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A Wonder pickup truck parked outside a customer’s home. Each Wonder vehicle has a chef who prepares meals before bringing them to the front door.

Source: Wonder

Whether Americans are looking to order a quick bite to eat at a local fast food chain or want to feel like eating at a five-star restaurant from the comfort of their living room, Marc Lore wants to redefine dining at home. .

The entrepreneur is finally going public with his latest e-commerce business: a business that is part food truck, part ghost kitchen coupled with rival DoorDash and Uber Eats.

The former head of e-commerce operations at Walmart in the United States has teamed up with Scott Hilton, who served as chief revenue officer for Walmart’s US digital arm, to launch Wonder Group, Lore wrote in a post on LinkedIn. Tuesday. Lore is the CEO of Wonder Group, while Hilton is the CEO of Wonder, a division within the holding company that oversees a fleet of trucks with mini kitchens inside.

CNBC reported on Lore and Hilton’s involvement with Wonder in May, when the company was operating in stealth mode in the affluent town of Westfield, New Jersey. The duo have since launched a delivery service for local restaurants, called Envoy, which is very similar to platforms such as Grubhub and Seamless. The two companies operate side by side within the Wonder Group.

“It really is a one stop shop for all cooked food,” Lore said in a Zoom interview. “And we think there is a real chance of having a win-win in this market.… You don’t really need another app.”

Next year, Lore and Hilton plan to bring Wonder and Envoy to Westchester County, New York, parts of Connecticut, northern and central New Jersey, and parts of New York City. Their ultimate goal is to expand nationwide, targeting densely populated communities. Lore said the company plans to have 1,200 to 1,300 mobile kitchens in the northeast next year, and to triple that number by 2023. It has around 60 mobile kitchens in operation to date.

“Dinner at home on demand”

Hilton’s vision for Wonder is to give American households access to food freshly prepared by top chefs in every region of the country.

The idea is that a person living in upstate New York could order the famous cheesesteak sandwich from Atlanta-based Fred’s Meat and Bread. Or someone in New Jersey could order a wood-fired Margherita pizza at Los Angeles-based Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza. Wonder is teaming up with select restaurateurs, including Bobby Flay and Jonathan Waxman, for the exclusive rights to recreate elements of their menus.

“Wonder, in short, is a food and tech company,” Hilton said in an interview. “These are meals at home on demand. “

Wonder also wants customers to receive their food when it is piping hot. He therefore completes the final preparation of meals inside vans equipped with kitchen appliances, once the driver arrives at his destination. Each Wonder van has a trained chef on board and is dedicated to a single restaurant.

Ingredients are prepared and packaged in a large central kitchen before being distributed to smaller kitchen centers, which Wonder’s vehicles access throughout the week.

So far, business in the markets where Wonder has served food has been driven largely by word of mouth, Hilton said. Wonder’s vans, coated with the company logo on the side, serve as a sort of traveling billboard, he said.

Wonder currently works with 17 restaurants, serving approximately 17,000 homes in New Jersey. As more dining options are added to the platform, a user is more likely to come back and order dinner from Wonder again, Hilton said. The company also plans to expand soon to serve breakfast and lunch. Recently he launched a selection of desserts and added cocktails after getting a liquor license.

Wonder and Envoy are exiting stealth mode at a time when more Americans have adapted to eating at home during the pandemic. Some consumers have preferred to cook their own meals, while others have turned to take-out and delivery to their favorite restaurants. Experts predict that some of these behaviors will persist, even as fears of Covid subside.

To be sure, food delivery is a hard business to do and make money. DoorDash, for example, has seen its sales increase in recent months but it remains unprofitable. His net loss more than doubled in the three-month period ended September 30. And ride-sharing company Uber has long lost money on its Eats division.

Envoy, in particular, uses its own fleet of cars and drivers separate from Wonder.

According to Hilton, the advantage of Wonder over other food delivery platforms is that it only serves households in a defined area in order to make multiple deliveries in a single trip so that a driver does not have to. do not make “empty” journeys. And because the company prepares food on a large scale in a central kitchen, this process helps keep food costs lower than in a restaurant, he added.

For a Wonder van to break even for the evening, it needs to make about $ 100 in sales per hour, according to Lore and Hilton.

A page from the Netflix playbook

Lore, who co-founded before selling it to Walmart, said Wonder’s strategy is a bit like removing a page from Netflix’s book of content.

“We want to lock down all the best proprietary content,” he explained. “Every well-known chef – every restaurant that’s awesome – we basically want to lock it down and have it exclusively on Wonder.”

“We know that someday there will be competition, but we’ll have all the best content locked in advance,” Lore said.

Wonder Group recently raised venture capital from investors such as NEA, Accel, GV, General Catalyst and Bain Capital, Lore said. The company declined to provide full funding figures. However, someone familiar with the fundraising said it has raised over $ 500 million to date.

Since leaving Walmart earlier this year, Lore is now part-owner – along with former baseball star Alex Rodriguez – of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. The duo’s venture capital firm, Vision Capital People, is also looking to make further bets on digital commerce. Meanwhile, Lore is working on building a so-called utopian city of the future, called Telosa.

But Lore said he devoted all of his “commercial” working time to Wonder Group.

“I feel like I’ve been shot by a cannon.… I just had all these ideas pouring in,” Lore said of his time since leaving the big box giant. “[Wonder] really has the potential to change the way we think about food – how we eat. “

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