After running his haunted Keto Kitchen in Austin for the past year, serial entrepreneur John Mayer noticed that the industry lacks fintech resources.
With Keto Kitchen selling well in the first quarter, Meyer approached a bank for expansion funding and recalled a banker asking what a haunted kitchen was like. She told him that there was an opportunity to use a data-driven funding tool for this type of restaurant.
“Even if the bankers knew, they didn’t have the technology to insure them properly,” he said. So instead, Meyer, the founder and CEO, created Ghost Financial to do two things first: offer what she calls “the first cash-back credit card for the food and drink list.” limits. To subscribe to a map.
The credit card offers a 1% cashback on purchases, he says, which can be quite lucrative, especially if haunted kitchens spend an average of $40,000 a month on inventory from their suppliers.
Ghost Financial is also developing API integrations with point of sale systems like Toast and delivery apps like DoorDash so it can track areas like operational health and efficiency, hourly and daily sales, average food preparation tires and more. to draw a matrix that represents it. Ratings and reviews to set credit limits and provide instant loan decisions.
If you’re wondering where you’ve heard Meyer’s name, you might remember him from 2015 when he created Fresco News, a crowdsourced breaking news network, or as a co-founder of Homebound, where he still works as a consultant.
Meyer has been candid that her journey home began with Jack Abrahams. This happened around the time she lost her father to depression and Meyer decided to take a break to focus on healing and about a year and a half ago, including investing in angels, mentoring and starting Keto Kitchen side projects.
“I went from being a seasoned tech entrepreneur to working 12-hour days in a kitchen with no cooks or dishwasher,” he said. “This immersion in the service industry has taught me a lot. Restaurants tend to have low margins, perhaps 5% or less. are very diligent workers, and it turns out that most of the industry, especially haunted kitchens, pays for inventory by check, cash, or ACH and benefits financially from spending five or six figures a month.
Meyer cited research showing haunted kitchens will be a $1 trillion industry by 2030. So to meet demand and continue developing Ghost Financial’s first two core products, the company has raised a $2.5 million preliminary round to build an engineering and marketing team.
They have attracted a wide variety of investors including HOF Capital, 305 Ventures, Hustle Fund, Active Capital, Anthony Ghosn, The Council, Amber Illig, Sarah Kenney, Meg Fitzpatrick, Samantha Stein, Sabrina Halpern, Kosinski Ventures, House Capital, Starship Ventures. Ben Yu, Adam Guild, Corey Levy, Detec Ventures, Draft Ventures, Pareto20 and Kepler Operator Fund.
“I am a firm believer in funding to leverage strategic expertise and additional capabilities so we can act faster,” Meyer said. “It’s such an obvious concept that I’m surprised it hasn’t been implemented before.”
He says there are some competitors that are still in stealth mode, but Ghost Financial’s secret sauce is its empathy-driven approach that cares, not requires, operators to spend 30% of their revenue on equipment. Instead, his business makes money from credit card exchange fees, which are about 2% of fees, half of which is returned to the operator in cash.
Others also see suppressed demand in this segment and make interesting offers. For example:
- Mellon Kitchen is an Indianapolis-based restaurant delivery accelerator for Black Chef with a three-month program to help aspiring food entrepreneurs go from idea to test kitchen to monetization. The project is backed by Kelly Jones of Sixty8 Capital.
- Mayites’ One Stop Kitchen partnered with underperforming restaurants to renovate, digitize and transform their brick-and-mortar stores into fast food restaurants and fulfillment centers.
- Last year, Inspire Brands launched Alliance Kitchen in Atlanta, touted as “the first haunted kitchen operated by a multi-brand restaurant” that includes Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy Johns, Sonic Drive-In and Rusty Tacos.
We’ve seen other haunted kitchen appliances make money as well. For example, CloudKitchens, Travis Kalanick’s haunted kitchen startup, made $850 million in January at a $15 billion valuation. and All Day Kitchen, which has raised $65 million in Series C for its approach of allowing restaurants to share their meals across the city using satellite kitchens. Last year we also saw robotic kitchens like Popchew, Lunchbox, Forward Kitchen, Moo, Just Kitchen and YPC.
Meyer, meanwhile, expects to launch the tool later this year at a minimum cost of at least $27 million, which he says will triple and quadruple the chances of credit card distribution.
Next, the company’s third product will focus on restaurant insurance — one of its biggest challenges — and a fourth on a personal payroll system. All of this positions Ghost Financial as a one-stop shop for the financial and business needs of haunted kitchens and restaurants.