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Kitopi: A Cloud Kitchen for the World


No more strolling the streets for a decent meal - Kitopi will bring the food you crave via clouds!

The way the world eats has modified dramatically in the last few years. While 2 decades ago, kitchen-quality food delivery was limited to Chinese food and pizza, today you can order whatever you want.

Food delivery has turned into a global market worth over $150 billion and seems like Mohamed Ballout could sense the world will need a platform that will help restaurants to launch delivery-only locations.

Kitopi, or Kitchen Utopia, is a leading cloud kitchen platform that works with restaurants to help them to expand their food delivery reach and grow their businesses. With its mission to “satisfy the world’s appetite”, Kitopi is creating history by partnering with more than 200 brands and operating in over 60 kitchens across 5 countries.

Stay with us and unravel the story of how Mohamed Ballout came to the idea to create a real rising star in the global food delivery market!

The Brave Boy that Became an Investor

Mohamed was born in the United Arab Emirates, being a brave and very social kid and that had a lot of friends. As a teenager, Mohamed worked in a sweet shop, since his uncle owned the shop. While working there, Mohamed saw the challenges his uncle faced with chocolate dealers. After earning himself a Bachelor of Science, Mathematics and Economics from the University of Warwick, and a Master of Science (MA) Management from Imperial College London, Mohamed co-founded a BMB company (Baklawa Made Better) with his brother Bilal and his cousin Mohamed. Using a bank loan, the cousins rented a small warehouse to trade in various baked and chocolate goods.

A few years later, in 2016, Mohamed sold his shares in BMB to an equity group and became an investor. Switching business environments, Mohamed was surrounded by the entrepreneurial community related to the food industry, which immediately grabbed his attention. While he was an investor in a private equity firm, he worked with restaurant owners, and he understood that scaling was the biggest concern for most of them.

He believed that there had to be a simpler way to enable restaurants to increase their food delivery reach, and their sales, without breaking the bank by launching new locations in old-style brick and mortar outlets.

From Best Friends To Business Partners

So, in 2017, Mohamed called one of his best childhood friends, Saman Darkan, as he had tremendous experience in startups and digital transformation, to pitch his idea.

Saman, who holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Management Information Science from California State University, Chico, supported Mohamed’s idea. The two friends, Mohamed and Saman, put their heads together and visualized what kind of company they will create, and in December 2017, they started building their platform.

Their concept of cloud kitchens was great, and in 2018, when Kitopi was officially launched, 2 more experts came on board. One of them was the popular Bader Ataya, who is a former managing partner and co-founder of the platform Mumzworld, who joined the Kitopi team as Chief Growth Officer. The other one was Andres Arenas, who took the role of Chief Property Officer at Kitopi. Andres had a food goods production background in Peru, which was an enormous plus for him and Kitopi.

The four friends joined their skills and experience and built something that they were passionate about. But that’s not all! Mohamed, Saman, Bader, and Andres were working on a pretty complex problem, but since they knew the food market very well, they knew how to deal with it.

Good Things Take Time

As expected, 2018 was a year full of mistakes and challenges, but the four friends didn’t give up and continued their mission to “satiate the world’s appetite”. Recognizing that not building an effective playbook before expanding was their biggest mistake in the first year, Mohamed, Saman, Bader, and Andres decided to try new things.

As Kitopi continued to grow, it started to employ different strategies to ensure the company’s stability, mainly in the middle of uncertainty. The Kitopi team's attitude brought Shop Kitopi to the public in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they realized that consumers had to wait for a few days to get their groceries and essentials, which resulted in a solution that provides delivery all over Dubai in up to 90 minutes.

Creating and maintaining solid partnerships is crucial, as it guarantees success. Mohamed, Saman, Bader, and Andres agree that success lies in investing a lot of time to work closely with other partner brands to understand them better and find a way to grow together. The popular subscription-based meals that Kitopi offered for their customers brought immense fame for Kitopi and attracted more investors.

When the COVID pandemic continued to shatter the ground in 2020, Kitopi hit $412 million in raising funds. This company, such as some of its rivals in the food industry, started with online orders. The Kitopi team worked jointly with all brands and distribution partners to coach consumers on safety and health practices. They aimed to improve the kitchens to be more efficient and to meet all the safety standards.

Reinventing the Food Industry, Kitopi-style

Kitopi, as a modern company, started using artificial intelligence to spot anomalies in restaurants and kitchens. It helped ensure that employees were wearing masks as they should be, washing their hands for at least 20 seconds, among other sanitary requirements. Mohamed and his team believed that if they identify the anomaly, they can rectify it instantly.

2021 was a glorious year for Kitopi. Mohamed, Samar, Bader, and Andres supported the ecosystem in which their company operated. They invited micro-businesses and food and beverage brands that were struggling with problems to join their platform. With the help of the government and Kitopi’s distribution and brand partners, Kitopi distributed free meals to those people and families who were impacted by the corona pandemic.

Even though 2022 has just started, Kitopi has already done something significant. The company launched its first kitchens in Qatar and Bahrain, so Mohamed and his team expect a very productive year.

Securing Solid Financial Grounds

Kitopi has raised $504M in funding so far. The Seed round earned the company $1.8 million. There were only 2 investors, and Crescent Enterprises was the more generous one. Mohamed and his team were even happier when they saw that Series A raised $27.2. There were 7 investors in total, with BEKO Capital as the leading one. In a Series B funding, Kitopi raised another $60 million.

Mohamed was surprised to see that the number of investors is growing and that now there were 10 investors. This time, Knollwood Investment Advisory, Lumia Capital emerged as the lead investors. The fourth round called Series C is Mohamed’s favorite as the company raised a whopping $415 million with only 7 investors. So far, Kitopi was funded by 19 investors, and Nordstar and Chimera Investment are the most recent investors.

So far, Kitopi doesn’t offer a glance into a possible IPO, but Mohamed, Samar, Bader, and Andres are surely thinking about it, and it probably won’t be long befre they announce their plans.

Shooting for the Stars

All things considered, Kitopi will surely continue growing in the future. The team behind Kitopi is going to use its new funding as fuel to continue the company’s expansion in the Middle East. Kitopi will keep improving its services and include innovations to expand its infrastructure and to grow new strategic kitchen partnerships.

Headquartered in Dubai, the company will also use the funding to support the entry to absolutely new markets, including Southeast Asia. With more than 3.000 employees, Kitopi is rushing to launch kitchens in new regions shortly. Fending off competition coming from companies like Kitchen United Mix, GrubHub, and Deliverect, among others, Kitopi did its best in delivering its customers top-notch service.

By 2030, the kitchen market is predicted to be worth $1 trillion. With a global head office in Dubai and offices in Saudi Arabia, Kitopi will move towards regional and international domination.

They started 2022 with success, and they hope to enter the food market in new countries this year. Kitopi has changed the food market a lot so far, and it is a matter of time before it will become the most powerful cloud kitchen platform!