We don’t often hear of startups raising multiple massive fumding rounds within several months, but that’s exactly what happened today when Chinese online food ordering service Ele.me announced another landmark US$350 million in Series E funding from CITICPE, Tencent, JD, Dianping and Sequoia Capital. It will remain an independent company after this round.
Ele.me (“Are you hungry?” in Chinese) had just raised US$80 million Series D funding from Dianping eight months earlier. In late 2013, it received US$25 million of Series C financing. The previous two multi-million dollar rounds were received from GSR Ventures and Matrix Partners in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
Started in 2009 as a service targeting university students and the low-end catering market, the site is planning to expand into high-tier markets with a special focus on white collar workers. The proceeds will also be used to construct an in-house logistics system.
The company took more than 110 million orders from over 20 million registered users in 2014, with coverage in more than 200,000 restaurants across 250 cities around China, according to founder Zhang Xuhao. “Ele.me’s market share has reached 60% and sales from mobiles account for 75% of the total”, Zhang said.
Napos, a paid online food ordering management system, and restaurant ranking services are Ele.me’s two main revenue sources.
The penetration rate of online food ordering services among Chinese netizens reached 20.1% in the first half of 2014, while the group-purchasing turnover for catering services tot alledRMB16.66 billion (US$2.67 billion) over the same period, according to the China E-commerce Research Center.
The huge market has lured many startups as well as venture capitalists. Line0 recently secured US$30 million of Series B funding led by Tencent. Other major competitors include Meituan’s food ordering service Meituan Waimai, Daojia, Taobao Diandian, Meican, Dianwoba, etc.
image credit: Ele.me
Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)