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Meta and Google’s Gradient back LatAm startup OlaClick

·3-min read

More than 80% of food delivery orders in Latin America are still made over phone calls and settled with cash. OlaClick, a young startup that is helping these restaurants sell online and collect money digitally, announced on Thursday it has received backing from scores of investors, including Gradient, Meta and Delivery Hero.

Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI fund, led OlaClick’s $4.4 million seed financing round. Meta, Delivery Hero, Tribe Capital, Caffeinated Capital and Graph Ventures also participated in the round.

OlaClick enables restaurants to facilitate direct-to-consumer e-commerce by providing them with point of sale (POS) and customer management (CRM) services and the ability to digitize menus.

Customers are then able to interact with these restaurants on WhatsApp and Instagram and place their orders, explained José Rico, co-founder of OlaClick, in an interview with TechCrunch.

“We are trying to solve a D2C problem in Latin America. There’s a huge space for restaurants in this region to sell directly to consumers,” he said. “We also have an administration panel that allows restaurants to offer discounts and run campaigns. And WhatsApp is the app we are using to reach consumers.”

As is the case in many emerging markets such as India, WhatsApp is widely popular in the Latin American region. “Everything happens on WhatsApp here," said Rico, on a WhatsApp call. "In Brazil, Instagram is very popular, too, so many restaurants are using Instagram as a channel with us,” he said.

Rico co-founded OlaClick with three other entrepreneurs in 2020, all of whom are European immigrants (and pictured above). He said they all moved to, and have been living in Latin America, for over 10 years now and this startup is their attempt to give back to the region and create jobs for many.

"With OlaClick's hassle-free technology, any restaurant can instantly open a digital storefront and leverage social media to sell their products online. This opens up a new revenue stream for businesses across Latin America and represents a huge opportunity for OlaClick," said Zachary Bratun-Glennon, partner at Gradient Ventures, in a statement.

OlaClick, which also counts Y Combinator among its backers, today has a presence in more than 20 nations, but identifies Brazil, Mexico and Colombia as their core markets. Its platform is processing over 1 million orders each month from more than 45,000 restaurants.

Rico said the startup will deploy the fresh funds to expand its engineering and product team and broaden the offerings to restaurant partners. OlaClick currently allows restaurants to either use their own logistics to make the deliveries or customers pick them up from the eatery. The startup plans to partner with logistics startups to offer delivery services to restaurants.

OlaClick -- which last year processed $35 million in commission-free orders, a figure it hopes to scale to $200 million this year -- is also Meta’s maiden startup investment in Latin America.

"We’re thrilled to support OlaClick’s passionate and talented team as they help restaurants of all sizes across Latin America reach their customers directly, and optimize orders, on WhatsApp,” said Sunita Parasuraman, head of New Product Experimentation Investments at Meta, in a statement.

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