Food-tech startup Gathar, described as the Airbnb of dinner parties, has just closed $600,000 in seed investment funding, at a time when eating at home is surging in popularity.
Gathar burst onto the scene in September 2018, following successful trials in the founders’ hometowns of Cairns and Port Douglas.
It has since expanded into 10 markets nationally, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay, and the Sunshine Coast.
The platform takes the stress out of entertaining by matching chefs, cooks and grazing table stylists with people who love to entertain but don’t love the hard work that comes with it.
Customers can book their favourite menu to suit their occasion and budget.
A Gathar team member will then arrive at their home, holiday property, or office with all the ingredients to cook, serve, and wash up after.
Gathar secured the seed capital from lead Brisbane-based investor ACAC Innovation, along with co-investors FNQ Angels and the Queensland Government’s Business Development Fund.
It’s the second time FNQ Angels has supported the regional based start-up, having provided initial capital during the company’s infancy in early 2019.
Gathar founder and chief executive Jodie Mlikota said the investment will enable the business to expand across Australia and ultimately, internationally.
“This provides us with a great opportunity to keep growing our community and our platform,” she said.
“We will be able to onboard hundreds of new chefs, cooks, and grazing stylists to create delicious dining experiences for people across the country.”
Ms. Mlikota said the $600,000 raise won’t only benefit Gathar’s growth, it will also generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for its culinarians, the term the business uses to describe its cooks, chefs and grazing stylists.
“By growing their businesses, we’re helping to aid the recovery of the hospitality industry following COVID-19,” she said, adding it had already generated more than $200,000 in revenue for them.
ACAC Innovation chief executive Bryce Greig said he had been impressed by the sophistication of Gathar’s business model.
Mr. Greig said as a foodie, he personally understood the challenges of entertaining.
“I don’t think existing food delivery services quite meet the standard you’re after when it comes to hosting a party,” he said.
This is the seventh time ACAC Innovation has partnered with the Business Development Fund, which was established to support startups and attract new industries to the state.
The $80 million initiative has helped to grow the pool of angel and venture capital investors able to innovative businesses, in turn creating high-value jobs and showcasing Queensland to the world.
Gathar already has more than 100 culinarians on its platform, who have created hundreds of dining experiences for more than 4000 guests nationally.
While initially, the outbreak of COVID-19 put a halt on bookings, the surge in people entertaining at home and celebrating milestones such as anniversaries and smaller weddings has led to a welcomed increase in demand for Gathar.
“Since restrictions on the numbers of people allowed indoors have eased, we’ve had a return to pre- coronavirus booking numbers,” Ms. Mlikota said.
“Over the coming months, we expect to be ahead of where we were before lockdown.”
Ms Mlikota, who has a marketing background, came up with the idea for Gathar through her own frustrations with having friends over for dinner.
“I was organising these gatherings so I could catch up with people, but I ended up spending all day prepping and all night in the kitchen,” she said.
“I didn’t have the time to enjoy the company of my friends, because I was so focussed on hosting duties.”
Ms. Mlikota joined forces with fellow foodies and tech experts Nicky Jurd and Kaj Haffenden in early 2018, and Gathar was born.