A start-up called Pilotworks wants to make it easier for food entrepreneurs to start a business, whether they seek to open a new restaurant, launch a catering empire, or formulate irresistible packaged snacks.
Acre Venture Partners, a fund backed solely by Campbell Soup, has led a $13 million investment in Pilotworks with Techstars and others, hoping it will become the WeWork of food and hospitality.
As Pilotworks CEO Nick Devane notes: "Food entrepreneurs need a lot more than a few desks and fast internet to start a business. We give them kitchens that are up to code, equipped with everything they need whether its dry storage or blast chillers. And we help them market and distribute what they make."
While co-working spaces for tech entrepreneurs abound thanks to WeWork, and other office leasing platforms, food makers previously had to strike up deals with restaurants, or navigate a fragmented industry to find available commissaries.
Devane considers Pilotworks a tech start-up as much as a food business, because it developed custom scheduling software and an online community for its members. These make it easy to book space and equipment at a Pilotworks kitchen, and to take advantage of industry mentors and workshops on-site.
Food start-ups aren't the only ones using the company's kitchens so far. Culinary schools have offered courses there, counting Pilotworks as a "pop-up" classroom.
The New York-based start-up intends to use its new funding for hiring, marketing and geographic expansion, Devane said. The company is expanding into Chicago and Dallas next.