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Funding Friday: How Wonder is looking to transform Takeout

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A wandering wonder

In a northern New Jersey suburb outside of New York, a new startup is preparing meals for hungry families. Instead of operating like a restaurant or an old school food truck, Wonder operates as a hybrid of sorts. Her meals are partially prepared in the central kitchen and then loaded into Mercedes (DMLRY) vans.

Once on the road, Wonder’s “Chefs on the Road” finish meals and deliver them to their homes. Gray and maroon vans are a common sight at lunchtime in some areas. Recipes from 20 different restaurants are on Wonder’s menu, delivered to your door in about 40 minutes.

Fundraising and evaluation

Wonder’s latest funding round valued the company at $3.5 billion. This includes the $350 million Series B raise announced in June. The company is now looking to expand and send thousands of its trucks across the country.

The company has also secured off-premises rights for some big names in the restaurant industry, such as seafood specialist Daisuke Nakazawa and celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Vander says his food is preferable to traditional takeout because it doesn’t arrive warm or soggy. Its chefs use special ovens to heat partially prepared dishes, and dishes are vacuum-cooked in water baths. Finished products are delivered hot to the customer’s door.

Growing pains

Some of Wonder’s loudest critics have focused on one big complaint: the noise. Neighbors say the company’s vans are noisy and tend to sit in one spot for half an hour or more while the food is being prepared. There’s also the problem of air pollution, given that Wonder uses diesel trucks. CEO Scott Hilton says the plan is to eventually convert to an electric fleet.

At the moment, Wonder has about 200 vans at its disposal. The goal is to bring them to thousands by 2025. In some areas of New Jersey, the vans are commonly seen on the roads, contributing to brand recognition. Wonder is no doubt hoping for word-of-mouth — and more satisfied customers.

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