“What’s for lunch?” This is a question that occupies the minds of most working professionals every afternoon, and a problem that UAE-based food tech startup set out to solve. The startup, connecting Dubai’s professionals to lunch menus from major restaurants in the city, has closed a US$500,000 seed funding led by Wamda Capital with Arzan VC, Dubai Angel Investors and others participating in the round. The startup considers itself a “proactive lunch experience in the region,” given that it sends a curated daily menu to registered users via text message or email, and a reply from the user is all that's needed to get the food delivered. Founded by corporate professionals Mohammad Al Zaben and Dana Baki, Lunch:On is operational since February 2016,and claims to have seen an average user and order growth of 25-30% month-on-month.
Commenting on how the company proposes to use the investment, Dana Baki, co-founder and COO, Lunch:On says that the funds will be primarily directed towards hiring business development and technology talent. “Our aim is to expand quickly in the UAE, while ensuring we continue to develop the scalable technology that meets our users’ needs,” she says. According to Baki, the startup started “informal conversations” with “several months” before officially getting into raising funds, to share their vision and get investor feedback. “This made conversations and decisions about our seed round a bit more seamless as we had already taken many of them along the growth journey with us.” With respect to the criteria Lunch:On used to evaluate investors before sealing the deal, Baki lists two key factors: “First, and most importantly, it was very important to us that the investors understood and shared our for the company and could provide strategic guidance and value where needed. Second, we view this as the first of hopefully many rounds to come, so we also considered each investor’s ability to either strategically or financially contribute to future rounds, when weighing our options.”
Lunch:On’s founders believe that the startup’s differentiation lies in the “simplicity of their 'message to order' platform,” and Baki adds that the startup is, in essence, “a company’s virtual canteen.” The food tech startup is working to achieve scale with their “prediction and scheduling algorithms” that consider and ordering patterns in pairing companies and restaurants. Offering an investor perspective, Senior Investment Manager, ArzanVC and a technology advisor to Lunch:On, says in a statement that besides the convenience associated with delivering food to working people, "there’s a lot of software innovation and data mining that has gone into building this efficient and frictionless experience.”