Food Fight

FoodToEat Takes on Seamless and GrubHub With Low Fees and Food Trucks

deepti sharma kapur FoodToEat Takes on Seamless and GrubHub With Low Fees and Food Trucks

Ms. Kapur.

As if Seamless didn’t have enough to worry about with GrubHub nipping at its heels. Ever heard of online food ordering service FoodToEat? Maybe not, as the young startup has been quietly growing in beta. But FoodToEat launched in June 2011 and after a recent redesign, founder Deepti Sharma Kapur, 25, is ready to feed her public.

FoodToEat offers food from 500 restaurants, and Ms. Kapur charges vendors just $.10 per order–a huge savings compared to her competitors, who she said charge between 10 and 18 percent.

FoodToEat has also signed up 50 food trucks, thanks in part to the fact that Ms. Kapur speaks four languages. The original inspiration for the site came when she was preparing for the LSAT and pondering how many minutes of studying the long line at Treats Truck would cost her.

FoodToEat designed a three-way system to get orders to the truck operators. Trucks can choose to receive orders via a lightweight GPRS printer, for which FoodToEat built custom software, or through emails sent to their smartphones. For trucks that have Wifi, orders appear on the website. “We’re the only ones that have ever worked with food trucks in this kind of way,” Ms. Kapur said.

Ms. Kapur is also targeting the corporate clients that helped Seamless conquer Manhattan. But she’s able to keep her costs low because FoodToEat’s business model is based on advertising and data collection. Once FoodToEat has enough volume, it will be able to collect large amounts of data from different types of vendors. The startup’s close relationship with vendors, Ms. Kapur said, gives them an advantage with monetizable data collection and advertising.

FoodToEat has more than 1,500 registered users, Ms. Kapur said, and the vendors range from ten McDonald’s franchises to chicken-and-rice carts to the gourmet West Village hotspot Rickshaw dumplings. The restaurants and food trucks offer a mix of delivery and pickup.

Betabeat commented that Ms. Kapur seemed awfully calm given her plan to take on two wildly successful websites. “Our goal is not to bring them down,” she said. “Our goal is to be healthy competitors.” Seamless and GrubHub can’t compete on price, she said, because they’re too entrenched and too big.

FoodToEat has apps coming in the next two weeks for iPhone and Android, and is already scheming a pilot launch in Los Angeles. Ms. Kapur, who raised $500,000 in funding from family and friends, has eight employees in an office in Midtown East. The company will raise a series A soon, she said.

So, what happened to the LSATs? “I did end up taking them,” she said. “It’s just this idea was too strong for me. I felt like this was the age to work on a startup and take such a high risk.” She’s already working on her next business: SeekATable.com.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated Ms. Kapur’s age. She is 25, not 26. Betabeat regrets the error.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com