Marc Lore, the founder of Jet.com, is betting on the future of food delivery.
His latest startup is called Wonder, which operates food trucks that will deliver restaurant food hot to your door. As ordering food has gone mainstream, Wonder says it aims to elevate the meal delivery experience, Lore wrote in a LinkedIn post yesterday (Dec. 7).
Operating like a so-called ghost kitchen, Wonder will re-create meals from famous chefs such as Bobby Flay and well-known restaurants. The food is prepared and packaged in a large central kitchen before being distributed to smaller kitchen hubs from where it can then be delivered by Wonder’s vehicles, CNBC reported. To keep the food hot, the meal is finished inside the food trucks en route to the destination. The startup is currently delivering meals in New Jersey.
Wonder, which now works with 17 restaurants, plans to expand its mobile kitchens from 60 to more than 1,000 delivering in the Northeast next year.
The company was founded by Lore and his brother in 2018, while Lore was still an executive at Walmart, according to Bloomberg. The following year, Scott Hilton, former Jet.com chief revenue officer, took over as CEO of Wonder. Lore will become CEO and chairman of the Wonder Group, the parent company of Wonder, which will focus on expanding the service.
The global food delivery market has grown to more than $150 billion, and technology has helped fueled new ventures from super-fast grocery delivery to ghost kitchens, which are essentially restaurants without a storefront to serve delivery customers. But food delivery is difficult to make money in, and big companies like DoorDash and Instacart remain unprofitable.
To be more efficient, Wonder will deliver in areas where they can do multiple deliveries, Scott Hilton, CEO of Wonder, told CNBC. Prepping the food in a central kitchen will help keep food costs lower than in a restaurant, he added. It’s not clear how much the meals or delivery will cost.
Unlike traditional delivery services, which take a fee from restaurants for each order, Wonder will pay restaurant owners and chefs a single fee for the exclusive right to deliver their food.
Wonder’s business model echoes that of Zume Pizza, a buzzy Silicon Valley startup that had ambitions to use robots to cook the pizza on the delivery route. But the company, which was valued as much as $4 billion, struggled financially, and eventually turned to a food packaging and manufacturing company in 2020.
Investors are betting on Lore’s startup can succeed where others have stumbled. Wonder Group reportedly raised $500 million in venture capital from investors including New Enterprise Associates, GV, and General Catalyst.
It helps that Lore, who stepped down as CEO of Walmart US e-commerce division a year ago, has a proven track record. He founded Jet.com, which sold to Walmart for $3.3 billion in 2016 and before that, he founded Diapers.com, which Amazon bought in 2010 for $545 million. And, on the side, Lore is looking to build a utopian city called Telosa somewhere in the US. But delivering hot meals is much more complicated proposition than shipping packaged goods, and it remains to be seen if Lore’s success in e-commerce can extend to meal delivery.