Taster raises another $8 million for its native food delivery brands

If you’re an Instagram user, chances are you’ve encountered a ton of ads for companies trying to sell products directly to consumers, using social networks as storefronts paired with online stores. French startup Taster is doing the same thing with restaurants built specifically for food delivery startups.

The startup raised an $8 million funding round from Battery Ventures, with existing investors Heartcore Capital, LocalGlobe, GFC and Marc Ménasé investing again.

Taster is creating native brands for Deliveroo, UberEats or Glovo in Europe. The company has launched three different brands — Mission Saigon, O Ke Kai and Out-Fry. These restaurants don’t have any tables, they’re basically kitchens for food delivery. They even have multiple addresses in the same city.

So far, the startup has delivered 400,000 meals in Paris, London and Madrid. And Taster now tries to predict trends to order just the right amount of food for a specific day. There are 115 full-time employees working for the company, including 100 people in the kitchens.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to launch three new brands and open more kitchens. In order to scale more rapidly, the company doesn’t handle real estate itself. Taster now relies on third-party companies, such as Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens.

By focusing as much as possible on creating brands and cooking food, Taster can quickly scale and compete aggressively with more traditional restaurants.

The company doesn’t have to manage deliveries, which is an advantage over full-stack startups like Frichti. And unlike traditional restaurants, Taster doesn’t have to rent expensive locations and hire waiters.

Jewelry startup AUrate raises $13M

AUrate, a startup selling gold jewelry directly to consumers, announced today that it has raised $13 million in Series A funding.

The company’s co-founders Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn said that AUrate’s prices range from $50 to $3,000, but they’re really aiming for what Ezzahraoui called “this new market sweet spot” of $300 to $500. And while that’s not exactly cheap, she said customers are getting a piece of fine jewelry made from real gold, which would normally be priced at $1,200 or more.

The jewelry is produced by local partners in New York City, and the gold comes from sustainable sources. Kahn also said while fine jewelry has traditionally been created “by men for women,” she designs AUrate’s pieces, and she’s “always looking for a balance between bold and feminine, which represents our women.”

In addition to selling jewelry online, AUrate also operates two brick-and-mortar stores in New York, with a third under construction in Washington, D.C. And it introduced something called Curate, where the company will send up to five recommended pieces to customers, which they can try at home with no commitment.

Founded in 2015, AUrate says its online revenue has been growing consistently by 400 percent every year, while its brick-and-mortar retail business has been doubling. Also noteworthy: 40 percent of its customers return for additional purchases, and 90 percent of customers are women.

The new funding was led by Michael Platt’s Bluecrest Capital, with participation from Point King Capital, Arab Angel Fund and Drake Management.

Skubana raises $5.4M for its e-commerce operations software

Skubana, a startup promising to help e-commerce business manage what can be a dizzying array of logistical challenges, is announcing that it has raised $5.4 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Defy Partners, with participation from Advancit Capital and FJ Labs. Early Skubana backer Brian Lee — who co-founded The Honest Company, ShoeDazzle and LegalZoom, and is also involved as a Defy Sage — is joining Skubana’s board of directors.

“When I first launched Shoedazzle and The Honest Company, one of our primary challenges was understanding how our products performed across channels,” Lee said in a statement. “Skubana solves a core problem that thousands of brands face and no other competitor solves well.”

CEO Chad Rubin said these were issues he faced when he started his own e-commerce business, Crucial Vacuum, a decade ago. In fact, Rubin’s co-founder and CTO DJ Kunovac (who was working at McKesson health IT) recalled visiting Rubin’s warehouse and saying, “What you’re experiencing right now is effectively where healthcare was a decade or two ago.”

The problem, Kunovac argued, is that there was separate software and systems for every part of the process. What was needed was a “horizontal platform of commerce.”

skubana dashboard snapshot imac

So with Skubana, Rubin and Kunovac have built a software platform that handles shipping, inventory management, restocking and more. The main thing Skubana doesn’t handle is the creating the actual online storefront and shopping cart. Instead, it’s built to take care of everything that a business needs to do once those orders start coming in.

As Rubin put it, “If Shopify is a city, then we’re everything underneath the ground.”

By bringing all the data together from various sales channels and applying and machine learning, the company says it can improve profitability and reduce issues like selling more product that you have in the inventory. There’s also an app store to integrate Skubana with other systems.

“We’re completely replacing these siloed, fragmented pieces of software,” Rubin said.

Brands already using the software include Bird Rides, Valvoline, and Deathwish Coffee. Kunovac noted that Skubana isn’t “entry-level software” — when brands sign up to use it, they’ve usually a growing a commerce business, which is when “the laws of physics have started to take over.” In other words: “They come to us from pain.”

With the new funding, Skubana says it will double its size in the next 18 months, build a number of new products and continue to invest in its app store ecosystem.

Network with CrunchMatch at TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019

Ready to tackle the colossus that is enterprise software? Join us and more than 1,000 attendees for TC Sessions Enterprise 2019 on September 5 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. We’re talking founders, technologists and investors digging deep into the challenges facing established and emerging enterprise companies today. Get your early-bird tickets now and save.

TechCrunch’s first ever event focused on Enterprise is a prime networking opportunity that will feature a crowd drawn to a day of intensive, on-stage interviews (led by TechCrunch editors) with the king pins of enterprise as well as breakout sessions, exhibiting startups, receptions and much more.  Naturally, we have a fantastic networking app to help attendees wring the most opportunity out of the show.

CrunchMatch (powered by Brella), is TechCrunch’s free business match-making service. Effective networking is more than just meeting people. CrunchMatch helps you search for the right people based on specific mutual criteria, goals and interests. The platform’s combination of curation and automation lets you easily find, vet, schedule and connect with the people you want to meet — founders, investors, technologists, researchers or MBA students. You decide, and CrunchMatch delivers.

CrunchMatch is available to all attendees. When the platform launches, keep an eye out for an email with a sign-up link. Fill out your profile with the pertinent details — your role (technologist, founder, investor, etc.) and who you want to connect with at the event. CrunchMatch will make meet-up suggestions, which you can approve or decline.

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New tickets available to the 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party

Could you use a little summer startup fun? We’re rolling out our next round of tickets to the TechCrunch Summer Party at Park Chalet, San Francisco’s coastal beer garden. If you want to join your startup peers to eat, drink and be merry, don’t delay. These limited-release tickets will be snapped up before you can say “hold my beer.” Buy your Summer Party ticket today.

Our 14th annual summer soiree offers an opportunity to connect and converse with like-minded entrepreneurs in a relaxed setting with ocean views. Take a break from the daily grind, have a local brew and strike up a conversation. You never know where it might lead or when lightning might strike — especially with Lead VC Partner Merus Capital along with firms August Capital, Battery Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Data Collective, General Catalyst, and Uncork Capital in the house.

Party-planning details you need to know:

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