Playfair Capital Leads £1m Investment Into On-demand Food Service Pronto


pronto 1Healthy food delivery service Pronto has raised a £1m seed round, led by Playfair Capital, with Seedcamp, the London Co-Investment Fund, Ballpark Ventures, The Next Web founder Patrick de Laive and serial investor Floris Rost van Tonningen also joining the round.

Pronto was founded in 2014 by CEO James Roy Poulter, Simone D’Amico and Lukas Dolezal with the aim of delivering restaurant quality food cooked by experienced chefs to homes and offices in London in under 20 minutes.

Poulter, who at times slept on a mattress in the firm’s kitchens and claims to have delivered more than 300 dinners personally, sporting the company’s trademark bowtie, whilst building the platform, wants to “build the food infrastructure of the future in a trillion-pound global food market”, and believes that Pronto is capable of disrupting the kitchen in a similar fashion to the way Uber is disrupting the way we use cars.

The Pronto team, who come from an engineering background but grew up around the food industry, and recently relocated from Italy to join the MassChallenge accelerator program in Tobacco Dock, are justifiably proud of the platform they have created which allows customers to order with a mere 3 taps of their smartphones. Says Poulter:

“With technology and food at our core, we are working at a more fundamental level – so that we can get healthier, higher quality ingredients into the meals that we all consume day to day. With intelligent menu design, we are able to move up the supply chain faster, sourcing more intelligently and reducing waste.”

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So far the company has gained strong traction within London and on average customers are ordering more than 5 times per month, with some ordering on a daily basis. “We have been so deeply involved in the problem – quite literally living in it – that no one has been able to build such relevant technology so fast”, Poulter explained in the company’s press release.

Top Menu

Pronto’s menu includes healthy dishes such as a healthy chicken burger, chili ginger salmon, lean lamb meatballs and pulled pork, each for a price of around £8, with desserts (£3) including a double chocolate and raspberry brownie and nectarine and berry fruit salad. A range of drinks are also available and there is no minimum delivery charge.

The team recently appointed a new chef who has worked for Bombay Bicycle Club, Etihad Airways and British Airways, as well as moving into new premises which they describe as “proper production kitchens.”

Joseph Charlesworth, a partner at Playfair Capital who also sits on Pronto’s board, added, “The amount of technology they have built under the hood is impressive and controls everything from food procurement to processing and delivery. It’s the only way to offer consistent and excellent quality across the entire production and service chain whilst enabling transparency to customers on food ingredients – something which is becoming increasingly important to more health-conscious Londoners who want to know exactly what they’re eating and where it came from.”

Director of operations at MassChallenge UK Martin Sharman added “Pronto is on the brink of explosive growth in London and is about to disrupt this mammoth industry.’

The team will use the funds raised to build on their early traction and goodwill generated in London, increase market penetration, spread the brand and increase the size of the team.


Food-Tech space growing or getting crowded?

Food delivery in London is a crowded space; takeaway food aggregator JustEat has received more than 1bn orders and listed on the LSE last year at a valuation of $1.5bn, whilst rival Hungry House raised £53 million last year through its German parent company Delivery Hero, from New York VC Insight Venture partner.

Restaurant delivery service Deliveroo, founded by William Shu and Greg Orlowski, raised an impressive £16.5 million series B round in January, led by Index Ventures and also backed by Hoxton Ventures and Hummingbird Ventures, and Rocket Internet backed Hello Fresh, which delivers fresh ingredients and recipes in food boxes delivered direct to homes, is another serious player in the same market.

Internationally, it is an even bigger market; the food e-commerce sector in the US received over $0.5 billion’s worth of funding in the first six months of this year, however, given the size of the addressable market (everybody needs to eat, after all, and often), Pronto and their backers can look forward to the next stage of the businesses growth with optimism, and haven’t ruled out returning for fresh funding in the early part of next year.

Could Salcombe Gin Be Your “Shot” At Tax Efficient Investing?

By Friday, August 28, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Are you the kind of person who finds it hard to resist a cool G&T at the end of hard day’s work, or even at the end of hard day’s loafing? Are you also the kind of person who likes to invest in and back exciting new companies led by experienced founders with a track record of success? If so, Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies, the founders of Salcombe Gin Company, may have the perfect opportunity for you.

The duo are looking to complete a £900k equity raise to fund the launch of a new Gin Distilling Company in the drinks sector, Salcombe Distilling Company Limited.

London New Tech MeetUp at Google Campus

By Thursday, August 27, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Praise be! The tube strike is over, at least until next time and disgruntled Londoners muttering about driverless trains can get back to the business and the pleasure of London life!

Tech and start-up enthusiasts should try heading over to Google Campus where the London New Tech Meet-Up group will be showcasing some of the most promising new faces on the scene as well as some seriously disruptive tech.

Backed by $1bn of Venture Capital Israel Is Incubating Some Of The World’s Most Disruptive Start-ups

By Wednesday, August 26, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

If you had to rank all of the places around the world which have earned themselves a nickname pre-fixed by the word “Silicon”, Israel’s “Silicon Wadi” would possibly not feature in the top 3 either for size, scale, or investment, but there’s no question the area is home to some impressively innovative start-ups, and that the sector is growing quickly.

Talis Leads $1m Investment Into Loyalty Bay, The Data Service For Incentive & Rewards

By Wednesday, August 26, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Talis Capital, the Private Equity firm with a specialist Digital ventures arm, alongside VCs Howzat Partners & Neon Adventures and business angels Chris Maris & Richard Varney, have invested $1m into Loyalty Bay to allow the company to continue to develop its conversion optimiser API, which it sells to companies to help them drive up engagement rates for sales and referrals.

Loyalty Bay was founded in 2013 by CEO Will Roberts to apply data and analytics to the serving of incentives and rewards to create better online conversion rates; the company have developed 3 products, a Conversion Optimiser API, Rewards Hub and Super Users, and work alongside some of the UK’s largest companies, including Virgin Media, as well as promising start-ups such as Parcel Bright. Has Raised $8m Series A Led By Balderton Capital

By Wednesday, August 26, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Some of the buzz around London’s FashTech scene that was so prominent earlier in the summer has been restored as announced this week that it has secured $8m in Series A funding, led by Balderton Capital but also backed by the co-owners of artificial intelligence start-up Deep Mind, which recently bagged investment from Google Ventures, Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman, plus former president of Saks Fifth Avenue Andrew Jennings, and a number of other angel investors.

The Great Facebook Marketing Quandary & 15 Stats To Help You Decide

By Wednesday, August 26, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

We’re probably all familiar with and possibly a little bored by that famous old line: “I know half of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half!” by now, and as we enter an age where, allegedly, everything is measurable and can be broken down into KPIs, MI’s and metrics, it’s tempting to think the statement no longer has any relevance.

In a funny kind of way though, it probably applies more than ever; yes we have more data to play with than ever before thanks to our ability to track people’s activities, particularly online, but that data can be sliced and diced, broken down and interpreted in so many different ways, it’s hard to believe that we can rely on an algorithm to get all of our marketing decisions right for us. The age of machine learning is upon us, but it’s far from perfect. “Users who brought such and such, also bought…” can often be so inaccurate it feels more like an amusing sideshow than a reliable resource.

Take a deep breath; The Ofcom Communications Market Report Is Out & We Are A Smartphone Society

By Tuesday, August 25, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Weighing in at 431 pages of facts, stats, definitions and graphs, there’s no doubt Ofcom’s snapshot of the state of the communications market in 2015 is a mighty thorough piece of work, more of a long lens panoramic time lapse than a snapshot perhaps.

The section on “smartphone society” is worth paying close attention to, however, because it confirms the widely held conviction that the British, renowned for being early adopters where tech is concerned, now regard their smartphones as the device that they like most and the one they use for connecting to the internet more than any other.

Local Car Sharing Service DriveNow Has The Largest Electric Car Fleet In The UK

By Tuesday, August 25, 2015 1 No tags Permalink 0


We’re used to hearing about “the Uber for this” or the “Airbnb for that” but how about “Boris Bikes for BMWs”?

Jospeh Seal-Driver, MD of DriveNow believes that “we’re actually even more flexible than Boris Bikes given you can drop your car anywhere,” and perhaps a touch more comfortable. Additionally, 30 of the 270 cars in the fleet are BMW i3s, making this the largest fleet of electric cars in the country.

Is Product Hunt The Best Search & Discover Platform for new Apps, Games and Books; Not Yet But Watch This Space, Literally!

By Tuesday, August 25, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Who needs journalists? Product Hunt, the tech-oriented aggregation site which recently raised $6m at a valuation of $22m in a round led by Andreesen Horowitz and is also backed by Ashton Kutcher, Y Combinator and Google Ventures amongst others, has found a way to bypass the press and reach out directly to users, who can post questions to the site which founders can answer; providing they know their product has been listed!

Amazon Web Services is opening a pop-up loft at WeWork Moorgate

By Tuesday, August 25, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0


Working on an app? Drink coffee? Looking for a few answers to some technical questions you have about Amazon Web Services? Then the AWS pop-up loft is for you!

Hosted on the sixth floor of the stunning WeWork Moorgate offices, a few strides from Moorgate tube and a short stroll from Old Street, the Loft will be open for 7 weeks from 10th September and will be free to use, with free wifi and coffee, from 9am to 6pm every day.

Ouch! Tech stocks plummeted yesterday, but don’t worry, Tech giants are already on the mend thanks to Tim Cook!

By Tuesday, August 25, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

apple-exec-tim-cookThe slumping Chinese economy was apparently to blame for more than $75bn being wiped off the value of Apple yesterday, as China’s Shanghai Composite index fell by 8.7%, the biggest single day drop since the 2007 global financial crisis, and in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1,000 points within the first few minutes of trading, even after the New York Stock Exchange invoked Rule 48 before trading began, an emergency measure designed to curb volatility in the markets.

China has been a worry ever since the People’s Bank of China devalued the Yuan by 2% versus the dollar earlier this month, the largest rate cut of the past two decades. Apple’s share price dropped below $100 to as low as $92, before an email from Apple CEO Tim Cook to Jim Cramer at that read something like this calmed fears and returned the stock to above the $100 mark:

TruBe Training app for Yoga, Kickboxers and Boxers amongst first UK apps to be fully integrated with Apple Pay

By Monday, August 24, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

trubeTruBe is the UK’s first on-demand fitness app, having taken the personal trainer model and made it even more relevant to the fast-paced and digitally connected modern world, and now it is amongst the first UK start-up’s to have integrated Apple Pay.

TruBe matches users with highly qualified instructors from a range of specialist sporting and fitness backgrounds, and comes with a range of features to deliver an enhanced consumer experience, such as voting for a “favourite trainer”, and developing and planning signature programmes with industry leaders to incorporate the latest thinking in health and exercise science.

Seedrs has a week to remember; four businesses into overfunding & £7k invested per minute

By Monday, August 24, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

It’s hard to pick out a highlight given how well things have gone for equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs lately; they certainly hogged the headlines last week as board advisory member and 2013 Wimbledon champ Andy Murray announced he would be making 3 investments through the platform, into Trillenium, Tossed and Fuel Ventures, Seedrs itself launched a campaign to raise the final £2.5m of a £10m Series A round led by Augmentum Capital and Woodford Patient Capital Trust, and the company announced this morning that an average of £430k per hour was invested via their platform over the course of the week.

The start-up metrics you must know, not to please VCs, but to keep your business afloat!

By Monday, August 24, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Andreesen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans has released a list of 16 start-up metrics that will help founders understand more about what to look out for when running their business. Whilst paying close attention to the metrics may also help to make start-ups more appealing to investors, Evans is at pains to point out, like Paul Graham before him, that rapid growth, not ability to raise money, is the hallmark of a real startup.

Research shows Britain is home to 17 tech “unicorns”, 13 of them in London

By Monday, August 24, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

VC investment into British technology companies is at an all-time high according to London & Partners, with more than $1.5bn raised during the first 6 months of 2015.

The figures compiled by London & Partners and sourced from angel and VC investment database CB insights show a significant increase on the same period in 2014 which saw $1bn of funding raised, and eclipse the full 12 month totals from 2010-2013.

AShhhh!ley Madison shocker; as 33m personal data sets are leaked; could this finally be too much publicity for founder Noel Biderman

By Monday, August 24, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Ashley Madison, the extra-marital dating site whose slogan is “Life is short, have an affair”, has long been accused of moral bankruptcy, but it seems that has never bothered the site’s founder & CEO Noel Biderman, a self-confessed family man who says he has never used the site personally.

Back in 2010 he boasted that 31,000 women signed up to the site the day after Mother’s Day, apparently in response to their spouse’s underwhelming or non-existent attempts to make the day  a special enough one.

Fresh From A Recent Fundraising, TheJobPost Appoints A New CEO

By Friday, August 21, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Leading European recruitment platform TheJobPost, which connects 100s of employers including RWE Npower, Serco and the NHS with over 42,000 specialist recruiters, has appointed HR and technology specialist Nick Holmes, the ex-MD of Lumesse, as CEO.

Holmes has worked in recruitment-tech form more than 14 years and will lead TheJobPost as they look to drive the business model forward and create “friction free recruitment”, with the ability to introduce employers to specialist recruiters in hours and minutes.

Silicon Roundup; Parking Matters, Skin Care Breakthrough, Tech Recruiter Hires, Murray Invests, Australia Visits

By Friday, August 21, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Today’s round-up looks at a variety of stories and start-ups, from skin care to Fintech, reflecting the diverse nature of the tech scene both locally and internationally. We’d love to hear from you with stories about hot start-ups, accelerators, incubators & particularly about hyper-local goings on; Shoreditch, Haggerston, Dalston, Hackney, Islington – so drop us a line with any news!

New iPhone Will Be In Shops From 18th September; But Will It Be The 7 Or The 6S, And How Do We Feel About It?

By Thursday, August 20, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0
apple mac

leaked picture of the new iPhone courtesy of 9TO5 Mac

The consequence of introducing an iPhone available in two different sizes, the 6 and the 6 plus, 11 months ago may be that Apple does away with its usual practice of releasing an upgraded 6S or 6S Plus and goes straight to an iPhone 7 release, but either way it seems likely that the official launch of the new phone will be in the week commencing 7th September, with the new phone hitting the shops 10 days later, as is Apple’s wont, on or around the 18th September.

What can we expect? Well there have been leaks galore over the previous few weeks which given the level of interest a new iPhone release always generates, (even now the company has diversified into watches, electric cars, payments and music streaming) is hardly surprising. The new iPhone is rumoured to be expensive, thanks to the use of 7000 series aluminium rather than 6000, still available in 2 different sizes (but not in a 4 inch version like all phones pre iPhone 6), not as bendy, and will incorporate “Force Touch”, like the Apple Watch.