Note from Editors:
Have you dined at Dinner Lab, the food tech #startup that catered to star-studded New Orleans wedding of Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s sister? It recently clinched a $5 million venture funding led by James River Capital and $1.7 million from its members through #crowdfunding – to take the company to a new level of dining experience.
by Catherine Clifford
From January to June, Brian Bordainick traveled 120,000 miles on domestic flights for work. With his food-tech startup, Dinner Lab, based in New Orleans, he says becoming a certified road warrior was critical for him to be able to secure VC funding.
All of those tens of thousands of airline miles appear to have paid off. Today, Dinner Lab announced that it has raised $7 million in new funding — $5.3 million in venture funding led by James River Capital and $1.7 million through crowdfunding from its member base of subscribers.
Bordainick says that while crowdfunding was an incredible validation for the company and provided precious customer feedback, he needed to raise more money, and faster, than he could manage one #investor at a time. “It’s really difficult to get the amount of money that we needed in the door from individuals,” he says.
Dinner Lab started out in August 2012 as a late-night dining option run out of Bordainick’s basement. It quickly transformed into a membership-based dining experience where budding chefs serve experimental meals in non-traditional spaces (think old churches and airplane hangars). Last summer, the company expanded into catering private events and was hired for the star-studded New Orleans wedding of Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s sister. Its catering services are now about 20 percent of its #business.
By requiring that members provide detailed feedback on each experience, the company has an ever-growing trove of data that it uses to develop new recipes and move into new markets. It currently operates in 31 cities across the U.S.
With the new funding, Dinner Lab plans to develop its technology systems, raise employee salaries and bring in senior-level management talent to help take it to the next level. The company previously raised $4.1 million in two rounds of #fundraising from investors including Whole Foods chairman John Elstrott.
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