AI start-up kitchens have the potential to make big bucks.

From the Restaurant Model to the Data-Driven Delivery Model

Imagine taking a business model from $35 billion dollars to more than 10 times that amount in just 10 years. That’s the prediction for virtual kitchens and delivery platforms. In a 2018 report “Is the Kitchen Dead?” UBS projectzs the $35 billion meal delivery economy would grow to $365 billion by 2030.

Several established transportation companies like Uber have begun looking into entering the fray of delivery-only food providers.

A fascinating article on explores the business model of London-based Taster, which operates through a combination of meal delivery services, artificial intelligence and data mining to create a business model that surpasses anything restaurants can do. While meal delivery services initially seemed like a boom for local restaurants, virtual kitchens—which can optimize and automate—will be a formidable competitor.

Anton Soulier, an early employee of Deliveroo, founded Taster two years ago with a vision.

“I thought there was a big opportunity to build a food company on top of these platforms,” he said. “They are really good at the logistics. My job is to provide the food.”

The idea is completely by-passing the restaurant business setups, such as location, seating, decor, and all the rest of the expense of operations. Customers coming to dine can be avoided by a delivery-only service.

So the basic idea is to warehouse virtual kitchens and lease space to chefs who prepare food. But a look at how Taster works today offers a glimpse into why this trend toward virtual kitchens is accelerating.

Taster has 115 employees (including 100 chefs) working in 11 kitchens. Last month, it raised $8 million in venture capital from Battery Ventures, Heartcore Capital, LocalGlobe, and Founders Future’s Marc Ménasé.

“The startup operates a series of kitchens in London, Paris, and Madrid, where it prepares meals only available by delivery. These are sold under brands that only exist on these services’ various apps: Out Fry (Korean fried chicken), O Ke Kai (Hawaiian food), and Mission Saigon (Vietnamese). From a consumer perspective, Taster as a brand doesn’t appear in any marketing for these virtual kitchens.”

The AI data provides insights on changes in menu ingredients or delivery areas that would boost sales. This is a nascent part of the business, but Soulier thinks as the number of kitchens expands and the amount of data collected grows, the company will be able to go further in extending automation and create even more predictive, data-driven operations.