REEF’s Neighborhood Kitchens

Connecting the World to your Block — Backing REEF Technology’s $1 Billion Investment Round

By Ben Kaminski, Jorge Fontúrbel, & Florian Unger

Our portfolio company REEF Technology secured today one of the largest funding rounds in Target Global’s history, raising $700m in growth equity led by Mubadala with participation from Softbank, Oaktree Capital Management, UBS Asset Management and Target Global. Additionally, REEF and Oaktree signed an agreement to form the Neighborhood Fund, a $300 million joint investment vehicle to acquire strategic real estate assets.

It might be surprising that this milestone has come at a time of such global uncertainty, but REEF is a great example of a rare thing: a company with both a bold vision and the discipline to make it a reality, combined with the flexibility to weather even the disruption of a major global crisis.

This article will look at why we invested in REEF and explain the company vision to transform today’s cities for good.

Our World is Changing — So Should Our Infrastructure

Today’s cities don’t have the last-mile and last-block infrastructure required to handle this increase. Even before the pandemic, New York City was seeing 1.5 million packages delivered every day, even though Manhattan traffic can only achieve an average speed of 8mph. With parking scarce, delivery companies in New York have started to simply factor in parking fines on their balance sheets as an inevitable cost.

Delivery Life in NYC

This is exacerbated by the simple fact that more people are living in cities. Today, approximately 84% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, up from 64% in 1950. By 2050 this figure is expected to rise to 89% for the U.S. and 68% for the entire world.

REEF is committed to lead the transformation of the cities we live in today. By transforming its distributed real estate network of more than 4,500 parking lots and garages into Neighborhood Hubs, REEF leverages the power of proximity to connect people and neighborhoods to locally curated goods, services, and experiences. This way, whether you are an entrepreneur, a growing local business, or a global brand, REEF provides the platform businesses need to deliver their products locally at scale and transform cities into more sustainable and neighborhood-centric economies.

Meteoric Growth

Proximity as a Service

REEF is building the ecosystem that connects the world to your block

One of the use cases was to transform food delivery by using REEF’s infrastructure and transform it from a heavily subsidized peer-to-peer delivery model into a profitable hub-and-spoke model. With restaurants forced to close to diners during the pandemic, marrying dark kitchens with REEF’s urban hubs was a perfect fit. In fact most of the consumer trends of the pandemic, like kerb-side pickup, mesh perfectly with REEF’s model.

Urban hubs are also a boon for delivery companies. Improvements in logistics and services have seen a huge shift in customer expectations: consumers are used to ordering products and services online, and they expect delivery to be fast, even for non-essential goods that are non-perishable. They also want delivery to be eco-friendly, and not create disruption and noise in their neighbourhoods. And of course they don’t want to pay much for it. It’s a huge ask.

Customer expectations vs. provider capabilities for shipping (Source: Temando)

To meet these high expectations, large companies need infrastructure close to their customers. Reef has partnered with some of the largest delivery players to provide environmentally friendly last-block delivery. Deliveries are brought to the parking location in a standard freight vehicle before being transferred to an e-bike for the final part of the journey.

REEF is working with global players to transform last mile delivery

A less cheerful, but extremely important use case: parking locations are a perfect place for COVID-19 testing sites. They’re open, well-ventilated, and easy for people to reach without unnecessary contact, thus minimizing exposure and transmission. REEF was quick to offer up its 5,000 parking locations in the fight against COVID-19, allowing people faster access to testing and freeing up much-needed healthcare resources elsewhere.

So What can we learn from REEF’s success?

A solid company is able to ride these disruptions and demonstrate the agility to adapt and thrive. They also have the vision to see the opportunity in the problem. This is usually rooted in empathy: understanding what people really need and how to provide it to them.

Many companies are bold enough to try new things, but there isn’t always much cohesion underpinning these experiments. What sets REEF apart is the clear-headedness to fold a broad variety of projects into a unified business model, and the discipline and drive to make it all a reality. In that, the REEF team has achieved something genuinely special and rare.

This is the perfect example of what we’re looking for in the Target Global Mobility Fund. REEF shows that even large companies can be agile, and even a major crisis doesn’t mean abandoning your core proposition.

Indeed, flexibility is built into REEF’s business. REEF is taking the old restrictive model of parking locations — narrow use-case, limited customer base — and opening them up to be whatever the local community needs, ensuring there’s always a service and always a customer, even if the details change.

From our dedicated Mobility Fund at Target Global we have been excited about the transformation of last-mile logistics in complex urban environments. Since our first meeting with Ari Ojalvo in 2018, we have been big believers in the power of proximity and decentralized hubs that REEF has created across the US. We are excited to continue supporting REEF on their journey, and we look forward to the next stage of growth for the company.

Launched in 2018, the Target Global Mobility 2.0 Fund is the first multi-stage evergreen fund investing in the Automotive, Transportation, and Logistics sector. The Fund is composed of a unique team of successful mobility investors, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs. The fund provides unmatched access to key mobility hubs across Europe and Israel, facilitating cooperation between start-up ecosystems and strategic players in the mobility industry. More about Target Global: https://www.targetglobal.vc/

International #venturecapital firm with €1.5b+ AuM. Focusing on fast-growing #tech companies across their lifecycles. #targetteam https://www.targetglobal.vc/

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