Described as "essential infrastructure" for hospitality by one of its backers, Foodbomb has a fresh take on wholesale sourcing at restaurants, cafes and bars, with a little help from tech nous and data science savvy.
For hospitality operators dealing with perishables, the ability to source, order and manage their food inventories is critical for delivering quality eating experiences to customers and achieving profitable margins, but finding the right suppliers at the right time is not always easy.
Suppliers too face their own challenges as the clock of freshness is ticking as soon as the final product leaves the packing shed, and negotiations can be burdensome, particularly in a rapidly-changing market as the COVID-19 situation unfolds.
A Sydney-based outfit co-founded by Paul Tory and Josh Goulburn has sought to bridge that divide through the online marketplace Foodbomb, connecting independent venues with suppliers so they can both optimise the often complicated and time-consuming wholesale food ordering process.
It is a vision that received a boost this week thanks to a $4.5 million Series A funding round that included EVP, Athletic Ventures, Aura Ventures, and Tahmedia, the family office of Tony Gandel.
Foodbomb already has a presence in its hometown and Melbourne, but the raise - also supported by Platform Advisory Partners - will see it dive into the Brisbane market next month and double its headcount.
"I've spent most my working life in the food industry observing many of the frustrations Foodbomb today solves," says Tory, who founded the company in 2017 off the back of his successful home meat delivery business.
"The idea to build a stronger relationship between suppliers and venues stemmed from the knowledge that both desired a better way of operating.
"By creating Foodbomb we're not only improving industry efficiencies, but enabling suppliers and venues to invest in growth through time and money saved. We're thankful to be able to play our part in helping this vibrant industry, in and out of difficult times."
In addition to eliminating room for error, venues can also use Foodbomb to compare prices and value, as well as experiment with new products and providers. Suppliers are also exposed to a bigger customer base and have improved cash flow as the platform guarantees payment in seven days.
Goulburn joined Foodbomb shortly after the brand's conception, bringing to the company extensive startup and high-growth business experience. He discusses how the pandemic has galvanised the push towards efficiency within the hospitality sector.
"While COVID certainly continues to disrupt the food industry, there is a hunger among most in the industry to return stronger than they were before," Goulburn explains.
"After the first wave of lockdowns, we were back quicker than we initially thought as cafes and restaurants looked for new ways of doing things.
"They needed to optimise their wholesale operations as well as save time and money, particularly given labour shortages."
He says today the community is not only more supportive of each other, but highly adaptive and ambitious.
"This Series A enables us to better meet their growing needs. We are expanding our team and service, both online and offline, to be their true industry partners," he says.
The company is doubling its headcount from 20 to 40 people in areas like data science, finance, product, and engineering, and claims to have doubled its year-on-year growth metrics as well.
"We're scaling quickly and that means our team is critical to our growth," says Tory.
"We're humbled by the support of all who've contributed to our success to date and this raise. Their investment means we can hire at speed and continue the trajectory we've managed to build in recent years."
EVP Partner Justin Lipman says it is Foodbomb's areas of focus that attracted his equity fund to invest in Foodbomb for a third time.
"Foodbomb's product solves a genuine problem for the hospitality industry, driving revenue to food suppliers and material cost savings cafes, restaurants and hospitality venues," Lipman says.
"When we see such a strong level of customer advocacy, and the genuine delivery of value to multiple stakeholders in an industry, it's typically a signal to invest.
"Paul and Josh have grown the business by a factor of 10x since we first met in 2019. Re-investing was a relative no-brainer. The founders have excelled in hiring one of Australia's strongest startup teams and are deeply valued by their customers and suppliers."
Athletic Ventures managing partner Matt DeBoer highlights the Foodbomb co-founders' "insatiable appetite" for company and cultural growth, making them a powerful leadership team.
"Of course, it's their domain knowledge and scale up skills that makes them stand out above everyone else," DeBoer says.
"Relationships and understanding their customer are everything to them and that is felt throughout their platform. We're thrilled to be involved on the long term journey."
Platform Advisory Partners director Paul Tontodonati describes Foodbomb as "essential infrastructure", which brings great value and potential to their business.
"Their growth is astonishing and their reputation as confident, initiative founders is second to none," Tontodonati says.
"We have worked with a number of e-commerce businesses and marketplaces, and found Foodbomb's model to be fundamentally different."
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