All posts in “France Newsletter”

ezCater acquires GoCater to expand beyond the US

Catering marketplace company ezCater is already putting its big $100 million funding round to good use. The company is acquiring GoCater, a European marketplace that operates in the same field. This is ezCater’s first international expansion move.

If you’re in charge of ordering catered lunch at your office, you probably have heard about ezCater . The company lets you order breakfast, lunch or dinner for 10, 30 or maybe 100 people at once. This service could be particularly useful to impress a client, throw an office party, get lunch together during an off-site and more.

But ezCater doesn’t cook anything itself. The company is a marketplace and connects you with catering companies and big restaurants around you. In other words, ezCater lets you browse the menu of dozens of restaurants around you from the same website and place an order without picking up the phone.

Of course, ezCater didn’t invent catering. But catering is a fragmented industry with a lot of friction. It’s hard to know how much you’re going to pay in advance, it takes a lot of effort to find a new restaurant outside of your usual list. And restaurants could use a new way to promote their offering. Those are the perfect ingredients to create an online marketplace.

You may already know all the options around your office, but ordering through ezCater provides additional benefits. For instance, all your receipts are centralized in the same interface, which lets you get a clear overview of your spendings on catering.

You can also let other people order food for their clients and events. ezCater lets you set maximum amounts, tipping policies and more.

GoCater offers more or less the same thing, but in France and Germany. The company started as a spinoff from French startup La Belle Assiette. GoCater lets you create a whitelist of catering options. You can also set up an approval system so that the intern doesn’t order ice creams for everyone. Finally, GoCater clients only get billed once per month, even if companies order multiple times.

You pay the same price if you order through GoCater or the catering company directly. Catering companies end up paying a cut on GoCater orders. But the startup takes care of billing, accounting and accounts receivable. This way, you can focus on your core business instead of chasing money from past clients.

ezCater is an order of magnitude bigger than GoCater. ezCater works with 60,000 restaurants, while GoCater only has a few hundred restaurants on its platform. It’s worth noting that ezCater has been around for much longer.

But GoCater has one big advantage over ezCater — they have a team on the ground in Europe, ready to attract new restaurants and corporate clients. It’s clear that ezCater was looking for a way to get started in Europe, and GoCater seems like the right fit.

For now, the company will keep both brands after the acquisition. The teams will slowly merge the platforms into a single product.

“The entire GoCater team is staying, and we’re now going to rapidly expand the European team of the company — both the sales team for Europe and the tech and product team for the group,” GoCater founder and CEO Stephen Leguillon told me.

Tempow’s Bluetooth stack can improve your TV setup

French startup Tempow has been working on improving the Bluetooth protocol at a low level to make it more versatile. The company is introducing a new audio profile for your TV or set-top box.

TV and set-top box manufacturers can license Tempow’s software and integrate new features in their devices. It works with regular Bluetooth chips, but it opens up new possibilities.

In particular, Tempow has been working on a one-to-many pairing model. You can pair multiple Bluetooth speakers with your TV to create a wireless surround system using good old Bluetooth speakers.

The reason why soundbars slowly replaced 5.1 systems is that you don’t have to run cables on the floor to the back speakers. Tempow solves that, and Bluetooth speakers are much cheaper than a bunch of Sonos speakers.

With Tempow’s stack, you can also stream different audio tracks to different devices. In other words, you could pair multiple headphones with your TV and watch a movie in different languages. If your kid is too young to read subtitles, you no longer need to make compromises.

You can also configure each speaker individually so that you can reproduce the same sound profile across the board, even if you’re using speakers from different brands.

The startup first worked on an audio profile for smartphones. For instance, if you have a Moto X4 phone, you can pair it with multiple Bluetooth speakers at once. With today’s news, the company is expanding beyond smartphones. But it’s still about Bluetooth.

Meero raises $45 million for its on-demand photography service

Have you ever wondered why photos on Airbnb, UberEats and your favorite hotel platform always look so good? French startup Meero has been working on a marketplace and AI-powered technology to make it easy to get good photos of products and places.

The company has raised a new $45 million round led by Alven Capital and Idinvest. Eight months ago, Meero already raised $15 million from Global Founders Capital, Aglaé Ventures, Alven Capital and White Star Capital.

“We focused on this idea because we wanted to make the web beautiful,” co-founder and CEO Thomas Rebaud told me last year. “We realized that we are all on Instagram and that photos are beautiful. But then, you go on a marketplace and photos aren’t great.”

The company first looked at the real estate market and partnered with real estate companies to optimize the photography process as much as possible.

It starts with finding a photographer. Instead of working with hundreds of photographers in hundreds of cities, Meero lets you find a photographer in over a hundred countries. Prices, contracts and processes are all standardized in order to avoid any surprise. Meero takes a cut on every transaction.

After the shooting, photographers usually have to spend hours selecting and editing the best photos. This usually takes even longer than the shooting itself.

Meero has been working on AI-powered algorithms so that you don’t have much to do. You upload your photos, and the service will automagically take care of the editing. By speeding up this process, a photographer can work on more projects. And Meero can also cut variable costs drastically — this is key when it comes to Meero’s scalability.

With today’s funding round, the startup is going to open new offices in the U.S. and somewhere in Asia. Meero will also hire more computer vision experts in France.

Meero currently has 40,000 clients and processes a new transaction every 30 seconds. Clients usually get photos within 24 hours. The company now also lets you order videos from the same platform.

Deliveroo opens its first shared kitchen in Paris

Food delivery startup Deliveroo opened its first shared kitchen in Paris earlier today. Deliveroo first launched this concept of shared kitchens called Deliveroo Editions in London last year.

As the AFP reports, the company is starting with 12 kitchens in a warehouse in Saint-Ouen, right next to the north-western part of Paris. So far, 8 restaurants have agreed to make a deal with Deliveroo.

You’ll find top restaurants on Deliveroo, such as Blend, Petit Cambodge, Tripletta and Santosha. Restaurants can choose to pay a rent or get started for free and pay higher fees.

Deliveroo customers currently pay €2.50 per order for the delivery in Paris. But the company also gets a cut of the total order amount — customers don’t realize that Deliveroo gets a cut from both sides. It can be as much as 25 or 30 percent of what you order. It’s unclear how much Deliveroo is asking for those new kitchens.

But it makes sense for restaurants that can’t expand indefinitely. Deliveroo lets you accept orders without any additional table.

Gérard Julien / AFP / Getty Images

While there are multiple Blend or Petit Cambodge restaurants in Paris, they can’t deliver everywhere around the city. But opening a new restaurant also represents a huge investment.

That’s why those Deliveroo kitchens can be a good compromise. You can hire a handful of people and see if there’s enough demand in the area. It’s also a good way to differentiate Deliveroo from UberEats and other compatitors.

This is the first site in France. Let’s see if it gets out of control like in the U.K. The Guardian reported that Deliveroo Editions are now tiny containers with no window on car parks. It gets hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and you can hear a ton of mopeds getting orders from those metal boxes.

Deliveroo first started with the idea of helping regular restaurants accept online orders — not just pizza places with existing delivery persons. But containers on a car park don’t sound as attractive.

Gérard Julien / AFP / Getty Images

ISAI closes new $175 million fund

French venture capital firm ISAI just raised a new $175 million fund (€150 million) called ISAI Expansion II. This fund is designed for later stage investments.

The firm says that it managed to raise this fund in less than three months. This is a growth fund and the team plans to invest between $6 million and $35 million per deal (between €5 million and €30 million).

ISAI first started with a seed fund back in 2010. The company raised a $41 million fund (€35 million) and invested in BlaBlaCar shortly after that. The firm has raised a growth fund and another seed fund since then.

If you include today’s new fund, ISAI has raised over $350 million in total (€300 million). So ISAI Expansion II is by far the biggest fund to date.

Limited partners include dozens of successful tech entrepreneurs as well as institutional partners. Many existing investors invested once again in ISAI’s new fund. Some entrepreneurs joined the list for the first time.

With the previous ISAI Expansion fund, the firm invested in nine companies over five years. And ISAI already sold its shares in two companies, Hospimedia and Labelium.

ISAI also says that it can help entrepreneurs using owner buy-out transactions. By creating a holding company, this type of operations lets entrepreneurs cash out, buy shares from existing minor investors and work with a new investor.

More interestingly, ISAI doesn’t necessarily want to focus on Paris-based tech startups. The firm is also looking for investments in more traditional companies that aren’t yet taking advantage of digital opportunities.