Restaurant website builder BentoBox raises $16.4M
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BentoBox, which helps restaurant owners build mobile-friendly websites, has raised $16.4 million in Series B funding.

This might not seem like the biggest opportunity, particularly since consumers are connecting with restaurants in so many other places online — reading reviews on Yelp, making reservations on OpenTable, ordering delivery on GrubHub and so on. But founder and CEO Krystle Mobayeni said that’s exactly why BentoBox  is important.

“Unfortunately, the technology that has over time become more important in dining out has [also] threatened restaurants’ business models,” Mobayeni told me. “Restaurants have lost that direct relationship with their guests, which is the most important thing in hospitality.”

So BentoBox started out with restaurant websites because it’s “the only place online where they had control,” she said. Since then, it’s also added features allowing those restaurants to push the content and information from their websites to other platforms like Google and Facebook.

Mobayeni also said that it’s crucial for BentoBox to be a revenue generator for restaurants, rather than just another cost. So it charges a straightforward subscription fee (rather than taking a transaction fee that eats into a restaurant’s already-thin margins), and it’s added potential moneymakers to the website platform, like selling gift cards, booking private events and taking orders for catering.

In fact, Mobayeni said restaurants are already looking at the catering feature and “wanting to use that as on-demand online ordering.”

“That’s a really easy leap for us to make, because we have a lot of that technology built already,” she said.

BentoBox says it works with more than 4,000 restaurants across all 50 states and in 16b countries, including Union Square Hospitality Group, Eleven Madison Park and José Andrés’ Think Food Group.

The company has now raised a total of $23.6 million, according to Crunchbase. The new round was led by Threshold Ventures (formerly DFJ Venture) with participation from Bullpen Capital, Haystack and Female Founders Fund, as well as restaurateur Will Guidara of Make it Nice and Eleven Madison Park.

“Krystle and her team have demonstrated impressive growth driven by their keen sense of how the restaurant industry is evolving as well as a deep understanding for how these customers use technology in their day-to-day operations,” said Threshold’s Chirag Chotalia in a statement.

Besides adding on-demand ordering, Mobayeni said the new funding will allow BentoBox to start working with larger restaurant chains, and to build more features, like a point-of-sale and reservation system for restaurants.

“Really our vision over time is to power every interaction between the restaurant and their guest,” she said. “We want to continue to help restaurants drive revenue through their most popular revenue streams — ordering online and booking — and doing that in a way that the restaurant owns.”

Wills Hapworth