When Kitopi first launched in early 2018, it was one of the first major cloud kitchen platforms widely regarded as a pioneer in this space. Now, with the food industry evolving in unprecedented ways - partly as a result of the pandemic, we are looking towards an omnichannel future.
Kitopi, which stands for Kitchen Utopia, was founded in Dubai, UAE to help food brands scale and expand across borders with minimal capital expenditures and operating expenses. From an initial focus on on-demand food delivery, we have since expanded its offerings to include dine-in, and more recently, food halls.
As a food tech business, our offering has revolved around technology and innovation from day one. Since our early days as a cloud kitchen platform, Kitopi’s proprietary in-house tech, which enabled us to both take care of the end-to end operations processes for brands and cook multiple brands in a single kitchen, has helped many food brands expand within and beyond borders in as little as 14 days.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, demand for our niche offering surged. Government-imposed lockdown, social distancing rules and dining restrictions meant that F&B businesses had to swiftly adapt and embrace new ways to reach customers, effectively calling for solutions that Kitopi was perfectly-placed to provide. This, along with shifts in consumer behavior created an unprecedented boom in food delivery, attracting not only F&B businesses seeking services, but in investor interest in the food tech space, as reflected in our Series C funding round in July 2021.
Our Series C funding round, led by the world’s largest technology-focused investment fund, Softbank Group Corp’s Vision Fund 2, marked the fund’s first investment in a UAE-headquartered company. This not only made us a ‘Únicorn’, but the fastest Unicorn to have emerged from the MENA region.
Later in the year, we began investing in multiple leading food groups to mark a new phase of our growth strategy across our markets, where we began growing a network of the best local, regional and international brands that have synergy with our operating platform, allowing brands to leverage our proprietary technology and infrastructure to grow at an accelerated pace while preserving the customer experience.
This strategy has paved the way for Kitopi’s new direction towards an omnichannel future. Today, the vast majority of our 200+ kitchens are multi-brand, and our first Food Hall concept, Social Distrikt, was recently launched in Dubai’s iconic The Palm.
Elaborating on Kitopi’s new direction, Mohamad Ballout, co-founder and CEO of Kitopi, explained, ‘We are very proud of our roots as a cloud kitchen network, and will continue to innovate and reinvent in the cloud kitchen space. However, to build on our vision to satisfy the world’s appetite, our innovation now extends beyond cloud kitchens. To truly bring the best food experiences for our customers, we needed to evolve towards an omnichannel future - this means that apart from striving to bring all the best brands to our customers, we are also striving to bring them the brands through multiple channels to cater to all needs at all times.’
‘Today, as a multi-brand restaurant, we differ from conventional food businesses in two very important ways. Firstly, we are multi-brand, with some of our kitchens cooking more than 50 brands under one roof. On average, our multi-brand cloud kitchens produce 1 order every 1.3 minutes. Secondly, we are omnichannel. We operate both dine-in restaurants, cloud kitchens, and food halls. And while we are present on aggregators, we also have our direct consumer channels.’
Speaking further on the new direction, Ballout added: ‘ We are incredibly excited to move towards an omnichannel future. The world is changing at a rapid pace - with new trends and new technologies emerging every day, the industry will only continue to evolve. What our goal is - is to serve customers what they want, the way they want it. Therefore, looking ahead, what we know for certain is that we will continue to innovate and evolve to create possibilities in the F&B and food technology space beyond what we know as possible today, and we will never look back.’