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On-demand food delivery has made for a funding bonanza.
From Instacart's latest $220 million round and Blue Apron's $135 million financing in June to the brand new UberEATS, there's a seemingly infinite number of ways to get cash-rich start-ups to bring you food.
One company is trying to prove that there's a leaner way. ZeroCater, which acts as a matchmaker between local food vendors and businesses that want to feed their employees, has raised a mere $1.5 million in its four years on the market.
With that, the San Francisco-based company said on Wednesday that it's facilitated $100 million in sales and is serving tens of thousands of meals per day.
ZeroCater doesn't have its own fleet of delivery people. Rather it takes orders from companies including Google, Nissan and Salesforce.com, and has the taco shop, food truck or barbecue joint on the other end do all the cooking and delivery. ZeroCater takes a cut of every transaction.
Arram Sabeti, who bootstrapped the business for two years before officially launching in 2011, said he gets cold calls from venture capitalists every week looking to invest. He just hasn't found a compelling reason to say yes.
"One school says if the money is there you should take it," said Sabeti. "We'd need a specific plan to convert that money into growth."
According to CB Insights, one-third of venture-backed companies in the food-delivery industry took in their first round of funding in the past year.
ZeroCater got its start in the Bay Area, largely working with other start-ups that Sabeti met while in Y Combinator. The company has since started serving in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Sabeti said the company is being very deliberate in its geographic growth. Good Eggs, a start-up designed to bring farmers market food to your door, shuttered its New York operation this month, acknowledging in a blog post that it "made a mistake in expanding it as quickly as we did without perfecting the model first."
ZeroCater has "historically been very conservative opening new markets," Sabeti said.
While Sabeti is by no means ruling out raising a bigger sum of money, he said that cash isn't the biggest constraint right now. Rather, it's finding the right people in a market with so many emerging companies. Sabeti said he's interviewed 40 candidates for the role of vice president of marketing, but hasn't met the right fit.
"The really tricky thing is not getting money anymore," Sabeti said. "The really tricky thing is getting great talent."