Blank Street — a Brooklyn-based, 14-unit coffee chain that debuted in 2020 — has secured $25 million in Series A funding led by investors General Catalyst and Tiger Global, the company announced Wednesday. Other investors include Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa (Warby Parker), Jeff Raider (Warby Parker and Harry’s), Joey Zwillinger (Allbirds) and global real estate firm Tishman Speyer.
Following a $7 million seed fundraiser earlier this year, this round, the funds will be used to help realize Blank Street’s ambitious growth plans of opening 100 locations in New York City by 2022.
Blank Street opened its first location (a mobile coffee cart) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in August 2020 and quickly expanded by 13 more locations throughout New York City, with a mix of coffee carts and what they call micro retail locations that are about one-quarter the size of an average café. The mobile carts operate in partnership with EV Foods, producing zero gas emissions and zero noise pollution.
With such a small footprint size, Blank Street can tout its relatively low prices compared with coffee chain competitors. Blank Street claims its prices are 20-30% lower than Starbucks and on par with Dunkin’. A Blank Street cappuccino is $3.50, while a Starbucks cappuccino in the same market might cost over $4.
“Our big idea was to shrink our location footprint to save money on real estate to invest in other places, like quality products at lower prices and new technology to increase speed and convenience,” Vinay Menda, cofounder of Blank Street Coffee told Restaurant Hospitality. “What makes our model work is density.”
Blank Street embraces its identity as a micro-retail marketplace, carrying local brands like Parlor Coffee, Gertie bagels, King Street Baking Co., and King David Tacos.
“Our goal is to have multiple locations in one neighborhood, versus just one, to increase our brand awareness,” Menda said.
This latest round of funding will do more than just allow for major retail expansion: Blank Street is also debuting its wholesale retail partnership program called “Powered by Blank Street,” which will allow retailers to sell their products without having to build a new storefront. They will be debuting this partnership with King David Tacos. “KDT Powered by Blank Street” mobile carts will be rolling into multiple New York City neighborhoods, selling both KDT’s popular breakfast tacos alongside Blank Street coffee.
Blank Street has already embraced an on-the-go experience with an order-ahead, mobile payment and rewards app, which they say accounts for 20% of transactions. With the latest round of funding, they expect to expand their app’s capabilities as more local vendors come on board.
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