Venture capital firms try desperately to find startups that disrupt large markets and change consumer behavior— as these companies tend to lead to outsized value creation. The best funds find a handful of companies over a decade that truly deliver on that promise — there is a reason highly-valued startups are dubbed “Unicorns.” However, for Mary Biggins, co-founder and CEO of MealPal, finding and building innovative consumer companies seems to come naturally, which is one of the reasons we are so excited to back her and co-founder Katie Ghelli in their latest endeavor. We are thrilled to announce that Menlo Ventures led the $20M Series B in MealPal, the subscription service that makes meal pick-ups from restaurants convenient and affordable.
Think about your last New Year’s Resolution. Chances are it involved one of the “Three F’s” — Finance, Fitness, or Food. Mary’s impressive entrepreneurial journey has taken her through each of these three categories, and just maybe, has elevated the success rate of resolutions across the country.
As the first marketing hire at Betterment (a Menlo Ventures portfolio company), Mary helped guide the early strategy that led to Betterment managing more than $10B in consumer assets in an optimized, low-cost manner. Next, Mary went on to co-found ClassPass, a monthly fitness membership that lets members go to the best boutique fitness studios at a lower price than booking individually. To date, that business has facilitated over 35 million reservations. However, despite her success, Mary was after even a larger slice of the consumer wallet, and along with co-founder Katie Ghelli, sought to shake up the food industry by founding MealPal in late 2015. Across each of these three companies, there has been a common theme— Mary has helped deliver on the difficult promise of a better experience at lower cost to the customer.
Venture Capital investment has flown freely into the food space over the last several years, with arguably the bulk of investment into vertically-integrated delivery models. While this area continues to develop, successful public companies in the space, such as Grubhub, JustEat, and DeliveryHero function as messaging networks between restaurants and consumers without having to handle any of the food or logistics. MealPal adopts a similar asset light model, but creates behavior change on both sides of the equation—with consumers able to pick-up an affordable meal (lunch for less than $6!) from a local restaurant without waiting in line, and restaurants improving efficiencies and margins through bulk preparations of one, featured meal per day. To date, MealPal has built an incredible following serving more than 3 million lunches across 12 cities, but plans to build upon their platform by launching dinner and more plan flexibility in the future.
We are incredibly excited to join the team at MealPal, as it takes a special group of founders to tackle the complexities of keeping the world fed. We love entrepreneurs that go into business with long-standing relationships—Mary and Katie were college roommates and learned to balance the unique demands of varsity athletics with a demanding course load. We’ve been impressed by their commitment to both customers and restaurants, and their ability to successfully launch international markets so early in the company’s history. They are joining the ever-expanding portfolio of Menlo marketplace companies, which includes Uber, Rover, Poshmark, Homelight, UpCounsel and many others. MealPal is also our fourth NYC investment in the last two years, along with Breather, Clarifai, and Bread Finance.
If you are looking for a more convenient and affordable way to eat lunch or dinner, we encourage you to sign up at www.mealpal.com. Don’t see your city? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share where you’d like for MealPal to go next.