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Egyptian Foodtech Startup BONBELL Raises $350k Pre-Seed

BONBELL aims to facilitate the food ordering experience in Egypt by enabling restaurant managers to handle dine-in orders, table reservations, and curbside delivery through their online service.

BONBELL, the first mobile app in the MENA region’s foodtech industry that provides digital and contactless food ordering for table and meal reservations, has secured $350,000 in a pre-seed funding round through an undisclosed Canadian angel investor. The foodtech startup will use the new funds to further develop its app service and boost the number of users and daily orders.

Launched in January 2022 by Doaa Abdel Hameed, BONBELL aims to facilitate the food ordering experience in Egypt by enabling restaurant managers to handle dine-in orders, table reservations, and curbside delivery all through its cloud-based online food ordering and delivery system.

“The idea of BONBELL came from a real gap in the market,” Abdel Hameed tells Startup Scene. “Most foodtech businesses focus on delivery, and don’t pay much attention to dine in, take away and reservations even though it represents about 35% of total revenue of restaurants and up to 100% in some categories. We wanted to solve a real problem and provide solutions based on market needs.”

Although the startup has been operating for only six months, it has already partnered with several leading establishments in Egypt including restaurants, cafes, malls and universities such as Heliopolis Sporting Club, Smash Club, German University in Cairo and Raya Telecom. It has more partnerships in the pipeline with establishments such as Orange, Etisalat and Helwan University, and aims to reach 750 partners by the end of 2022.

To further grow its platform, the startup is currently negotiating with two venture capital funds from Europe and the Gulf to raise $10 million in seed funding by the end of the year. The funds will go towards expanding the platform’s activities in the hospitality and food sector.  “We have promising expansion plans coming very soon,” says Abdel Hameed. “We will have a new line of business for servicing the hospitality sector, such as hotels and resorts, so guests can use BONBELL during their stay to order room service, housekeeping and book entertainment activities, like snorkeling and diving. They would even be able to handle check out and payment, all from the app.”

Abdel Hameed adds that this new line of business will be launched in 2023, along with its Robotic Stations services, to further offer inventive solutions to users. The Robotic Stations will be 100% based on machinery to provide fast, efficient and accessible services to customers.

“These stand-alone stations will have service windows for customers to receive their order,” explains Abdel Hameed. “The orders will be prepared in the back by a robot to provide safe, quick, and convenient 24-hour services to customers. We expect to first install these stations in unreachable locations like gas stations and restaurants on the highways, where it is usually difficult to hire and operate labor. This is a new concept that we’re bringing to the local and regional market.”

Sharing her experience in fundraising, Abdel Hameed states that it is the startup’s solid understanding of the market opportunity that is attracting investors to the business, particularly during today’s challenging times. By focusing on a real market opportunity and managing the startup smartly, she is able to progressively grow the platform. “The food industry is a huge business and Egypt is one of the biggest markets,” she says. “Our burn rate is also very low compared to industry benchmarks, which makes BONBELL attractive for investors as we can sustain and achieve real growth with less risks.” BONBELL plans to expand its services in Egypt and across the MENA region. To date, it has attracted more than 12,000 users to its platform.

The food and beverage (F&B) sector in MENA has witnessed significant growth in 2021. According to the MENA 2022 Venture Market Report by Magnitt, $616 million was deployed into the F&B sector, marking a 204% increase compared to the previous year. Some of the region’s foodtech startups that have raised notable investments include Saudi Arabia’s Foodics, which raised $170 million in April 2022; Egypt’s The Food Lab, which raised $4.5 million also in April this year; and UAE’s ChatFood, which raised $3 million in July 2022.