industry spotlight

Dark Kitchens

Explore the dark kitchens industry, where virtual restaurants expand delivery markets and transform dining.

Dark kitchen industry overview

The dark kitchen industry is gaining momentum, fueled by the increasing adoption of food delivery services and evolving consumer tastes. This trend is attracting significant investor interest and reshaping the future of convenient dining options.

Why it matters:

Plenty of lucrative opportunities for startups are available:

  • Subscription service
  • Cloud kitchens
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Vertical farming integration

Between the lines:

Prepare for challenges in dark kitchens like maintaining consistent food quality, securing VC funds, and establishing a strong online brand in a competitive market.

We’ve worked with numerous dark kitchen startups and mastered creating businesses that captivate investors

Secured investments
Ventures assisted
Fields scrutinized

What we do:

We provide fundraising assistance, manage M&A deals, and deliver strong market blueprints and persuasive pitch decks.

Go deeper:

Explore our dark kitchen market research to find useful insights on funding, market potential, and challenges.

2x growth
The global dark kitchens market is projected to double in size by 2032.


Individuals globally order online food once per week.

Driven by a surge in online platforms and growing demand for convenient delivery

Established restaurants utilize dark kitchens.


Restaurant associations advocate for more transparent regulations.


Young adults prefer online food ordering for its convenience.


By the end of 2023, cloud kitchen startups had raised $0.156 billion in funds

Key verticals where funds flow:

  • Wholesale partnerships
  • Delivery aggregators
  • Cloud kitchens
  • CRM tools

Leading dark kitchens venture capital firms

Write to us to know more

Dark kitchen startup obstacles

Addressing these challenges will streamline your fundraising journey.

Customer loyalty hurdles:

Dark kitchen startups must work harder to build brand recognition and customer loyalty without a physical storefront. Relying heavily on third-party delivery apps can dilute brand presence and customer relationships.

Why it matters

No customer loyalty means:

  • Low retention rates
  • No scalability
  • High customer acquisition costs
  • Limited growth
  • Market price fluctuations

What it takes:

  • Focus on a USP to differentiate and present the unique cooking method or commitment to sustainability
  • Personalize the online ordering experience and offer customization options, loyalty programs with rewards for repeat customers, and targeted promotions
  • Partner with influencers and local businesses to promote your brand and reach a wider audience
  • Leverage customer feedback to understand their preferences and adjust your service if needed

Funding limitations:

Dark kitchen startups require significant upfront funding to secure a commercial kitchen space with proper equipment, develop a unique menu, design packaging, create marketing materials, and potentially cover licensing fees for multiple delivery platforms.

Why it matters

The lack of funding leads to:

  • Stalled launches
  • Weak marketing efforts
  • Inventory shortages
  • Poor customer retention
  • Limited scalability

What it takes:

  • Craft a solid dark kitchen business model to enhance your fundraising efforts
  • Develop a strong value proposition to clearly solve problems and gain investor loyalty
  • Craft a compelling pitch deck that tells your product/service story
  • Collaborate with established businesses to leverage their expertise

Regulatory compliance:

Local regulations regarding food safety and licensing can vary. To avoid shutdowns, ensure you understand and adhere to all the requirements.

Why it matters:

Difficulties with regulations mean:

  • Hefty fines
  • Reputational damage
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Limited growth potential

What it takes:

  • Invest in licensing to operate legally. Stay updated on renewal deadlines to avoid disruptions
  • Implement FSMS standards to manage food handling, cleanliness, temperature, pest control, and staff training
  • Train staff on food safety protocols to prevent contamination

Intense competition:

Dark kitchen startups often face fierce competition from established players and other new market entrants.

Why it matters:

A crowded market leads to:

  • Difficulty building brand identity
  • Customer churn
  • Strain delivery infrastructure

What it takes:

  • Build a strong brand identity with a brand voice, logo, and social media presence
  • Use targeted marketing to advertise for specific demographics within your delivery radius
  • Partner with established restaurants for shared kitchen space or co-branded menus, leveraging their existing customer base


Cloud kitchen vs. ghost kitchen: what is the difference?

Cloud kitchens host multiple restaurant brands in one space to cut costs, while ghost kitchens serve only one brand, focusing on specific menus. Both operate without dine-in areas, focusing solely on delivery.

What does the ghost kitchen mean?

A ghost kitchen, also sometimes called a virtual kitchen or dark kitchen, is a restaurant that operates entirely online. It doesn’t have a physical location for customers to dine in; instead, it focuses on preparing food for delivery and takeout orders.

How attractive is the industry to potential dark kitchen investors?

The dark kitchen industry is highly attractive to potential investors due to its rapid growth, lower overhead costs, and increasing consumer demand for food delivery services.

If you are a dark kitchens startup, how easy is it to raise funds today?

Raising funds as a dark kitchen startup can be challenging due to increasing competition and evolving market dynamics. However, ventures with strong value propositions and scalable dark kitchen business models can captivate investors.

How long does it take to create a pitch deck and financial model for a dark kitchen startup?

Creating all the documentation typically requires two to three weeks. However, the exact duration may vary depending on the project’s complexity and our team’s workload.

What are the key mistakes in pitch decks in dark kitchen startups?

Some decks lack a coherent investment narrative, dampening the overall impact and steering investors towards projects that showcase more clarity and promise. Second, many fail to address the pivotal ‘Why now?’ question, presenting a poor GTM strategy and business model. Finally, many decks fail to demonstrate traction and a solid competitive moat, leaving investors hesitant about their ability to disrupt the media market and bring profit.

How competitive is the dark kitchen market?

The dark kitchen market is highly competitive due to its low entry barriers and growing popularity.

What services do you provide for investors looking to invest or already investing in the dark kitchen sector?

We assist venture capitalists in evaluating their investment opportunities across the dark kitchen sector. Our team conducts thorough due diligence and presents findings in a concise, visually rich presentation packed with practical insights. We also provide comprehensive fundraising services to our partner fund’s portfolio companies.

Do you provide dark kitchen startup M&A support?

Yes, we do! We provide dark kitchens M&A assistance by searching for promising deals, evaluating them, and guaranteeing successful partnerships after the deal is finished.

Do you make intros to dark kitchen startup VCs?

Our experts connect startups with relevant VCs, evaluating team structure, product, and capital needs.

Do you have data or research available to purchase on the dark kitchens market?

Of course! Our analysts provide comprehensive dark kitchens market research. It includes industry reports and competitive analysis, all aimed to set you up for success. We use reliable proprietary data to ensure a full grasp of the dark kitchens industry, including market size, competition, and diversity analysis.

Which growth stage of companies have you worked with in the past?

We provide growth and fundraising support to dark kitchen startups from Pre-Seed through Series C and beyond.

Start your growth journey with us

Stepping into a dark kitchen landscape? We know the way. From end-to-end fundraising support to outsourced M&A guidance and growth blueprinting, Waveup will help you accelerate your journey to success. Drop us your email, and let's talk!

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