We Got Funded: Bahrain Foodtech Startup Calo Raises US$13.5 Million In Seed Funding Round

Its new funding will be used to fuel Calo's expansion into the GCC, recruit talent in different areas, and invest more resources in executing its product roadmap.

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Calo, a Bahrain-based direct-to-consumer (D2C) foodtech company offering personalized meal subscription, has successfully raised US$13.5 million in a seed funding round co-led by Khwarizmi Ventures, Nuwa Capital, and STV.

Calo team

It also included the participation of Al Faisaliah Group, Vision Ventures, 500 Startups, Savour Ventures and Nama Ventures, as well as other angel investors. It has been noted as one of the largest seed rounds raised by a D2C foodtech startup across the world.

Founded in 2019 by Ahmed Alrawi and Moayed Almoayed, Calo provides personalized meal subscription plans to health-conscious customers. Its app automatically calculates the calories and macronutrients that customers need and delivers ready-to-eat meals tailored to their fitness goals. According to a release, since its launch, the startup has gained strong traction in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, with the company saying that when it began operations in Riyadh earlier this year, the app had “thousands on its waiting list.”

Obesity, which has hit a record high in the region according to a 2020 study by the World Obesity Federation, is an aspect that Alrawi, CEO of Calo, wants to tackle. “Today, about a third of the GCC population is obese, and diabetes cases in the Middle East are expected to rise by 110% by 2045," he says. "Our mission is to make healthy easy, and we believe the only way to do is by making healthy food better, faster, and cheaper.”

Besides its user-friendly app, Calo is vertically integrated as the startup utilizes a distinct technology structure for its kitchen and logistics operations. This allows the startup to offer end-to-end customer journey by developing and delivering personalized meals, catering for each user’s food preferences, health conditions and fitness goals. This is how Calo stands out, Alrawi points out.

“We’re a tech startup at heart," he explains. "Most companies in the industry are traditional food companies, while Calo is a tech-first, food-second startup, allowing us to build tech that's involved from an ingredient-sourcing level, all the way to the delivery experience. That in turn also helps us optimize and scale the experience with data, making it better for the consumer.”

Source: Calo

Being a D2C venture that is vertically integrated allows the company to invest more in food quality and personalization, says Alrawi. “It also helps us design the customer journey end-to-end, from sign-up to delivery. While food delivery marketplaces solve a clear growing problem, we see a clear gap for a digitally-native startup that designs around the consumer from end-to-end.”

As for Calo’s future prospects, Alrawi states that its new funding will be used to fuel Calo’s expansion into the GCC, recruit talent in different areas, and invest more resources in executing its product roadmap. With a focus on expansion, product development, and technology, Alrawi says, “We’re looking to grow the number of markets we operate in, as well as the number of customers we serve in the existing markets. At the same time, we’re excited to scale our product to provide more convenience, personalization, and options for our users.”

INVESTOR’S VIEW: Ahmad Alshammari, General Partner at STV

Why did STV decide to invest in Calo? 

"When we met with Ahmed and Moayed, we were not only impressed by their product and commercial expertise; but their obsession with providing a delightful customer experience. Customers love it and you can see this by the reviews on the app as well as traction achieved in Saudi and Bahrain in such a short time. Moreover, we are excited about the market. Regional obesity and diabetes levels are high with consumers regularly having to choose between convenience and health. With Calo, consumers don’t need to compromise, they can have both.  We believe Calo is the leader in this category and we are excited to partner with them on this journey."

Related: Entrepreneur Middle East Publishes Report Looking Into The GCC's US$3 Billon Cloud Kitchen Industry