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Despite a growing appetite for on-demand delivery, it's a crowded plate. But one San Francisco based start-up aims to stand out with its new take on takeout.
Bento delivers Japanese cuisine curbside. Customers order and customize their meals via a mobile app, and the food shows up within minutes.
CEO Jason Demant said: "This is the product I wanted to order every day. It didn't exist, so we built it."
Demant loves Asian food. So much so, he created Bento.
A "bento" is a common Japanese meal served in a box-shaped container. It typically comes with a protein, vegetables and rice.
Demant's version of the bento box has one main dish, along with four sides, which customers choose through the free iOS app. Entrée choices change daily, and range from Mongolian beef to pad Thai. "Top Chef" contestant Mattin Noblia creates the menu out of a commercial kitchen in San Francisco. This is also where the team prepares and cooks the food. Each meal costs $12, plus tax and tip.
Customers can track their orders and Demant told CNBC the average delivery time takes 15 minutes. When the driver arrives on location, he or she assembles the containers of food into Bento's specially designed box.
But it's this on-site assembly that could be problematic. Alicia Syrett, a board member of New York Angels, said she's worried about Bento's ability to comply with food-safety and sanitation standards.
Demant stressed that once food leaves the kitchen the driver doesn't open the containers. He added: "That's how our whole system is built and modeled. We've gone through all the necessary regulations with the San Francisco Health Department and any cities we expand to in the future, we'll do the same."
Nikhil Kalghatgi, a partner at Vast Ventures, questioned how Bento expects to compete with other on-demand food players.
Demant said that unlike its competitors, Bento let's people customize every part of their meal. "You're really getting the exact meal that you want," he said.
For now, Bento only delivers in San Francisco, but the CEO told CNBC the start-up has plans to expand to Oakland and Palo Alto by the end of this year.
The company launched in March 2015 and has raised $325,000. Bento is seeking $1 million in its seed round and currently has seven employees.
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