Flink Grocery Raises $52M To Expand Its Dark Stores
The on-demand grocery delivery industry in Europe (and beyond) continues to heat up amidst the pandemic, including a plethora of startups taking a vertical approach by operating their own delivery only — or “dark” — stores. The latest to show its hand is Berlin-based Flink, which today is announcing that it has raised a hefty $52 million in seed financing.
The round is led by Target Global and existing investors Northzone, Cherry Ventures and Silicon Valley-based debt provider TriplePoint Capital. Cristina Stenbeck from Kinnevik also joins the round in a personal capacity.
TriplePoint’s inclusion is notable, since debt financing makes sense for these types of capital intensive businesses, including those that need to build out actual stores, albeit dark ones, and other deep logistics infrastructure.
To that end, the injection of capital — which brings total funding to date to $64 million — coincides with Flink’s expansion into the Netherlands and France, and follows the opening of 10 dark stores in a number of German cities. They include Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Dusseldorf and Cologne, with more planned.
Officially launched just six weeks ago, Flink, which means “quick” in German, claims to deliver groceries from its own network of fulfilment centres in less than 10 minutes. That puts it up against dark-store competitors including Berlin’s much-hyped Gorillas and London’s Dija and Weezy, and France’s Cajoo, all of which also claim to focus on fresh food and groceries. There’s also the likes of Zapp, which is still in stealth and more focused on a potentially higher-margin convenience store offering similar to U.S. unicorn goPuff. (Related: goPuff itself is also looking to expand into Europe and is currently in talks to acquire or invest in the U.K.’s Fancy, which some have dubbed a mini goPuff).
Flink is pitching itself very much as a grocery solution, similar to Dija and Gorillas, for example, meaning that the real competition — in the short to mid-term, at least — is traditional supermarkets that do scheduled delivery but aren’t typically on-demand. However, delivering just-in-time fresh food poses many logistical challenges, such as the supply chain and ensuring you actually stock the products customers want when they want them. That’s a slightly different challenge to focusing on convenience store items such as beer, chocolate and snacks, or cigarettes etc., which is closer to the original goPuff model.
Meanwhile, the new financing will be used to expand further within Germany and into additional European markets this year. “In Q2 2021, Flink will roll out its first stores in the Netherlands and France, beginning in cities like Amsterdam and Paris,” says the 120-person company.
“Consumers absolutely love to get their grocery shopping done in 10 minutes,” says founder Oliver Merkel. “We’ve received fantastic NPS feedback and see people using Flink multiple times a week. With the additional funding, we can roll out Flink even faster in Europe.”
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