Investor Appetite for Colombian Foodtechs Continues Despite Downturn

Amid the crisis that has hit many startups in Latin America, capital continues to flow into Colombian foodtech, with Cluvi and RobinFood among those raising financing rounds

Cluvi's team, comprising William García (CTO), Mario Barajas (CLO), Fabián Carrillo (CEO), Pedro Chaparro (Head Mobile) and Manuel Vanegas (COO).
June 10, 2022 | 09:20 AM

Bogotá — Despite the economic headwinds buffeting Latin America that have resulted in a wave of layoffs by startups, investments in the Colombian foodtech segment continue.

Colombian startup Cluvi, which has digitized more than 3,000 restaurants in five Latin American countries, raised $2.5 million from investors including Cometa and FEMSA Ventures, the venture capital fund of the world’s largest Coca Cola bottler, among others.

Cluvi’s investment round, which has already raised more than $2.7 million, also involved angel investors such as Carolina García, co-founder of Chiper.

PUBLICIDAD

The foodtech Cluvi expects to increase the base of active restaurants on its platform and reach sales of more than $50 million by December.

With some $185.4 million raised in recent years in Colombia, foodtech companies in the country are consolidating their position as one of the most dynamic and powerful segments of the local startup ecosystem, with success stories such as Frubana and RobinFood.

It is estimated that there are a little more than 30 foodtechs operating in the country, and which employ around 820 people.

However, such companies have not been immune to the economic downturn, and a a senior executive of one of them, who asked to remain anonymous, told Bloomberg Línea they are closely watching the wave of layoffs.

PUBLICIDAD

For his part, Cluvi’s CEO Fabián Carrillo told Bloomberg Línea that “it is a reality that the complexity of capital raising has increased, and what is happening is that startups that have business models with fundamentals will have a better chance of raising capital. This was the case of Cluvi, we have a business with important clients that reduce the risks, and we have a panorama closer to profitability”.

According to Carrillo, “the key is to be very organized with finances, and to have a very controlled burn rate [the speed at which they burn their available capital]. We believe that growth goes hand in hand with profitability. One of the measures is to set a limit on the burn rate, and not exceed that limit each month, which gives us more time to survive this winter”.

Currently, the company has operations in Brazil, Peru, Salvador, Panama and Colombia, where it offers digital tools for customer service in restaurants, including smart menus at the table, a home delivery system and reservations.

With this new capital injection, the company plans to expand its international presence, and will soon enter the Mexican market, where it intends to digitize more than 600 restaurants in Mexico City in the first three months.

It also plans to develop a new tool that will allow diners to pay their bill directly from their cellphone, accessing benefits such as discounts and cashback.

“Users will have the opportunity to accumulate points every time they eat at a restaurant, and exchange them for different culinary experiences,” Carrillo said.

PUBLICIDAD

At the end of May, Colombian foodtech RobinFood, with operations in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, raised $32 million to help it expand in Latin America, the company’s founders told Bloomberg Línea.

The round was led by investors such as Blue Like and Orange Sustainable Capital (BLAO), Palm Drive Capital and Minerva Capital.

José Guillermo Calderón, CEO of RobinFood, said that this latest round will allow them to continue strengthening their presence in Colombia, where they have more than 57 points of sale, while contributing to position themselves in Brazil and Mexico.

RobinFood, which works with the brands MUY, Pixi, Pecado Natural, Tremendo, Tributo, Yin Yamm and FoodCoins, has in the past obtained support from funds such as ALLVP in Mexico, Seaya in Spain, Endeavor Catalyst and 14W in the United States.

Translated from the Spanish by Adam Critchley