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    Boston catering marketplace ezCater takes on international expansion

    EzCater connects restaurants with businesses in need of food for a company gathering.
    EzCater connects restaurants with businesses in need of food for a company gathering.

    EzCater, the Boston startup that has grown into the dominant marketplace for business catering in the United States, has its eye on international expansion.

    The company announced early Tuesday that it has taken in $100 million in new investment from venture capitalists, a cash infusion that it says will help it begin to roll out its service in other countries.

    EzCater, which has its headquarters on Arch Street, isn’t a food preparation or delivery service. Instead, it makes a platform that connects restaurants, caterers, and drivers with businesspeople who are arranging meals for their next workplace gathering.


    The service is available in more than 22,700 cities and towns, according to the company. EzCater chief executive Stefania Mallett said ezCater has been growing rapidly thanks to its ability to serve customers, particularly salespeople, even when they are traveling in unfamiliar markets.

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    “This allows us to extend our reach to take on the rest of the world,” she said of the new investment.

    She said the company soon would announce specific areas where it will be available overseas.

    The new funding means ezCater has now accepted $170 million from investors, which makes it one of Boston’s largest woman-led tech startups. Boston-based Wellington Management, whose startup investments include the co-working giant WeWork, led the latest investment round.

    Mallett said she believes the business has caught hold of a pair of overlapping trends.


    For one, she said, the proliferation of on-demand services such as Uber has led people to expect even complicated services to be available for quick online purchase. Further, she said, more businesses are buying prepared food, both to impress prospective clients and as a perk for workers.

    “I don’t know if it’s becoming the expectation and therefore restaurants are making it easier, or whether restaurants and online portals like ours are making it easier so it’s becoming the expectation,” Mallett said. “I can’t tell you which is the chicken and which is the egg.”

    The company cited industry statistics that estimate the size of the business catering market at about $22 billion, and it said it expects its platform to process about $1 billion in bookings by next year. The company has about 325 employees in Boston and 50 more in Colorado.

    Though the market for business catering remains smaller than catering for social and personal events, Mallett said businesses are much more prone to common, repeat business. That means that if somebody uses the service once and likes it, he or she is likely to use it again.

    The company offers services designed for business customers, such as a program that transmits transaction records directly to a company’s accounting software. She said people will sometimes use ezCater for social events such as graduation ceremonies, but that is often because the user knew about the service from a work event.


    “We are optimized for the business person,“ she said.

    Andy Rosen can be reached at