Zerocater raises $15M to grow AI-powered 'cafeteria replacement'

The company's Cloud Cafe, which allows employees to order meals from an app, was built for hybrid workplaces.
Zerocater provides on-site pickup staff and equipment. / Photo courtesy of Zerocater

Zerocater has raised $15 million to help its goal of replacing office cafeterias with an app.

The Series C funding round was led by Cleveland Avenue, the investment fund run by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. Remus Capital also contributed. 

Zerocater will use the capital to grow Cloud Cafe, a product geared toward hybrid workplaces. It’s designed to replace the on-site cafeteria at a time when the number of people actually in the office can change from day to day.

With Cloud Cafe, employees can use the Zerocater app to order individual boxed meals from a rotating menu of more than 70 daily options. To keep the selections appealing, Zerocater collects feedback after every meal and feeds it into an AI algorithm that curates the menu.

Meals are prepared by local restaurants or caterers and can range in price from less than $10 to more than $20. Companies can choose how much of the cost they cover. Zerocater also provides on-site pickup staff and equipment. 

The San Francisco-based company believes Cloud Cafe can make meal perks even more cost-effective for employers.

“The pandemic and the shift to hybrid work completely broke how companies feed their teams,” said Keith Kravcik, CIO and CFO of Cleveland Avenue, in a statement. “Add in current economic uncertainty and it is clear companies will no longer spend millions building out traditional cafeterias with full-time chefs, guessing how much food to prepare, and signing five-year contracts when the office headcount changes daily.”

Cloud Cafe is currently available in New York and San Francisco, where companies including Robinhood and Datadog are customers. Behind the new funding, Zerocater will bring the service to nine more markets, including Los Angeles and Chicago. 

Zerocater began in 2011 as a catering marketplace at a time when free food was becoming a common perk of working in Silicon Valley. Its recent focus on the hybrid workplace has apparently paid off: It has grown faster than ever over the past year, tripling its revenue and more than doubling its team, according to a press release.



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