Foodtech Startup KitchData Helps Eateries Launch Celebrity-Branded Menus
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of LA’s rising startups from last quarter here.
* * *
Imagine if ordering a meal through DoorDash resulted in a chance to interact with your favorite celebrity. If a restaurant integrates software from Kitchen Data Systems — or KitchData for short — consumers across the country could gain access to this and other exclusive opportunities.
KitchData works with brick-and-mortar restaurants to help them launch virtual, delivery-first brands in partnership with celebrities, sports teams, influencers and other pop culture icons. The platform’s goal is to create experiences that connect a celebrity’s existing culture with food.
So far, KitchData has launched four of these brands including Wooooo! Wings by professional wrestler Ric Flair. It’s also behind Powerbomb Pizza, DaMandyz Donutz and Dancing Pizza. These brands are currently available in more than 20 states across the country.
KitchData’s solution helps its customers create and scale their virtual food brand, from crafting menu offerings with the help of KitchData’s chef to designing a logo and developing a marketing strategy. From there, the software matches brands with restaurants in KitchData’s partner network that are capable of preparing that kind of food. The last step is launching the brand on apps like DoorDash and UberEats, and helping the brand track sales and manage its finances.
I really do believe that this celebrity experience ... is a part of the future of the restaurant industry.”
The platform was developed as a way to help restaurants, particularly new businesses, grow. When it comes to launching a restaurant, several factors make the process costly and risky. A key culprit is the industry’s ongoing labor shortage coupled with the heightened cost of ingredients due to inflation. KitchData’s purchasing infrastructure allows small restaurants to purchase ingredients at lower prices, equal to those that larger businesses would pay, according to the company.
“I love helping the restaurants,” Mike Jacobs, KitchData co-founder and CEO, told Built In. “As someone who’s launched restaurants in the past, saving them on every item that they purchase and leveling the playing field between a small business and [an] international global business is extremely cool.”
The KitchData platform was developed by Jacobs and co-founder and COO Jonathan Hung. Jacobs said that working in the food and beverage industry has run in his family for centuries. He was the first one in a long line to branch out and enter the tech space, but he ultimately ended up circling back to his roots by developing foodtech inventions.
Before KitchData, Jacobs had a hand in developing solutions like Tapin2, an in-seat food delivery app for places like sports arenas and concert venues; OrderMark, a tablet-based online ordering platform for back-of-house restaurant staff; and Nextbite, a system powered by Ordermark that allows restaurants to cook food for online-only brands.
In his latest venture, Jacobs is taking this concept a step further. In addition to helping restaurants beef up their revenue streams, KitchData is developing Web3 components that will connect its celebrity partners’ fans to unique brands and exclusive perks.
“One of the biggest problems with virtual brands right now is a very low reorder rate,” Jacobs said. “They’re not really capturing the hearts and minds of the consumers. So for us, I see it as more of a loyalty or affinity program where we’re combining what the celebrity or the brand’s already doing [with food].”
Since each partner already has an established fanbase, KitchData can help them monetize that fan engagement. The company is partnering with Harmony blockchain to include features such as SMS crypto wallets for consumers. Fans could also gain access to discounted merchandise, exclusive content and gated interactions with the brands, such as joining a Discord channel.
“I really do believe that this celebrity experience when people are ordering is a part of the future of the restaurant industry that’s definitely not going away,” Jacobs said. “Helping those individuals extend their brands into food in a manner that’s great for the industry is why I’m waking up at four or five in the morning and getting started.”