SAN FRANCISCO — Zerocater, a provider of corporate cafeterias and catering solutions, has raised a Series C funding of $15 million, led by Cleveland Avenue LLC, with participation from Remus Capital. The company is also expanding its technology enabled corporate cafeteria solution to ten additional markets including its first international market in Canada.
Since completing YCombinator in Winter 2011, Zerocater has raised $38.5 million from investors.
Zerocater is a leader for corporate catering and cafeteria solutions in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City where Datadog, Splunk, RobinHood, and others are customers. With this new funding, the company plans to continue to invest in its AI and machine learning capabilities which it uses to personalize daily cafeteria and catering menus for the companies it feeds based on the tastes of their employees.
“Companies of all sizes are looking for flexibility in their food programs and ways to reduce costs while their employees are demanding personalized and diverse food options to return to the office,” says Ali Sabeti, CEO of Zerocater. “We built our Cloud Cafe and Hybrid Cafe products during the pandemic to solve these two core problems and the demand has been incredible. We are experiencing the fastest growth in our company’s history having tripled our revenue in the last year. With our Series C raise, we are expanding to new markets because our existing customers are asking us to.”
While employees are returning to the office, for many companies the workplace does not look the same as it did pre-pandemic, with many shifting to a hybrid model where employees can choose to come into the office as they like. In-office flexibility has created a tremendous amount of unpredictability both in terms of how many employees come into the office on any given day, and who those employees are. This unpredictability has made it impossible for traditional cafeteria and catering providers to operate as they guess how many employees are coming in, how much food to cook, and what food might resonate with those employees. Oftentimes they guess wrong resulting in food and staffing waste, exorbitant costs for companies, and a poor meal experience for employees.
“The pandemic and the shift to hybrid work completely broke how companies feed their teams. The opportunity for Zerocater to transform the $182B corporate cafeteria and catering market is immense,” says Keith Kravcik, CIO Cleveland Avenue. “Add in the current economic uncertainty and it is clear companies will no longer spend millions building out traditional cafeterias with full-time chefs, guessing what food and how much of it to prepare, and signing 5-year contracts when the in office headcount changes daily or another COVID outbreak could cause a shutdown.”
With Zerocater’s Cloud Cafe, Hybrid Cafe, and Managed Cafe products employees have the option of enjoying a world-class buffet style meal experience in their cafeteria or using the Zerocater app to choose the boxed meal they want on the days they’re coming into the office. With over 450 enterprise quality commissary kitchens, caterers, and restaurants on its platform, Zerocater is able to offer employees over 10 daily cuisines with 70 daily menu items that are curated weekly from over 120 available cuisines and 20,000 unique menu items. When it comes to the meal experience, Zerocater’s onsite team owns all aspects of the daily cafeteria operations from design and decor, to onsite staffing and equipment. Most importantly, Zerocater’s products were built for the hybrid workplace as companies only pay for the employees who come into the office. Companies also don’t need to spend millions of dollars building, maintaining, and staffing expensive onsite kitchens or committing to long term contracts.
“We love the customization and variety Zerocater’s cafeteria solution offers us with multiple cuisines and dozens of menu items per day without any of the waste and commitment of a traditional cafeteria,” says Sarah Redman, Office Manager at Druva. “I can trust their onsite operations team to handle everything involved with daily meals for our employees. With the constant changes of the last few years, Zerocater has been flexible in what they offer as our needs have changed.”
Ensuring employees are getting diverse menus that are aligned to their unique tastes and preferences is the only way companies are able to increase office attendance. Zerocater takes a data driven approach to building menus using its FoodIQ AI. After every meal, employees use the Zerocater app to give feedback which then allows its AI to better learn the groups preferences and use that data to curate upcoming meals. The more feedback employees give, the more powerful the recommendations, resulting in employees getting more of the food they love.
Prior to its Series C, Zerocater reassessed its strategy during the pandemic, reacting quickly as it built new product offerings for the era of remote and hybrid work. Now, Zerocater is experiencing the fastest growth in its history as the solutions it built during the pandemic are the future of corporate cafeterias and catering. With this round of funding, Zerocater is actively working towards its goal of reinventing the corporate cafeteria and becoming the national provider for major global companies.