EatStreet is taking its message nationwide.
The Madison company, with an app for ordering restaurant meals, will run TV advertisements this fall during football games on the Big Ten Network.
It’s the first national TV campaign for EatStreet.
“It’s time for us to really buckle down and grow EatStreet. It’s time to throw gas on the fire,” said co-founder and CEO Matt Howard.
The 30-second, animated commercials, developed by Madison ad agency Planet Propaganda, tout EatStreet as “the smartest shortcut from hungry to happy.”
Howard wouldn’t disclose how much the commercials will cost. He said they will be funded by money raised through past investments. Since EatStreet began in 2010, the company has collected $38.5 million from investors, including $11 million raised in October 2016.
EatStreet says it works with about 15,000 restaurants in more than 250 cities, and Howard plans to expand that number substantially over the next couple of years.
“Our hope would be to launch anywhere from 50 to 100 cities over the next 12 to 24 months,” he said.
For now, though, the goal is to increase EatStreet’s name recognition in the cities it already covers. “By buying national, we can get into all of those homes” and make more restaurant owners aware of the company, as well, Howard said.
In February, EatStreet began delivering the restaurant meals to customers in 10 cities, including Madison and Milwaukee, after buying Zoomer, a Philadelphia startup that provided delivery service.
The deliveries have gone well, so far, Howard said, but did not disclose the financial impact. “We’re really happy with the performance of those cities so far,” he said. “By having all these drivers out on the road with EatStreet car toppers … wearing our uniforms and having our delivery bags, all those things push awareness in those markets.”
Howard said EatStreet plans to expand delivery service to more markets in 2018.
The company has more than 150 employees, including more than 130 in Madison, and more than 1,000 delivery drivers. Howard said he expects to add another five to 15 employees every six months, mainly in Madison.
EatStreet moved into newly remodeled quarters at 316 W. Washington Ave. a year ago and occupies two floors of the 10-story building.
Howard would not disclose revenues and said the company is not profitable yet because of its emphasis on marketing. “If you cut off our marketing, we would be a profitable company,” he said.
Chicago-based rival GrubHub recently said it will buy Eat24, Yelp’s food delivery service, for $288 million in cash. GrubHub and Yelp agreed to a five-year partnership that will combine GrubHub ordering into Yelp’s restaurant listings. GrubHub also bought Groupon’s ordering platform, OrderUp.
Howard said, though, he sees GrubHub’s target as big-city markets while Eat Street has focused on medium-sized cities and college towns.
“GrubHub is definitely one of our competitors, but they’re much more focused on Los Angeles; San Francisco; New York; and Chicago than they are on Madison; Milwaukee; Tucson, Arizona; or Richmond, Virginia,” Howard said.
Publicly traded GrubHub reported revenue of$158.8 million for the quarter that ended June 30, with net income of $14.8 million. The company says it partners with more than 55,000 restaurants and operates in more than 1,200 U.S. cities and in London.