Casper, a ghost kitchen chain in Ghent, Belgium, announced on Wednesday that it has raised €5M in a Series A round of funding.
The company claims that, unlike other ghost kitchens, Casper is visible in the streets: no shuttered windows in the back street, but open and transparent locations, with clear and recognisable branding, technology to place walk-in orders, and waiting areas for the delivery riders.
Investors in this round
The round was led by Amsterdam-based Slingshot Ventures, together with serial entrepreneurs Jürgen Ingels (Smartfin), and Zhong Xu and Jan Hollez (Deliverect).
Tanja Kramer, Principal at Slingshot Ventures, says, “We are excited to support Casper in its mission to change the online food purchasing experience and to become part of this impressive growth story. The dark kitchen market is growing rapidly, fueled by the fast adoption of online food ordering and the rise of on-demand food delivery apps. Especially Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly accustomed to ordering food from delivery-only restaurants. Casper is well-positioned to grow its presence internationally. We are impressed by the relentless focus on customer satisfaction, food quality and operational excellence of Matthias and his team.”
Amsterdam-based Slingshot Ventures is a VC fund focused on investing in the future of digital consumer life, from pre-Seed up to Series A and beyond. The firm claims to invest in the next generation of ‘successful’ entrepreneurs, who are building companies with strong brands, happy customers and healthy margins.
Some of Slingshot’s portfolio companies include The Fabricant (digital fashion house), Chronext (a digital platform for luxury watches), Boldking (online care products for men), and Naduvi (a digital outlet for home and living), among others.
“Belgium’s hybrid kitchen pioneer”
Founded in 2020 by Matthias Laga, Zhong Xu, and Peter Van Praet, Casper is a hybrid delivery and take out-only restaurant, a so-called ghost kitchen or dark kitchen. The company sells 10 quality virtual brands for different tastes, and claims they are reasonably priced and sustainably packaged.
Casper’s customers can order from a variety of 10 virtual restaurants, either through delivery or takeout. The menu includes Gloria’s baked pasta and Barney’s burgers to healthy salads, bagels, or a completely vegan brand in collaboration with The Vegetarian Butcher. One can also place an order directly through the virtual restaurant or via Casper, where one can mix and match these different brands into 1 order with 1 delivery.
Besides, the company also has a zero-waste policy and strives to work with local suppliers. Casper’s meals are delivered at the customers’ door or ready for takeaway within 30 minutes. This is done with the help of the company’s process-driven production kitchens where technology, food, and operations are in balance.
In this whole process, product quality is key. The restaurant chain works with marketplaces such as Just Eat Takeaway, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. In 2021, the company witnessed its turnover grow by 210 per cent and processed over 230,000 dishes.
Casper’s chain of hybrid kitchens is currently active in Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven, Brussels, Liège, and Bruges.
The company says, as of Q3, it will also be present in multiple locations in the Netherlands (The Hague, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht) and France (Lille), while Luxembourg will follow in Q4. By Q2, 2024 Casper plans to operate out of 50 international locations.
Matthias Laga says, “Thanks to this funding we will be able to accelerate our expansion into new markets and meet the continuous and growing demand for convenience. It is our belief that the combination of our delivery-proof offering with a perfectly balanced fusion of tech expertise, building hospitality brands and operational excellence is the best way to do so.”
“We will be opening new locations in the Benelux and France and by 2024 we plan to have 50 international locations. It’s an ambitious plan, but we are ready for it. Good thing we’re not afraid to take on big challenges; they give the best rewards!,” adds Laga.