Meican Pic

The emergence of local food ordering services is fueling a Chinese trend where local diners are promised greater convenience and access to restaurant menus. Some 20.1% of Chinese internet users used online food ordering services in first half of 2014, according to iMedia research. The booming market has made the sector a regular recipient of venture capital funding.

Chinese online food ordering site Meican completed RMB140 million (US$22.56 million) of Series C funding led by the leading local ratings and reviews service Dianping, with the participation of KPCB, Nokia Growth Partners and Trust Bridge Partners. The company received B round funding last year.

Unlike rivals Ele.me and Daojia, which focus on individual customers, Meican targets enterprise clients that cater for their employees. The site also allows users to build a custom homepage by adding their locations and favorite restaurants. Now operating in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu, Meican is planning to expand to 30 cities in the near future.

Dianping, the lead investor of this round, is also the backer of Ele.me, a popular online food ordering platform with a solid low-end client base which plans to expand into the high-end market. This alliance allows both parties to share user and merchant data, and to integrate their food ordering services. Likewise, the new investment will bring Dianping more data resources and facilitate its expansion to online food ordering for enterprises.

Dianping reportedly received US$850 million of financing from Xiaomi, Tencent, Teasek Holdings and Wanda Group to push its transformation to a O2O local life platform. The company has invested in a group of catering services, such as Hima Software, a CRM solution provider for restaurants and hotels, food ordering service DZB, WiFi solution WiWide, and enterprise resource planning service Shanglong Technology.

The lucrative online food ordering market has spurred the efforts of the domestic tech giants. Chinese e-commerce giant JD led a US$50 million Series D funding in Daojia.com. Etaoshi, which received US$20 million in Series B funding last year, has yet to receive strategic investment from the internet titans, but has formed partnerships with Baidu, Qihoo 360, Alibaba and Meituan.

Image credit: Dianping, Meican

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)