Cloud kitchens became popular during the global pandemic as a way for restaurants to reach their communities when people were not going out as much.
One of those was Foodology, a Colombia-based cloud kitchen and virtual restaurant company, co-founded by Daniela Izquierdo and Juan Guillermo Azuero in 2019.
Unlike other kitchen groups that bring in existing restaurants, Foodology specializes in creating brands from scratch, then operating and scaling them quickly to profitability. They do this by collecting data on geography and what consumers like and then creating original dishes with delivery.
“In this region, we have a very fragmented market,” Izquierdo told TechCrunch. “When you look at the restaurant industry, 85% of restaurants are independent units. In the U.S. that number is 40%. Here, we have a lot of smaller players, especially in categories like traditional food.”
When I spoke with the co-founders in 2021, they had just raised $15 million in Series A funding and were operating about 20 locations in Colombia and Mexico. They saw an average of 100,000 orders per month in Colombia and had about 360 employees.
Today, the company is also in Peru and Brazil, having launched in those markets in March. And it’s back with $50 million in funding, which includes $20 million in equity and $30 million in debt.
Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Wollef and Kayyak, along with new investors, like Chimera and Reggaeton icon Juan Luis Londoño, better known as “Maluma,” were among the new investors in the equity portion. As part of the investment, Londoño will be launching his own digital brand with Foodology. Meanwhile, the debt was provided by TriplePoint Capital.
In the last 12 months, Foodology expanded to 83 locations and is poised to be around 100 by the end of the year, Azuero told TechCrunch. Meanwhile, monthly orders have doubled, as did its core brands, growing from four to eight, and include burritos, pizza and Chinese, Izquierdo said in an interview.
The global virtual kitchen market was valued at just over $43 billion in 2019 and is poised to grow to $71.4 billion by 2030, according to Statista figures. Cloud kitchens concepts, also referred to as ghost kitchens, are gaining footholds all over the world, as well as investor attention.
Just this year, for example, CloudEats raised a $7 million Series A extension to grow in Southeast Asia, while The Food Lab took in $4.5 million in pre-seed funding to provide cloud kitchen services in Egypt. Over in Manilla, MadEats grabbed $1.7 million in funding and Saltalk in the U.S. raised $8 million.
Up next, Foodology will continue its expansion in Brazil, which Izquierdo said was 10x the size of the market in Colombia.
“We will focus on getting to a higher density of kitchens, especially in Brazil, where we only just got there,” she added. “We have a long, long way to go in expanding there and making the most of all of our markets.”