Kune Food, the startup that sought to disrupt or innovate the ready-to-eat meals industry in the country through a cloud kitchen, has closed down its operations in Kenya barely a year after its launch.
The startup was founded in December 2020 by Robin Reecht, then conducted a trial in early 2021 before officially kicking off its on-demand food service in August.
Reecht announced Kune’s closure in a LinkedIn post shared Wednesday, saying the startup failed to raise funds to keep up operations while keeping its food prices low.
“Sad day. Kune Food closed down today. Since the beginning of the year, we sold more than 55,000 meals, acquired more than 6,000 individual customers and 100 corporate customers. But at $3 per meal, it just wasn’t enough to sustain our growth,” wrote Reecht.
He blamed what he called economic downturn and tightening up of the investment markets for the 10-month-old startup’s shutdown.
“With the current economic downturn and investment markets tightening up, we were unable to raise our next round. Coupled with rising food costs deteriorating our margins, we just couldn’t keep going,” he added.
Kune had until now taken up 90 staff for its operations which involved preparing fresh meals in the company’s factory, packaging them and delivering them directly to online, retail and corporate customers at arguably affordable prices.
Two months ahead of its launch last year, the company closed a Ksh.112M ($1 million) pre-seed round and also borrowed an undisclosed amount from a bank in Kenya.
Its launch was shrouded in controversy from Kenyans online over comments Reecht made regarding Kenya’s food culture after securing the funding.
“After three days of coming into Kenya, I asked where I can get great food at a cheap price, and everybody told me it’s impossible,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s impossible because either you go to the street and you eat street food, which is really cheap but with not-so-good quality, or you order on Uber Eats, Glovo or Jumia, where you get quality but you have to pay at least $10,” he told American outlet TechCrunch at the time.
The comments received heavy backlash, with many equating it to the common “white saviour” mentality and “white privilege” that many Western, white people have whenever they land on the continent.
That notwithstanding, earlier this year the startup said it was raising Ksh.4.1 billion ($3.5 million) from local and international investors to boost their production capacity.
So far, Kune’s investors included pan-African venture capital firm Launch Africa Ventures, Century Oak Capital GmbH and Consonance. The startup also received investment contributions from Kenya-based community-led marketplace Pariti.
“Many things could have been done differently, better certainly. The coming months will allow us to reflect on Kune’s failure, and I hope to share about it when the time will be right,” Reecht added.