that runs around the clock, and strong unit economics.”

A virtual food brand creator

Not So Dark initially launched in 2020 as a dark kitchen network operator, and the company also creates online food brands operating delivery-only menus sold on UberEats and Deliveroo. Its brands include Vegedal, Como Kitchen, Coquillettes, JFK Burgers and Gaïa Pita. Eight months ago, the company decided to add existing bricks and mortar restaurants to its model. To date, the company has secured a portfolio of 150 partners that operate in more than 100 cities in France and Belgium.

The company added that its built-in data analytics platform is driven by machine learning capabilities that are ‘hyper responsive’ to changes in price, demand and competition. “This innovation is game-changing for the food delivery industry, particularly at a time when competition is tough, prices fluctuate daily and supply chains are strained,”​ it said.

The latest Series B funding round was led by Kharis Capital and Verlinvest, in partnership with Conviviality Ventures. It raises Not So Dark’s total funding to date to US$105 million.

‘People are hungry for more choices from online delivery’

Not So Dark said it will use the new funding to expand its franchise operations across Europe and fulfil its ambition of becoming the ‘world’s biggest restaurant – without a single kitchen’. Consumers are “hungry for better, fresher food choices, more variety and increased convenience particularly in smaller cities where delivery options are limited to big chains”,​ it said.

Online global food delivery surged at a rate of 33% CAGR during the pandemic to represent an estimated $43 billion. The industry is projected to further grow at a rate of 10% CAGR over the next five years.

“Pivoting and starting from zero was a massive undertaking,”​ said Not Dark Founder Clément Benoit. “But we saw so clearly that the future of the online delivery industry was in forging partnerships with traditional restaurants – not competing with them. We’re honoured that our initial investors trusted our vision. The new funding will be used to strengthen our market leadership in France and scale across Europe at a very fast pace.”

Daniel Grossman, Managing Partner of Kharis Capital claimed Not So Dark is a company ‘bound for market leadership’: “We’ve studied the dark kitchens market and watched its rapid development. We believe Not So Dark cracked the model that essentially allows all parties involved to profitably grow their business while offering customers alternative and convenient food offerings. In just one year, Not So Dark has already established itself as a major figure in the sector. We are pleased to accompany the founders of this French gem in this new stage of its growth towards European leadership.”

Raphael Thiolon, Executive Director at Verlinvest added: “The Not So Dark team are building a unique platform that adds tremendous value to the whole food delivery ecosystem: a greater choice of exciting brands and high-quality meal options for consumers; additional volumes and profits for restaurants at no extra cost or complexity; and extensive new supply for food delivery players – enabling them to broaden their offer, especially outside of big cities. They’re using technology, R&D and disruptive marketing to improve consumers’ food habits, which is at the core of Verlinvest’s investment strategy. We’re thrilled to welcome Not So Dark into our portfolio and to help them build the dominant virtual brand platform in Europe.”

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