Lunchbox founder Nabeel Alamgir has worked his way up from bussing tables at a fast food chain to securing $20 million in VC funding.
5 min read
This story originally appeared on Vertical Media
Since COVID-19 took indoor dining off the table, restaurants have resorted to takeout and delivery, often relying on third-party platforms like Uber Eats and GrubHub, which charge commissions from 15 to 30 percent per order. Nabeel Alamgir, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi-American based in New York, believes he has the solution to help restaurants cut down on such expenses.
A former busboy at Bareburger, in 2019 Nabeel founded Lunchbox, an online ordering platform that helps restaurants reduce their dependence on third-party marketplaces. In addition to web and app design, Lunchbox handles point-of-sale operations, online orders, marketing, loyalty programs, and data-crunching for restaurants.
An alternative for restaurant chains and ghost kitchens
Unlike most marketplaces, which charge clients on a per-order basis, Lunchbox has a flat monthly fee per location for chain restaurants. “We help restaurants convert third-party sales, GrubHub sales, into first-party sales,” Nabeel explained.
“They’re not just about saving money—it’s also a question of, increasing margins,” the techpreneur says. According to Nabeel, for every $100 a consumer spends on Lunchbox, the restaurant makes around a $25 profit, compared to $5 when the sales are through a third-party platform.
In an effort to reach smaller businesses, Lunchbox has partnered with C3 platform and created CitizenGo, an app where people can order directly from ghost kitchens. Nabeel believes they have helped minority chefs broaden their customer base. The app offers pickup options across C3’s network, which includes about 200 communities. Delivery is available in LA, Northern California, NYC, and Chicago.
Fast food learning
Nabeel, who was featured on the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list, moved to the U.S. in 2005 as a 14-year old. Though he didn’t speak English, he managed to find a job, working as a busboy at Bareburger to support his family. At the time a standalone restaurant, Bareburger is now a franchise boasting over 50 outlets, in a way mirroring Nabeel’s own entrepreneurial success.
Nabeel learned English watching Martin Scorsese films and worked his way up the corporate ladder to become Bareburger’s chief marketing officer. It was while working for the burger chain that Nabeel got firsthand experiences with third-party delivery companies, observing their predatory practices and getting the feeling that customers were being exploited. He had two failed startups before launching Lunchbox.
These days, he feels that New York City is coming back to life, and looks like a great place to raise venture capital in 20