ChowCentral, a food-delivery startup, is one of three African startups selected for Y Combinator’s summer 2023 class. It extends Y Combinator’s bet on food delivery in Africa.

ChowCentral, ‘a Nigerian startup building restaurant chains for Africans who want high-quality meals,’ has been accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer class of 2023. Only three African startups were selected in this year’s cohort, including Rwanda’s Eden Care and a yet-to-be-named startup from DRC Congo. ChowCental was founded by Tosin Onafuye, Christopher Obasi and Adeyemi Onafuye. 

As part of the announcement, Y Combinator shared that the startup currently brings in over $80,000 in monthly revenue and touted ChowCentral’s “delicious recipes and faster deliveries” as part of its appeal. ChowCentral was initially called 500 Chow and was launched in 2020 to deliver meals that cost ₦500 to ₦800, a value-led promise. According to its founders, “Chow Central started as a fun experiment shortly after we graduated from University. We created a virtual restaurant page on Twitter to sell affordable meals and also help underutilized restaurants get sales during the Covid lockdown.”

In its current iteration, ChowCentral operates a “central kitchen” and partners with “underutilized commercial kitchens” as fulfillment centers. On its website, ChowCentral is a food delivery service that allows customers to order meals from different restaurants, pay with their in-app wallet and track their orders in real-time. ChowCentral will join an increasingly competitive food delivery landscape with Jumia Food, Bolt Eats, Glovo, and AreaChops. Last week, TechCabal reported that Eden Life, a home service platform, was also experimenting with fast-food delivery.

Y Combinator’s bet on food delivery startups in Africa 

In 2022, only eight African startups were selected for Y Combinator’s summer batch. While fintech startups had the most representation, with six of the eight startups, the other two were food delivery startups. Chowdeck and FoodCourt, two Lagos-based delivery startups, were the surprise inclusions in the 2022 summer batch. Both startups have seen significant growth in the last year. TechCabal reported last week that Chowdeck is rolling out grocery delivery services in Lagos. The addition of grocery delivery means Chowdeck will compete with Jumia on two key fronts. 

Y Combinator has good reason to be bullish on food delivery, having backed DoorDash in 2013. It has also backed numerous other food delivery startups. In 2021, it selected Vendease, a Nigerian B2B startup that serves restaurants.

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