Foxtrot Announces $100 Million Series C Funding; UChicago Ups Investment in the NVC Alum
Foxtrot on Tuesday announced $100 million in new funding and plans to open 50 stores over the next two years, a huge expansion for the Chicago Booth-born startup as it reimagines the convenience store for the upscale, modern consumer.
The Series C round, led by D1 Capital Partners, brings Chicago-based Foxtrot’s total funding to $160 million. The UChicago Startup Investment Program added $500,000 to the round, bringing the University’s total investment in Foxtrot to $1.65 million to date.
Foxtrot was founded by CEO Mike La Vitola, MBA ’14, and CTO Taylor Bloom as a project for the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, Chicago Booth’s pioneering startup accelerator for MBAs and graduate students at the University of Chicago.
Foxtrot is among more than a dozen companies to have received investment from the UChicago Startup Investment Program, a vehicle through which the University co-invests alongside established venture funds in startups led by UChicago faculty, students, staff and alumni. Others participating in Foxtrot’s Series C include existing investors Monogram, Imaginary, Almanac, Wittington, Fifth Wall, and Beliade as well as historical investors Lerer Hippeau and Revolution.
Foxtrot, which less than a year ago announced a $42 million Series B, has been growing fast as it marries digital and in-person convenience with relevant branding and merchandising that keeps customers keep coming back.
The startup began as an under-an-hour delivery service for a curated selection of snacks and beverages, an idea that came to LaVitola as ecommerce was going mobile and he was a twentysomething business school student living in River North and wanting more interesting options than could be found at 7-Eleven.
The focus shifted to bricks and mortar after its founders discovered well-located, well-appointed retail stores help drive marketing and serve as distribution centers. The company now offers 30-minute delivery, 5-minute pickup, and nationwide shipping.
Foxtrot, which currently operates 16 retail locations in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, DC, plans to use its new funding to open 25 new stores in 2022 and another 25 in 2023, including in premier Chicago locations at Tribune Tower, Willis Tower, and near Wrigley Field. It also plans to expand into new markets, rolling out stores in Austin and Boston this year and in New York, Nashville, and Miami next year.
The stores serve café items, smoothies and espresso drinks, plus sell grab-and-go meals and a curated selection of pantry items, wines, craft beers, and on-trend products. Foxtrot, which emphasizes supporting local brands and emerging suppliers, said nearly a quarter of all shelf space will be reserved for locally sourced items.
It also plans to ramp up its private-label portfolio, with some 200 new private-label products set to launch this year. Foxtrot-branded products account for 30% of its retail offerings and nearly half of all sales.
The expansion comes with a hiring spree. Foxtrot plans to triple its headcount over the next 12 months, prioritizing engineering talent to optimize logistics, store payments, inventory management, personalization, and its loyalty program, called Perks.
“As we exit the pandemic and our lives continue to normalize following a challenging and eye-opening two years, we expect that retail and hospitality will become increasingly important in creating a sense of community and driving discovery in a world that’s been lacking this experience for quite some time,” LaVitola said in a press release. “With this new round of funding, we’ll continue to accelerate the expansion of our brick and mortar presence, enter new and emerging markets and double down on new store formats that answer consumer demand for immersive programming and highly curated assortment.”
LaVitola detailed his founder story in a podcast interview last summer as part of a Polsky Center series marking the 25thanniversary of the New Venture Challenge.