How the Philly tech community helped Local Stove get acquired

The bootstrapped company will essentially morph into a local (eh?) expansion for the Virginia-based HUNGRY, which has raised $4.5 million since its founding in 2016.

Local Stove founders Greg Dubin (left) and Steve Finn. (Courtesy photo)
What happens when a catering service grows alongside the tech community, rubbing elbows with founders and execs? In the story you’re about to read, they get an intro from an investor and end up getting acquired by a venture-backed company in the same space.

Rosslyn, Va.–based HUNGRY, which connects chefs and companies looking to provide food for their employees, announced Wednesday it acquired Local Stove, the ubiquitous catering service with the green checkered tablecloths, for an undisclosed sum.

The bootstrapped Philly company, an alum of Philly Startup Leaders’ bootcamp program, was founded by Wharton grads Steven Finn and Greg Dubin in 2016 with $2,500 in seed cash. HUNGRY, which has raised some $4.5 million in venture capital since its founding in 2016, will take over Local Stove’s Philly clients and list of chefs, marking its first expansion outside of the D.C.-metro area.

There were lots of similarities between the two models, HUNGRY CEO Jeff Grass said told, in that both companies use tech to connect independent chefs to companies and clients looking for catered meals. In the D.C.-metro area, HUNGRY has some 300 clients corporate clients, including some A-listers like Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and WeWork.

(Full disclosure, Local Stove delivers meals to 1776’s monthly community lunches at its Curtis Center location, where Technically Media is headquartered. This reporter can confirm the food is delish.)

So who was that investor who got the ball rolling? Red & Blue Ventures Managing Director Brett Topche, who’s known Grass for years, made the first intro between the executive and the Local Stove team last year.

“What they needed was more resources and technology,” Grass said. “We can bring that to the table, as well as experience with scaling a platform.”

Dubin, 33, said the company had been approaching local investors, but a conversation with the HUNGRY team quickly evolved into one of acquisition.

The tech community here tries to support each other wherever it can, and it truly does feel like there's a rising tide that raises all boats.

“Steve and I accomplished a lot with very little,” Dubin said. “It will be interesting to see what we can do with more resources. And also, we’re excited about being able to share what we learned form this experience.”

The founding team plans to stay on as the company makes the transition, then serve as advisors. All told, HUNGRY is a full-time team of 20, and will be adding a team of 10 in Philly by the end of the year. For Dubin, being near to the tech ecosystem was a big factor on two fronts: being able to sustain the company and getting to an exit.

“I don’t think there’s many cities where we could have bootstrapped it this far,” Dubin said. “And I can’t tell you how many mentors we got to look at our pitch deck. Also, being in Philly and having access to universities and great interns was a big help. I feel like the tech community here tries to support each other wherever it can, and it truly does feel like there’s a rising tide that raises all boats.”


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