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HUNGRY Plots Expansions With $21M Raised in Star-Studded Funding Round

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Ballston-based catering marketplace HUNGRY has nabbed $21 million in funding with backing from celebrities and athletes.

Investors in its Series C funding round include actress Issa Rae, “America’s Got Talent” host Terry Crews, NFL player DeAndre Hopkins, NBA player Lonzo Ball and boxer Deontay Wilder. More than a dozen venture backers joined in the round, including Arlington-based Sands Capital Global Venture Fund.

Previous celebrity backers include the investment group of hip hop mogul Jay-Z and singer/songwriter Usher.

With the newly-raised money, co-founder Shy Pahlevani tells ARLnow that HUNGRY can fund its plans to add new locations and services.

“Over the course of the next year, HUNGRY plans to expand its onsite services and hire more aggressively,” co-founder Shy Pahlevani said. “The money from our Series C funding will be used to strengthen our West Coast presence, starting with Southern California and Silicon Valley. In September, we plan to launch onsite services in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The startup is opening HUNGRY Cafés, which provide café and coffee bar services to business clients, and expanding food truck experiences through a partnership with food truck company Roaming Hunger.

The funding round caps a successful year for the startup, which was in the top 500 of the latest Inc. list of the fastest-growing companies in America.

“Not only is it an incredible honor to receive a spot on the Inc. 5000 list, it’s a true testament to the hustle, grit, and smarts our team has displayed over the last year and half,” he said. “Despite all the challenges we faced during the early stages of the pandemic, we’ve defied the odds — relying on great teamwork and staying true to our core value [of] positivity.”

The co-founder says celebrity support has bolstered HUNGRY’s brand recognition.

“Celebrities are investing their money in startups more and more, and we believe they’re choosing to back HUNGRY because of our mission, values and history of innovation,” he said.

Hungry founders Eman Pahlavani, Shy Pahlevani and Jeff Grass (courtesy photo)

One of HUNGRY’s biggest pandemic-era innovations is still growing: Virtual Xperiences. Groups can purchase experiences such as online cooking classes with name-brand chefs with supplies sent directly to participants’ homes.

Pahlevani said that business is still “booming… [and] we expect it to continue its staggering growth for the foreseeable future.”

The startup continues to roll out cooking, baking and drink-making experiences — as well as ones not related to gastronomy — on a monthly basis. A number of new concepts are launching this fall, Pahlevani said.

Meanwhile, HUNGRY is seeing part of its original business line, office catering, ramp up again.

“Office catering is starting to pick up across the country as more and more Americans get vaccinated,” Pahlevani said. “We continue to support thousands of clients through our Food Solutions onsite offerings across Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, D.C. Atlanta, Dallas and Austin. Veteran clients, such as Wayfair and Appian, are back to providing meals for their teams onsite, providing a delicious incentive for their teams returning to work.”

Another pandemic-era pivot, however, has come to an end — a partnership with Washington Nationals. When baseball resumed, without fans, those watching from home could get stadium food delivered via the startup.

“The continuation of our Washington Nationals partnership will depend on stadium attendance and interest, but we thoroughly enjoyed working with the powerhouse sports team and would be happy to continue those efforts to provide fans with a stadium experience at-home moving forward,” Pahlevani said.

During the pandemic, HUNGRY has also given back, feeding those who are food insecure as well as members of the National Guard who were sent to D.C. for the inauguration of President Joe Biden. And with the holiday season soon approaching, Pahlevani said HUNGRY has some initiatives planned.

“As we get closer to the holidays, we plan to activate a number of donations and events designed to help those who are food insecure in the communities that we serve, which will include the greater Arlington community,” he said.

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