Ando, the delivery-only online restaurant from Momofuku founder David Chang, has closed a $7 million, Series A financing round to help the concept expand its delivery reach throughout New York City, the company said Tuesday.
Forerunner Ventures, an early-stage investor known for investments in companies such as Dollar Shave Club, led the funding round, along with other early-stage funds BoxGroup and Wildcat Venture Partners.
Other angels come from a remarkably wide array of backgrounds, from Estee Lauder chairman William Lauder and SoulCycle founder Elizabeth Cutler, to comedians Jimmy Fallon and Aziz Ansari. Dick Boyce, the former chairman of Burger King, is also among the group.
The funds will be used to build operational capacity to help Ando expand delivery across New York City.
“Mobile technology has completely transformed our daily lives, and it’s certainly impacting the overall dining experience with the ease of delivery,” Chang said in a statement.
The company also indicated an interest in taking its offerings beyond New York.
“Our goal is to grow our menu offerings and expand beyond New York, creating delicious food and pushing the limits of delivery,” Hooman Radfar, co-founder and CEO of Ando, said in a statement.
The deal is a first for Chang, who has avoided taking on venture capital. He called Ando “a very special case, since we’ve always wanted to do delivery with Momofuku.”
Chang’s Momofuku and Expa, a San Francisco-based startup lab created by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, launched Ando in the spring.
Momofuku provides the food made famous at its restaurants, such as ginger shrimp salad, chicken tenders and spicy tofu, and the culinary and back-of-house expertise. Expa provides the logistical, technical and startup background, along with delivery capabilities.
Ando recently expanded its delivery zone to include Midtown East and parts of Midtown West in Manhattan, while increasing its services from lunch to include dinner hours. It also introduced a web app and unveiled Ando Labs, which lets customers order and review food items still in development stages.
“The concept of Ando was planned many years ago, and we waited until we found the perfect partner, Expa, that had the right technology and logistics to deliver quality food that, when delivered, is as good or more delicious than something in a restaurant,” Chang said. “Now through the Ando platform, we’re starting to understand the consumer experience better, and when we understand how the consumer eats the food and wants the food, then we can cook it better as well.”
The deal continues a trend toward venture funding in the restaurant industry, and in particular delivery concepts and those that demonstrate a more unique approach to the food business.
While Ando remains a New York-centric concept, the idea of delivery is rapidly expanding across the country, and there are a growing number of delivery-only concepts, particularly in heavily urbanized areas.
Ando guarantees items to taste delicious and fresh once delivered. Dishes are put through “rigorous testing” to ensure consistent quality. The company monitors various factors, including ingredients, temperature, weather and customer feedback, while developing each item.
Ando also uses data and analytics to examine how customers order food, how efficiently the kitchen is moving and the effectiveness of delivery partners.
“The food delivery space is growing, evolving and adapting to accommodate a new generation of consumers that wants authenticity, consistent quality and a personal connection to a brand,” Radfar said.