Friday Funding: How Wonder is Looking to Transform Takeout
In the suburbs of northern New Jersey, outside New York City, a new startup is making meals for hungry families. Rather than operate out of a restaurant or old school food truck, Wonder operates as a sort of hybrid. Its meals are partially cooked in a central kitchen and then loaded into Mercedes (DMLRY) vans.
Once on the road, Wonder’s “chefs-on-the-road” finish the meals and deliver them to homes. The gray and beet-colored vans are a common sight around dinner time in certain neighborhoods. Recipes from 20 different restaurants are on Wonder’s menu, with delivery to your front porch in around 40 minutes.
Fundraising and Valuation
Wonder’s most recent funding round valued the company at $3.5 billion. That includes a $350 million Series B raise that was announced in June. Now the company is looking to expand and send thousands of its trucks nationwide.
The company has also secured off-premises rights to some big names in the restaurant industry, such as seafood specialist Daisuke Nakazawa and celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Wonder says its food is preferable to traditional takeout because it doesn’t arrive lukewarm or soggy. Its chefs use special ovens to blast heat at the partially finished meals, while vacuum-sealed foods are cooked in heated water baths. The finished product is delivered to the customer’s door piping hot.
Some of Wonder’s loudest critics are focused on one big complaint: the noise. Neighbors say the company’s vans are noisy and tend to idle in one place for a half hour or longer as meals are prepared. There’s also the issue of air pollution given Wonder uses diesel trucks. CEO Scott Hilton says the plan is to eventually move to an electric fleet.
For now, Wonder has around 200 vans at its disposal. The goal is to expand that into the thousands by 2025. In certain New Jersey neighborhoods the vans are commonly seen on roadways, boosting brand awareness. Wonder undoubtedly hopes that translates to word of mouth — and more satisfied customers.
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