Gathar-ing momentum: Catering platform locks in crowdfunded capital for US expansion push

Gathar-ing momentum: Catering platform locks in crowdfunded capital for US expansion push

L-R: Gathar founder Jodie Mlikota and Michelin-starred Australian chef Curtis Stone (provided).

Private chef booking platform Gathar has locked in capital via crowd-sourced funding (CSF) that founder Jodie Mlikota hopes will take the company farther afield in the US.

Having launched the catering site in Austin, Texas in March, Mlikota has since returned to Australia to run the crowdfunding round on equity crowdfunding platform Microwd.

Within the first three days, the company amassed enough backers to hit the minimum target of $500,000 raised - a figure that has since risen to more than $730,000. The company could turbocharge the raise even further if it hits the maximum of $2 million before the crowdfund closes on 3 May.

Wirth 51 investors on board - representing an average investment of approximately $14,000 per backer - Mlikota told Business News Australia that the company would press on with its US growth plans.

“We’re definitely focusing on growth in the US and keeping the growth going in Australia as well,” Mlikota said.

“We know the US is a massive opportunity, but it does take a fair amount of capital to finally get to that level of growth - so that’s a major part of the investment.”

Growing out the internal team is a priority too, particularly in the B2B sales channel - ‘a really big growth market’ for Gathar according to Mlikota.

“Our web platform is also a focus too because that underpins and enables all of the growth and development for us,” she said.

“So growth in the US is our primary aim, then Australian growth after that as well as our sales team and the web platform to support both of those.”

For Mlikota, the raise comes as the brand is pushing into new US markets - a hop, step and a jump from the business’ origins in Cairns and Port Douglas - supported by $1 million in post-seed funding round led by angel investment group ACAC Innovation.

Gathar, which allows users to book private chefs and catering services for events, launched its US offshoot in California nearly one year ago with the help of Michelin-starred Australian chef and LA-based restaurateur Curtis Stone, who became a co-founder of the international business.

With the west coast business tracking along, Mlikota moved into the Texan market with an Austin launch during the state’s celebration of technology, innovation and culture - SXSW.

While over there, Mlikota said that she secured a head of sales for the US business - one of her ‘key goals’ for the overseas journey.

With the business established in Austin, the company’s plan is to grow further in Texas before giving the Miami, Florida market a crack.

Though she’s since returned to Australia, the founder said she would be going back soon in order to speak with local investors to help scale the international arm of Gathar.

“We’ll be going back to the US to have some conversations with US investors on this next trip - we haven’t previously targeted US investors,” she said.

“We wanted to have solid US growth before having those conversations and we’re really starting to see that.

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