Are you hungry? That’s exactly what Ele.Me is asking you in the form of its short and memorable name. You might be looking at what UberEATS is doing with its meal delivery service in Toronto or New York, but if you’re in the world’s single largest market, you’re probably ordering lunch through Ele.Me’s more than 10,000 drivers and support staff that cover over 260 Chinese cities. Ele.Me has now managed to raise a US $630 Million round to further expand its service across China!
Started 7 years ago by then graduate students Kang Jia and Zhang Xuhao, Ele.Me has come a long way since its humble beginnings as an idea that came from necessity. Xuhao and Jia didn’t have time to go to nearby restaurants while they were playing games, so they ordered lunch to be delivered. As the story goes, the two talked that night about how they could start their own food delivery business to make it easier for people like themselves to order food online. In the years since then, the duo has managed to expand Ele.Me to serve over 40 million users in hundreds of cities, partnering in the process with over 300.000 restaurants around China.
The new investment is series F funding for Ele.Me and is led by CITIC Capital and the Chinese supermarket chain Hualia. While Hong Kong-based CITIC Capital manages $4.6 billion of capital from a diverse group of both Chinese and international investors, The Beijing Hualian Group is a leading Chinese retailer headquartered in Beijing that owns a number of supermarkets and department stores. While it’s obvious that Ele.Me will deliver hot meals sold at some of Hualian’s stores, it’s still not clear if you will be able to order other products and have them delivered by Ele.Me’s drivers.
Ele.Me already (obviously by the letter of the round) secured a billion dollars from well-known international investors, including $350 million in series E funding that included Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s most well-known venture investment organisations. Another Ele.Me strategic investor is Tencent, which wants to build out its online-to-offline strategy and whose rivals Alibaba and Baidu have already investment in other food delivery services. In total, Ele.Me is China’s third most-funded startup, securing $1.09 billion!
While there is still room to grow, Ele.Me’s co-founder and COO Kang Jia told the South China Morning Post that with the new capital they want to focus on the quality of service. The biggest complaint from customers, as Jia said, was the time it took for the food to be delivered. Jia and his partner want to make that complaint a thing of the past – so the new focus of the company is “instant deliveries”, a method by which Ele.Me wants to deliver the food not only on time, but also to ensure its optimal temperature and taste.
Ele.Me is going to have an interesting year, especially since it has successfully maintained relationships with not only local restaurants but also international brands such as Pizza Hut and Burger Hut. So, Ele.Me?
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