David Beisel’s Perspective on Digital Change
Why NextView Ventures Invested in MealPal
The entire NextView team are personally subscribers to MealPal. Why? Because the consumer value-proposition for urban professionals in cities like Boston and New York is so strong. A subscription plan, the weekday meal service MealPal offers both the convenience of skipping the line to pick up a pre-paid lunch at hundreds of local restaurants AND the consistently much cheaper price for all of those great meals. Plus, the MealPal mobile app & online service acts as a “pal” concierge aiding discovery of new tasty local takeout lunch dishes depending on what ingredients & types of food users like & dislike.
But a great consumer proposition is only one component of a successful startup. On the other side of the equation, the participating restaurants absolutely love MealPal, too, as it sends them net new sustainably profitable customers – unlike the churn & burn group-style discounting schemed phenomenon of the past.
This managed marketplace model of MealPal was intriguing to me and my partners when we first heard the concept, in part because of our firm’s thesis around deliberately building a portfolio of investments addressing disruption in the major consumer expenditure categories like food, apparel, housing, and insurance. But the strategy was even more interesting because of the individual behind it: co-Founder/CEO Mary Biggins’s experience as co-Founder of ClassPass (a company with a similar approach in an entirely different category) gave her a unique unfair advantage to succeed. Moreover, everyone who we spoke to about her, from prior investors to former co-workers shared their own superlative perspective about her ability to execute. For a business in which distribution is a key component, Mary’s background as a deep analytical marketer from her days at Vistaprint and Betterment proved as an additional real asset.
As a venture capital firm exclusively focused on the seed stage, we at NextView were excited to invest in NYC-based MealPal both pre-product and pre-launch. And in intervening year since facilitating that first lunch order, it’s been tremendous to watch the company launch+expand to now eight cities (including London which launched today) and help serve over one million takeout lunches. One million. In a year. The company has subsequently raised $15M in financing from Bessemer Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, and Haystack. We were psyched to also participate in this funding announced today, as it will help the company bring a broader selection of convenient and inexpensive lunch options to subscribing customers in more cities across the U.S. and internationally. As any NextView team member will tell you, the convenience and price of lunch through MealPal is tough to beat, and soon thousands of more consumers will join us each day.