Anton Soulier, one of Deliveroo’s first employees and central to the food deliveries company’s expansion into France, has raised $37 million in investment capital to fuel the expansion of Taster, the delivery-only restaurants group he established after leaving the company.
Mr Soulier was the seventh person ever hired by Deliveroo and left the company in 2017 to pursue his own venture. He had the idea for Taster, which last year delivered over a million meals in the UK, France and Spain, as a result of his experience with Deliveroo, which led him to the conclusion:
“Restaurants weren’t really set up for delivery — it was a secondary thought,” Soulier said. “Some of the top restaurants were closing on Saturday or Friday evening, at peak times, because they wanted to prioritise sitting customers over delivery.”
So Soulier established Taster to develop delivery-only restaurants where everything was set up to maximise the efficiency of cooking meals to be couriered to the homes of customers. The Taster platform now hosts over 70 digital restaurants that only serve takeaway meals.
Taster currently runs five digital restaurant brands from its ‘dark kitchens’, including Korean chicken restaurant Out Fry, Taiwanese street food brand Bian Dang and A Burgers – which sells only plant-based burgers. Orders can be made via Taster’s own app or via Deliveroo or Uber Eats but all deliveries are made by specialist delivery partners, not Taster itself.
After doubling its revenues between 2019 and 2020, Taster is ready for the next step in its expansion. That will be funded by the $37 million just raised in an investment round led by Octopus Venture. The company will now be scaled aggressively in both the UK and internationally.
Expansion is being achieved quickly due to Taster’s low overheads and a franchise-style approach to growth. Restaurants and even pure dark kitchen operators can join the Taster platform and license the company’s brands and produce the food to specification from their premises.
Dark kitchens producing food for digital-only restaurant brands is a quickly growing trend that is expected to continue over coming years. UberEats and DoorDash, the U.S. food delivery giants are now setting up their own dark kitchens and restaurant brands and see it as a natural evolution to their business model.
Larger brands are also expected to start to establish their own dark kitchens to serve delivery orders. That will allow traditional restaurants to focus on sitting customers without missing out on the growing home deliveries market.