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"We Got Funded!" UAE-Based Foodtech Startup ChatFood Secures US$3 Million In A Bridge Round As It Expands Into Saudi Arabia As a platform that enables mobile ordering and marketing solutions for hospitality brands, ChatFood hopes to capitalize on advantageous social media trends in Saudi Arabia.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed Edited by Aalia Ahmed

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Vinicius Rodrigues, co-founder and CTO, and Benjamin Mouflard, co-founder and CEO, ChatFood

ChatFood, a UAE-based omnichannel ordering and data-driven marketing platform, has secured US$3 million in a bridge round led by global early-stage venture capital firm Antler, with a reserved amount for its key strategic partners in Saudi Arabia.

Other participants in the round included 6G Capital, the family office arm of India-based agro commodities company Allana Group, as well as existing investors such as Zinal Growth, the family office of founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz.

With this round, ChatFood has amassed a total of $7 million in funding so far, following a seed round led by UAE-based venture capital funds BECO Capital and Wamda Capital in 2021. As a platform that enables mobile ordering and marketing solutions for hospitality brands, ChatFood is now looking to capitalize on social media trends that could prove to be advantageous to the firm- and its first target is Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia has the largest social media presence in the world, with active social media users standing at 25 million, an incredible 72% of the population," Benjamin Mouflard, co-founder and CEO, ChatFood, said. "We're also glad to have recently been recognized as an official WhatsApp commerce partner, and together with our existing Instagram integration, we would like to be the pioneers of seamless social media food ordering in the market."

But digital trends aside, with a hospitality industry that, as per a 2022 Mordor Intelligence report, is predicted to be grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.4% over the next 5 years, Mouflard and his team are also looking to introduce more extensive product development initiatives in the country. "The hospitality and event scene is booming in Saudi- large dine-in venues, hotels and events are launching every month," Mouflard said. "With rising food costs and shortage of F&B talent and labor force, they will rely on digital tools to unlock efficiencies while still offering memorable experiences. In the next 18 months, we therefore aim to have more than 300 leading venues with a digitized ordering and payment system."

Related: "We Got Funded!" UAE-Based Cartlow Raises US$18 Million Series A Round With The Aim To Dominate The MENA Region's Recommerce Ecosystem

Source: ChatFood

Having already enabled over 3,000 hospitality venues across the Middle East to drive more than $100 million in sales, as well as converted over 1 million platform visitors into direct customers, ChatFood has recorded an impressive 260% year-on-year growth so far. A new feature, ChatFood's near field technology/quick response code (NFC/QR) ordering system has also been able to deliver 35% higher average spend, three times more tips, and 25% more labor efficiency for its partners.

It is these kinds of achievements that particularly caught the attention of the team at Antler- and eventually led to its investment in the firm. "Creating a single platform that combines digital ordering, payments, logistics, analytics, and marketing offers up an invaluable proposition," Christopher Dix, Global Capital Director and Head of MENAP at Antler, said. "ChatFood at its core enables F&B and hospitality operators to improve margins and run their venues more efficiently, whilst also ensuring an optimal customer experience– a mutualistic solution across the board. We believe ChatFood is the right team to build the leading omnichannel ordering and payments solution, and look forward to helping them cement their MENAP leadership position against an exciting and ever-evolving regional backdrop."

As ChatFood now hopes to emulate its past successes in upcoming endeavors, Mouflard remains aware of the need to stay atop digital shifts in the ecosystem. "The MENA -the GCC countries in particular- has the largest youth population in the world, and this is a generation of digital natives who are tech savvy and value convenience above all else," he noted. "With the funding, we aim to equip more businesses with the technology they need to cater to this changing demographic. Digital and alternative payment methods are becoming the norm, so we will continue to support our partners in meeting their customers' preferred payment methods."

And amid the fresh capital influx and all the focus on digitization, Mouflard remains wary of one very visceral aspect to ChatFood's next phase. "Personalization and human touch go a long way with today's consumers, so we will also use the funding to further invest in our product's built-in marketing tools for engaging with customers and driving loyalty on a personal level," he concluded.

Related: Marketing Your Restaurant In A Digitally Competitive World: The How-To

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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