Expa, a startup studio that builds multiple companies in parallel, was founded by Uber and StumbleUpon co-founder Garrett Camp in 2014. At its core, Expa operates in the grey area between accelerators, incubators and venture capital funds, working with founders to develop and launch new companies.
While the studio only works with a few companies at a time, Expa’s Soho space is a hotbed for innovation. We caught up with four startups who launched out of Expa, and are subsequently bringing their products to the masses in New York City.
Reserve is a digital service that melds hospitality and technology, ultimately helping restaurants and guests connect. Backed by $15 million in venture funding to date, Reserve is focused on improving the dining experience. On the guest side of the equation, the platform works like a concierge service offering customized restaurant recommendations. The service also easily allows customers to pay though Reserve’s app at the end of the meal. The company also partners with restaurants to assist with table management solutions.
To date, Reserve has worked with over 600 restaurants in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Chicago. Headquartered in Union Square, Reserve currently has 30 staff members in New York, and 60 employees spread throughout the country.
Ando, a recent upstart from Momofuku restaurant group founder, David Chang, recently launched after many years in the making. Chang interned for Mario Batali 11 years ago, during which Batali insisted that Chang learn about food delivery systems. Chang officially launched Ando in May of this year.
The service specifically focuses on leveraging technology and food science to deliver restaurant-quality food to customers. Chang partnered with Expa after meeting Expa partner Hooman Radfar through friends. Hooman was founder of the marketing automation company AddThis (which was acquired by Oracle), had previously invested in Sweetgreen and has been involved in several logistics-focused companies such as Uber and Washio. He saw opportunities to create a concept in the food world leveraging digital marketing and logistics technology, and was interested in exploring a mobile-only, food delivery concept. While Momofuku was looking for a partner that had the logistical, technical and startup experience to launch Ando, Expa fit the bill.
Kit operates as a social networking site where users can discover, discuss and recommend products — all grouped into categories of interest, or ‘kits.’ The service is trying to solve product recommendations, and help people find and discover more products by way of community creators. Kit announced a new partner program in July, which allows creators to make money using the platform from sales generated from kits and opportunities to participate in branded sponsorships.
Current is a money-transfer service for Slack. Using the service, users can pay their co-workers without leaving the popular messaging service. Ultimately, the company aims to expand into other popular messaging services and social media apps, to provide a money-transfer service natively in platforms where people already interact.