Meal delivery services can save time, and typically money, but imagine getting a Michelin-star meal delivered to your home.
Enter meal delivery startup Entrée. Jon Bell and Jason Weingarten launched in Chicago last July with a Michelin-trained culinary team — led by Alex Carnovale of The French Laundry — preparing restaurant-quality meals that are packaged in recyclable and plastic-neutral packaging so that food doesn’t arrive soggy or cold. Most items are ready to eat in minutes.
Bell and Weingarten aren’t your typical meal delivery startup founders. They both have software backgrounds, with Bell previously working at Netflix as a global product lead while Weingarten was building education-related software.
They’ve crafted Entrée’s menu to have between 30 and 50 items on it in any given month that include global cuisines under the categories of breakfast, meals for two, desserts and a beverage program that includes craft cocktails. Entrée’s app is currently on the App Store.
It adds about two new offerings per week and are priced around 30% to 50% lower than restaurant equivalents. The company also includes some ambiance, including curated playlists, a virtual maître d’ and coloring sheets for kids.
Eight months after the company launched, the concept is catching on, Bell told TechCrunch. Entrée has over 1,000 users and brings in tens of thousands in revenue each month. In addition, the average order volume is over $60 and the reorder rate is more than 40% within 30 days, Weingarten said in an interview.
“Consistent average order volume north of $60 which is fairly high from what we’ve seen for other delivery services,” Weingarten said. “It’s been really exciting for us to see folks not just necessarily order the same thing, but order something different each time and tenuously post ratings and feedback. We have multiple patrons who have ordered from us over 20 times.”
Entrée is operating in a crowded U.S. prepared meals market that was valued at $156.3 billion in 2022. And there are lots of venture-backed players. For example, Daily Harvest, Instacart, Positive Foods, Splendid Spoon, Prado, DishDivvy and Shef have all raised funding in the past few years for their meal delivery approaches to everything from plant-based to homemade meals.
Now Entrée itself is announcing $2.5 million in pre-seed funding led by M25 with participation from investors, including Hustle Fund, Pillar VC and The Community Fund.
The new funding, closed last month, will help the 14-employee company expand outside Chicago, beginning in 2024, said Bell, who was mum on the next locations. It will also go to technology development as Entrée works to add an Android app and new features like “coming soon” and referral programs.
In addition, the company is working on the speed and pace at which it comes out with new items to meet the demand from users who often ask what new dishes will be made available in coming weeks.
“We have felt it’s really important to build a differentiated experience,” Bell said. “We own the full stack and continue to do development there. We’re continuing to invest in world-class culinarians and increasing the pace of our menu development as well as experimenting with different finishing methods, including new distribution channels and approaches that we’re experimenting with.”