Hungry, a catering marketplace that connects businesses with independent chefs, announced this week that it has raised $20 million in Series B funding. Hungry tells me that the funding valued the company at more than $100 million (pre-money).
The investors were also pretty impressive: The round was led by Evolution VC Partners and former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, who’s joining the startup’s board. Kevin Hart, Jay-Z, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, former Obama aide Reggie Love and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner also participated.
CEO Jeff Grass said that he and his co-founders Eman Pahlavani (COO) and Shy Pahlevani (president) got the idea for the company while working at their previous startup LiveSafe.
“LiveSafe was in a food desert, where the best options were Subway and Ruby Tuesday,” Grass said. “We wanted more authentic food and we started thinking about, ‘Is there a better way that taps into local chefs?’ ”
That eventually led to Hungry, which has built up a network of independent chefs in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Atlanta, providing catering to companies including Amazon, E-Trade, Microsoft and BCG. The chefs are all screened by Hungry, they cook out of “ghost kitchens” (commercial kitchens that aren’t attached to a restaurant) and then the food is delivered by the Hungry team.
“The food is produced at a much lower cost structure than at a restaurant with a retail location,” Grass said. “And yet you’re not sacrificing on quality. These are top chefs cooking their best dishes — you get higher than restaurant-quality food, but produced at a much lower cost.”
He added that this lower cost also allows the startup to be generous. Specifically, for every two meals sold, Hungry is supposed to donate one meal to end hunger in the U.S., and it has donated nearly 500,000 meals already.
As for the funding, Grass and his team will use it to expand into new markets — he hopes to be in 23 cities by the end of 2021.