Healthy 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.”
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.
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.