The coronavirus pandemic might be ebbing away, and the world be getting back to normal, but it continues to rain unicorn startups in India.
Faasos parent Rebel Foods has become the third Indian startup in three days to turn unicorn. Rebel Foods has raised $175 million in its Series F financing round led by Qatar Investment Authority, with participation from existing investors Coatue and Evolvence. The round values Rebel Foods at $1.4 billion, making it the 31st startup to enter the unicorn club this year.
“The food-tech space has evolved towards better personalisation, innovation, and complete transparency which Rebel Foods continues to pioneer,” said Rebel Foods Chief Strategy Officer Ravi Golani. “With this round of funding, we will continue to serve newer customer food missions powered by technology and automation,” he added.
“While we are excited about becoming the next unicorn, our focus continues to remain on improving customer experience the Rebel way,” said Faasos Chief Financial Officer Piyush Kakkad. “This round of funding will be re-invested in building our technology, increasing our global presence, and also acquiring new brands. Rebel Foods is working towards an IPO in the next 18-24 months,” he added.
Rebel Foods wasn’t always a cloudkitchen brand — the company was founded all the way back in 2011 by INSEAD MBAs Jaydeep Barman and Kallol Banerjee as a physical restaurant chain with an online ordering facility. In 2015, as internet penetration grew and online food ordering became more popular, the company launched its cloudkitchens, which were specialized kitchens which catered exclusively to online orders. In 2016, Rebel Foods bet big on the trend, becoming an exclusive cloud kitchen brand.
Cut to 5 years later, and Rebel Foods now operates 4000 “internet restaurants” across 10 countries including Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, and its home market of India. Its 4000 “internet restaurants” are the highest for any single company anywhere in the world. Rebel Foods runs as many as 45 brands that including Faasos for wraps, Behrouz Biryani for biryanis, Oven Story for pizzas, The Good Bowl for food bowls, and Sweet Tooth and Firangi bakes for desserts. Rebel Foods has also entered into a partnership with American fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s, under which it will start and operate 250 cloud kitchens for the latter in India. Rebel Foods now has an annual revenue run-rate of $150 million (Rs. 1,000 crore).
And it’s no surprise that a cloudkitchen company is now on India’s unicorn list — cloudkitchens have had the perfect storm going for them. Higher internet penetration has meant that more people now order online as opposed to visiting physical restaurants, and cloudkitchen brands are able to cheaply and quickly set up these ordering-only outlets. And while the coronavirus pandemic battered the restaurant industry, cloudkitchen brands thrived as people ordered food from the safety of their homes. And Rebel Foods, having been one of the pioneers of the industry, finds itself on the unicorn list for betting early on an idea whose time as certainly come.