It’s a food tech start-up that went through Just Eat’s inaugural accelerator program and it’s called GoKart. However, there are no cars in sight. Instead, this app is in a race to ensure that high streets don’t become homogenous clones by helping independent restaurants when it comes to food pricing.
GoKart was started by Anx Patel, who grew up in his father’s high street store and later owned one. He wanted to transform the way restaurants source ingredients, including vegetables, meat and seafood.
The aim of the app is to group businesses together so they can get a competitive price deals from suppliers. So far, 134 restaurants have signed up to the app, from Michelin-star hangouts through to growing chains like Chinese street food spot Mamalan and drink brand ShakeTastic.
Patel tells Food Spark that suppliers realised that GoKart could get payments to them earlier, solving their cash-flow problems, and in exchange gave the group the same prices as the likes of hotel chain Hilton.
So why could something as simple as banding together be a game changer?
Patel points to the fact that food prices are really volatile at the moment – the cost of butter alone has rocketed by 40% in the last six months.
“Looking at fish and seafood, which is pushed up by oil prices and lack of supply in the ocean, they are on double-digit inflation. More recently, UK lettuce should be kicking into season and the warm weather means there are more people eating salads, so demand has jumped up, but unfortunately salad stops growing at 30 degrees, so that means the supply has gone down,” he says.
“So independent restaurants are in a really difficult place as it’s really hard to control food prices, and what we do is come in there and act as a group and save them 20% on the ingredients and effectively give them better control over it.”
GoKart is getting its fruit and vegetables straight from New Covent Garden Market, which supplies the likes of Harrods, Four Seasons and The Wolseley, while specialist ingredients like jackfruit and breadfruit come from European suppliers and are delivered the next day.
It also recently signed deals with Bidfood for dry, frozen and ambient goods, as well as M&J Seafood, which has the biggest purchasing power for salmon and is ethically minded, says Patel.
Restaurant demands are increasing for more commodity groups, and Patel is on his way to securing relationships with 140 suppliers around the country to extend GoKart’s reach past London and into Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bath and Bristol.
Just Eat backing
As for the Just Eat program, Patel says it was amazing to be one of the five companies selected out of 240 applications.
“Throughout the process we would have weekly clinics focusing on different areas like sales, technology and marketing, and we would also have regular pitching events every week to different people inside and outside the business. That was not just for investment but it gave us the opportunity to tell our story about the business and the idea behind it, which enabled people to be given suggestions and advice in a relaxing environment,” he says.
“At the end of the three months, we had a pitching day to investors and industry, including restaurateurs and capital investors, and we got our first investors from angels from hospitality, tech and finance.”
Just Eat is also an investor in GoKart, which has been growing by 30% each month. With ongoing issues like Brexit, business rents and the cost of staffing, Patel says that the app can at least address one of the pressure points affecting the foodservice industry.