During the dotcom boom, startups aimed to bring every single form of offline business onto the Web. Pet food delivery became the punchline. Funerals.com took it to a whole new extreme.
A lot of those bad ideas weren’t so much bad as they were ahead of their time. (Check out Petflow’s subscription dog food or eFuneral.com today.) Now, cloud storage and the ubiquity of iPads make it much easier for startups to bring opaque, distributed businesses online, where there are customers waiting.
It’s happening in the bed and breakfast industry, with Airbnb and HomeAway. 42Floors is doing it for office furniture; Houzz is doing it for providers of remodeling services; Honest Buildings is doing it for commercial building service providers. Classtivity and Sportaneous are doing it for fitness classes. VenueBook is doing it for event spaces.
Boston-based ezCater is doing it for catering. The company has 45,000 caterers in its national database, 1600 of whom had gotten orders through the system as early as a year ago. EzCater takes a commission from the caterers when an order is placed. The site features ratings, reviews, and menus to ease in the discovery and booking of catering services.
The company launched last year to provide an online marketplace for local caterers, raising a $630,000 seed round from Spinnaker Trust, Walnut Venture Associates, and angel investors Jill Preotle, Mike Masterson, and Ed Belove.
This week ezCater raised $2.16 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing. The capital comes in part from a Boston group called Sidecar Angels, which invests alongside active VCs.
EzCater has a new competitor in New York. CaterCow recently graduated from the Entreprenuer’s Roundtable with its version of the catering marketplace, currently limited to NYC.