Indonesia’s GOJEK backs Indian cloud kitchen startup Rebel Foods

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Indonesian ride-hailing major GOJEK has invested $5 million (Rs 34.69 crore) in the ongoing Series D funding round of Indian cloud kitchen startup Rebel Foods Pvt Ltd, which owns brands such as Faasos, Lunch Box and Oven Story.

The investment marks GOJEK’s second bet on an Indian startup.

The company, along with Sequoia India and Times Internet, led a $35.5-million investment round in domestic mobile gaming company, Mobile Premier League (MPL), in April this year.

According to a Rebel Foods filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) available with, Go-Ventures, the venture capital arm of GOJEK, has subscribed to 667 Series D2 compulsorily convertible cumulative preference shares (CCCPS) and 100 equity shares of the company in exchange for the aforesaid investment.

The funding comes almost four months after the startup raised Rs 110.66 crore ($16 million) led by existing investors Sequoia Capital and Lightbox Ventures.

While Sequoia had invested through Sequoia Capital India Trust and SCI Investments VI fund in that round, Lightbox Ventures had routed the funding through Lightbox Ventures II and Lightbox Expansion Fund. UAE-based private equity fund Evolvence had also participated in the funding through its India fund.

Earlier this year, the startup had also raised Rs 30 crore ($4.2 million) in debt funding from venture debt firm Alteria Capital through the issue of non-convertible debentures.

Faasos is looking to raise a total of $150 million in fresh funding at a valuation of $350-400 million for domestic and overseas expansion, Mint reported in January. It has appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the fundraise and seek new investors.

According to Crunchbase, Rebel Foods has raised a total of $124.6 million in funding to date.

Rebel Foods, which claims to be the world’s largest cloud kitchen chain, was incorporated as Faasos Food Services Pvt. Ltd. in 2011 by Jaydeep Barman and Kallol Banerjee. It was rebranded in October last year. The other brands that are part of the company’s portfolio include Behrouz Biryani and Mandarin Oak.

According to a TechCircle report, the company runs 1,455 restaurants in over 200 kitchens across 15 cities. Speaking to the portal in March, Barman said that the company plans to have 10,000 virtual restaurants in about 1,000 kitchens in the next five years. The company also had plans to launch Dubai operations the same month.

Rebel Foods competes with the likes of Lightspeed-backed Freshmenu,  InnerChef India Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai-based Scootsy (owned by Swiggy), and Hyderabad-based TinMen.

On its recent partnership with digital employee benefits company Sodexo, Sagar Kochhar, Chief Marketing Officer, Rebel Foods, said, “Our customers have helped us grow multiple brands worth Rs 150 crore across the nation and soon across the globe. Our priority will therefore always be to look at their benefit in every manner possible, and this is a step in that direction.”

Other bigger players operating in the country’s food delivery space include Swiggy and Zomato. Indian ride-hailing giant Ola is also driving its cloud kitchens strategy through Foodpanda. Oyo, too, has ventured into the food business with the launch of private labels on existing food delivery platforms. It is also reportedly in talks to acquire FreshMenu.

Uber Eats, the online food delivery service owned by Uber Technologies Inc., is also venturing into this space with virtual restaurants in partnership with Càfe Coffee Day.

The rapid growth of online food ordering is further giving a push to the business of cloud kitchens globally.

According to a recent South China Morning Post report, Former Uber Technologies chief executive Travis Kalanick plans to bring his Los Angeles-based company CloudKitchens to China to provide food and beverage businesses with real-estate, facilities management, technology and marketing services. Uber’s food delivery division UberEATS is a partner of CloudKitchens.

In May, Amazon announced that it is leading a $575-million funding round in the UK-based food delivery company Deliveroo, as it looks to diversify into the food delivery market. Earlier, Uber was too reported to be interested in buying Deliveroo.

Another European chain, Keatz, raised €12 million in new funding about four months ago. It operates 10 cloud kitchens across Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona and Munich.

Meanwhile, GOJEK is ramping up its presence in India. It acquired a Bengaluru-based recruitment platform, AirCTO, in June last year with an aim to hire talent to support its super app strategy. At that time, it also announced that it has opened an office in Gurugram and aimed to hire over 100 people and expand operations.