The Investibles: Pronto’s 'full stack' food delivery service

Pronto
Pronto
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Pronto have a mission to feed millions on Londoners with high-quality grub. What started as a delivery service pivoted by developing their own menu and kitchen, allowing them to get food from farm to fork “faster than anyone else”. The founder told us about its story and their £1m seed round.

Name: James Roy Poulter
Company:  Pronto
Date established: May 2014
Website: pronto.co.uk
Twitter: @feedmepronto@jamesroypoulter

1. What is your investment status?

We raised £1m in seed funding from Europe’s top investors, including Playfair Capital, Seedcamp, Ballpark Ventures and more.

2. Describe your business in one paragraph; what’s its vision and what problem does it solve?

London's favourite food, with Italian standards, delivered in 20 minutes.

We have our own chefs, in our own kitchen, cooking our own menu. We have our own delivery fleet, renowned for their polite manner and bow-tie wearing appearance.

Because we have control over the entire customer experience, we are the best food delivery experience our customers have ever had.

This control, and the technology that underpins it allows us to focus on getting food from farm to fork faster than anyone else, ensuring the ingredients we source are fresher and more nutritious than the food our customers normally eat.

We are building the food infrastructure of the future, meal by excellent meal.

3. How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Simone, Lukas – my co-founders - and I were living and working in Italy. We would sit on restaurant veranda’s eating food grown in that very valley, with wine from the grapes growing on the hillsides we gazed upon. Everything you ate was an excellent choice. It’s healthy, but more than that, good for your community and the world too.

We started by giving customers a curated, good, choice of the food around them, but the lack of control over the actual food and delivery led to our customers being let down, which led to us taking control over the full stack and being responsible ourselves.

4. What’s your addressable market?

There are 15 million people in Greater London that eat three times a day. However, we aren’t doing rabbit food – we are doing London’s favourite food. People want to eat it. It tastes amazing. The first rule of Pronto is that it must be the best meal of that type that you can get delivered to your door – hands down.

5. What’s great about your team and do you have a mentor?

I’ve never used the word ‘mentor’, but I feel there are three individuals that have made a massive effort to push us forwards – that’s Patrick de Laive from The Next Web, Joseph Charlesworth from Playfair Capital, and Carlos Espinal from Seedcamp.

These individuals have all put their personal reputations, and time, on the line for us. That’s made a big difference.

6. What key challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

We really struggled to find a head of marketing that had incredible UK experience and that we had the confidence would be able to take us from zero in a hyper-local situation. It may have been worthwhile setting a lower bar, and being able to make this hire several months earlier. Who knows where we would be now – perhaps broken, or perhaps considerably larger.

Either way, we are lucky to have found an incredible marketer, and it was only for keeping the bar high that it was possible.

7. How have you funded your startup and why did you choose this route?

We have been through a number of accelerators, and taken capital from both angels and institutional investors. We are not here to hang around; we wanted backers that supported out ambition and a path to exceptional growth.

8. How do you market your business and how successful has it been so far?

We have no active marketing campaigns live at the moment. We have only very recently had our first press, too.

9. What are your plans for the future?

We are building the food infrastructure of the future. What Uber has made possible for your car, we are making possible for your kitchen – replacing it. But the bigger opportunity is to replace supermarkets as we know them currently and the supply chains they sit on.

We will feed millions of people here in London, every day, and it will be fundamentally healthier more nutritious food they are eating, without sacrificing for a second preference or taste.

As we scale our ability to deliver even healthier tasty dishes at an accessible price point across cities and countries, we will only get stronger.

10. If you started again, is there anything you would do differently?

Perhaps think twice about doing something less difficult, like starting just a technology company, instead of a restaurant and a logistics business at the same time.

And then just be more aggressive. Do things even faster – start hiring sooner, particularly, because waiting for someone’s notice period to end is painful.

11. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that are starting a business?

Simplify it. However simple you think it is, cut it in half. And then do that excellently.

The Pitch provides a year-long programme of advice and mentoring to startups, with the winner going on to receive a huge package of business support. Register your interest for the 2016 event here.

Christopher Goodfellow
Editor
Sift Media
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