Virtual restaurateur Not So Dark raises $80M in France

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The company has just raised $80 million in Series B. A colossal amount that reflects the interest of investors and restaurateurs.

The virtual restaurateur Not So Dark raises $80M in France

To change model, you have to have a solid back. Especially in the launch phase for a startup. This is what Not So Dark, who previously worked in the management of dark kitchens, has just achieved. From its Series A (20 million euros) to its Series B announced Monday ($80 million), the nugget launched in 2020 is emerging from a perilous transition period with a new envelope intended to allow it to be deployed more widely. Clément Benoît and Alexandre Haggai, its co-founders, had lost more than 15 million euros when their ghost kitchens suddenly closed in 2021.

In its new offering, Not So Dark has created several brands with turnkey recipes, which it proposes to provide to restaurateurs of all kinds so that they can increase their turnover. Not So Dark takes advantage of their kitchens, restaurants take advantage of a simple solution where they will not have nothing else to do but cook. Orders are made on the profiles of the corresponding brands, available on meal delivery applications.

Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Just Eat… The French nugget is now an expert on these platforms thanks to his talents in communication, marketing and pricing(to do better than the competition depending on the cities and periods). Not So Dark knows that its proposed recipes are popular, manages all the visuals for a perfect rendering, and takes care of the supply of ingredients. Restaurant owners sign up, don't need to make any additional investment, and the brands' social networks are managed internally.

The error of dark kitchens

The flip-flop came last year when Not So Dark realized that running dark kitchens was risky. The company CloudKitchens of Travis Kalanick (the founder of Uber), shows it in the United States. You can very quickly have to deal with restaurateurs who are unhappy with the premises, antagonize the authorities with the chosen locations, and lose money with cooking recipes that do not work.

“There's nothing dark about this market. We are not in competition with traditional catering where the atmosphere and the face-to-face will remain the value of the proposal”, explained the company last year when announcing its new business model.

Not So Dark has therefore selected five strong brands ( Coquillettes, Vegedal, Como Kitchen, JFK Burgers, and Gaïa) has also just launched Fat Panda, and is changing the way it works. Now it is aimed directly at restaurateurs with existing kitchens. The concept is known as “light franchising.

The $80 million in fresh money won't be too much for the sequel. Behind the glitter, Not So Dark however missed its goal of 500 virtual restaurateurs before the end of 2021. A level that the French startup had set in July. On its official website, it claims 300 virtual restaurateurs for the moment, established in 100 cities in France and Belgium. Not So Dark says employ 150 people to carry out the project. The company did not wish to give details of its turnover and profitability.

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