YHANGRY raises $1.5 million to build the future of socialising by making it possible to book a private chef in a few clicks
Renowned angel investors including Carmen Rico (Blossom Capital), Eileen Burbidge (Passion Capital), and Martin Mignot (Index Ventures) participated in the round
- YHANGRY was founded by former Barclays sales and credit trading colleagues Heinin Zhang and Siddhi Mittal
- With people eager to make the most out of social events following COVID lockdowns, YHANGRY’s easy-to-use service offers premium private chef dinner parties without the premium price; combining the social element of eating out with the comfort of hanging with friends at home
- YHANGRY’s menus focus on casual dining with prices starting at just £17 per person
- This price includes ingredients, delivered to a customer’s home and cooked by one of 130+ qualified, Covid-safe chefs. Each chef is fully vetted and trialled in person
- Since its launch in December 2019, the firm has served more than 7,000 Londoners despite periods of inactivity caused by Covid lockdowns
- Angel investors include Carmen Rico (Blossom Capital), Eileen Burbidge (Passion Capital), Martin Mignot (Index Ventures), Made In Chelsea star Ollie Locke and active YHANGRY customers
- The funding will be used to expand the YHANGRY team and further develop its technology and services across the UK
9th April, LONDON 2021: YHANGRY – the startup building the future of social gatherings with its affordable, bespoke, and curated private chef experiences – has raised $1.5 million to bring casual and chic dinner parties back to more households.
Formerly work colleagues and close friends, Heinin Zhang and Siddhi Mittal founded YHANGRY to recapture the joys of the dinner party for the millennial generation and to enable friends to hang out at home. The platform enables this to be all available at the touch of a button, for an affordable price.
Dinner parties allow people to open their homes to friends, to get to know their neighbours, to form and strengthen social bonds that are crucial to happiness and our sense of belonging. This is all needed now more than ever, following multiple lockdowns and enforced separation from those we love.
Building the future of social gatherings
Private chefs provide a solution by bringing together the social elements of eating out with the comfort of hanging with friends at home yet, until YHANGRY, these experiences weren’t up to scratch. They tended to come with fancy, expensive menus, out of reach for the average consumer. Additionally, booking such events were typically full of friction, multiple emails, negotiations, menu planning and phone calls.
Being of a generation used to the convenience of Uber, Deliveroo, et al, and the ability to have everything available in a few clicks to save precious time, Zhang and Mittal wanted to make an exceptional private chef service simple and more accessible to all. To remove the time and cost barriers of spending time with loved ones at home, while disrupting the rigid and brutal industry for chefs – providing them with more job opportunities, better pay and a chance to showcase their talents to an engaged audience.
“Dinner parties, birthdays, date nights and meals with friends are never just about food,” said YHANGRY co-founder Siddhi Mittal. “They’re about spending meaningful time together; about connections and catch-ups. This is at the heart of what we do at YHANGRY. By making private chef experiences more accessible and affordable, our customers regularly tell us they are finally able to catch up with friends at home. Whether that’s through games nights, Taco Tuesdays, movie nights, girls’ nights in, and more. 70% of our customers have never had a private chef before and for them, the freedom and flexibility to curate their own evening is priceless.”
“A dinner party at home is more personal and intimate than going out and some of the best conversations take place in the comfort of home – yet not everyone (us included!) enjoy it, or find it easy to cook meals for friends,” added YHANGRY co-founder Heinin Zhang. “At the same time, there are hundreds of chefs who have been negatively impacted by the ongoing crisis. YHANGRY provides them an opportunity to continue doing what they love while creating an extra revenue stream.”
Investors in the Seed round include Carmen Rico (Blossom Capital), Eileen Burbidge (Passion Capital), Orson Stadler (Antler) and Martin Mignot (Index Ventures), Made In Chelsea star Ollie Locke, plus fellow tech founders including Jack Tang (Urban), Adnan Ebrahim (MindLabs), Alex Fitzgerald (Cuckoo Internet), Georgina Kirby (Vinehealth), Deepali Nangia (Alma Angels), and active YHANGRY customers.
YHANGRY currently employs a core team across the UK and counts a network of more than 130 chefs. The funding will be used to double the size of the team by the end of 2021 across a range of roles including product development, operations, customer success, business development, social media, and designers, and the startup is actively recruiting for these roles now.
Premium experience without the premium price
With YHANGRY’s service, customers choose what they want to eat and instantly book. YHANGRY takes care of all the logistics from the grocery delivery to matching the best chef for the occasion – minimising the choice paradox.
The menus – curated by YHANGRY’s in-house executive chef – start at £17pp for six people. Customers can choose to build their own, bespoke menus of YHANGRY dishes, or select from set menus. Every month YHANGRY launches a new, limited-edition-themed menu meaning repeat customers can always try something new. Past themes have included Swiss fondue, and Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit, combining food with different parts of pop culture, to create unique ways of experiencing dishes and food from myriad places.
The price of the booking covers everything, including the cost of the fresh ingredients, delivered to their door, personalised menus sent by post, and the chef’s time. Customers can then add extras, such as wine pairings, after-dinner chocolates, waiter service and even someone to clear away and clean their plates, for small additional fees. YHANGRY is operating within the M25 at the moment but does take bookings outside of Greater London, for an additional fee. These need to be booked via email – rather than the online platform – to manage chef availability.
YHANGRY currently has more than 130 professional chefs available for bookings. Each one has to pass a cooking trial, is fully vetted, and adheres to strict Covid rules. These chefs empower YHANGRY to offer a range of cuisines, including Pan Asian, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Middle-Eastern, and Mexican as well as brunch, canapes, party food and roast dinners. The service caters to allergies, as well as dietary preferences such as vegan, vegetarian, halal, and kosher. Customers can also opt for organic ingredients, and request gluten-free options.
The rise of YHANGRY and the impact of Covid
Before the pandemic took hold, a typical YHANGRY booking was for groups of six to eight and these were largely (70%) casual get-togethers. As the Covid restrictions took hold, the team saw a shift towards smaller family bookings, date night meals and more people looking to mark special events in lockdown-safe ways.
As a testament to the agile and socially-focused nature of YHANGRY, the team added more menu options for smaller groups, as well as larger gatherings, and began offering virtual cooking classes online. This provided a revenue stream for chefs who found themselves out of work due to the restrictions. Both new offerings (varying menu sizes, virtual classes) will remain as products in the long-run.
The virtual cooking classes have proved particularly popular for team bonding events and corporate clients, including Goldman Sachs, Bain and Blackstone. Despite only being fully operational for four of the past 12 months, due to Covid, YHANGRY has served more than 7,000 diners and maintained a five-star rating. This includes celebrities and influencers, such as Made In Chelsea’s Ollie Locke who loved the service so much, he took part in this investment round.
As restrictions start to lift in the UK, there will be a short-term trend of consumers not necessarily feeling comfortable going to a crowded restaurant, and a longer-term trend of people missing the home comforts they got during lockdown – which creates a new market for this product.
Ollie Locke, Made in Chelsea star and investor said:
“Finally, a platform that makes booking a private chef as easy as ordering an Uber. When I first tried YHANGRY I loved the ability to build a bespoke menu and instantly book a dinner party, leaving me free to finally catch up with friends and enjoy an extraordinary evening. I didn’t even have to worry about the clean-up. I immediately knew I had to be involved with the company. I’m delighted to be supporting Siddhi and Heinin on this journey and for more people to get the chance to enjoy such an incredible experience in their homes.”
Carmen Alfonso Rico, angel investor and partner at Blossom Capital, said:
“Where I come from, every celebration happens around a dinner table, mostly at home. So I immediately connected with YHANGRY’s mission. However, as an investor with experience in marketplaces and network effects, I could also see the challenges of scaling an on-demand marketplace that is also complex on operations. But when I first spoke to Siddhi and Heinin, they had already identified all the key challenges and I was impressed by their insane energy, ability to think out of the box and strong execution so far. YHANGRY sits at the intersection of very strong trends: creator’s economy, enabling chefs to make a living out of their passion, focusing on what they do best; and growth of at-home dinner parties, which I believe are here to stay. And it has two exceptionally strong and driven founders to execute on the opportunity.”