Cayena raises $3.5 million from global investors to further accelerate growth


Making procurement simple in Latin America: that is the purpose of Cayena, the B2B marketplace that has just raised a Series A investment round of $3.5 million, led by Picus Capital. The round also included participation from FEMSA Ventures, Astella Investimentos, FJ Labs, MSA Capital, Grão VC, Noa Capital and TAP Development. The company’s existing investors Canary and Norte Ventures also participated the round.

Founded by Gabriel Sendacz, Pedro Carvalho and Raymond Shayo, Cayena is a B2B marketplace for the $100b+ wholesale food industry in Latin America. The company allows restaurants, bars, hotels, and dark kitchens to procure their inventory from multiple suppliers with next day delivery and a comprehensive suite of add-on services. “We realized that food service does not need more trucks or warehouses, but more technology”, says Carvalho. “With Cayena, restaurant owners can browse the inventory of the best suppliers, which are pre-qualified by Cayena, without having to contact each one of them individually and having access to everything in a single place. Those who sell through Cayena, in turn, get an incremental and recurring demand instantly.”

The platform is available via website or app, both for iOS and Android. Currently, the startup already sells supplies that are equivalent to more than 500,000 monthly meals served by its customers – more than 90% of these supplies are delivered the next day with free shipping.

With this financing round, the company intends to focus its efforts on technology, building out ancillary service offerings and most importantly hiring. Cayena aims to significantly increase its team size by more than tripling the current workforce of 25 employees over the next 12 months, with a special focus on tech positions. The goal is to invest in user experience and make the product even more intuitive for Cayena’s current customers and all other players in the sector, which are still far from being digitized.

B2B marketplaces and their opportunities

In addition, Cayena estimates to reach more than R$100 million in transaction value next year.

“We strongly believe in the B2B marketplace model as a way to improve the most needed market in the world: food. We achieved alignment of interests of all involved parties by optimizing the workflow for suppliers and helping already great restaurants to become great businesses as well”, says Carvalho. “It is a win-win business model and the product’s remarkable acceptance proves it: in the past year, we have doubled the transaction value every 3 months”.

The significant traction generated strong visibility with restaurants, suppliers and CPGs. “We see B2B marketplace dynamics providing great innovation potential globally and believe the B2B food delivery space is still ripe for technology enhancement & disruption. It’s a complex model to establish and scale, but we are very impressed with Cayena’s execution to date”, says Julian Roeoes, Partner and Head of Americas at Picus Capital. In B2B marketplaces the higher average transaction values & order frequency are highly attractive, and we see a number of natural complementary services & monetization opportunities that go far beyond commissions on transaction volumes.”

“Investing globally through a China lens in supply chain digitization, we have monitored restaurant procurement players evolving across all major regions. Cayena is poised to be Latam’s breakout winner due to its team’s ability to execute and constantly iterate on the product. We are excited to partner with Cayena to impart best practices derived from China and other emerging markets”, says Ben Harburg, Managing Partner at MSA Capital.

The opportunity tackled by Cayena’s appetite is gigantic: according to Food Consulting, Brazil currently has 1.3 million food service outlets and is the fourth largest market on the planet in terms of revenue, behind the US, China and Japan. In 2020, procurement for food supplies totaled R$573 billion, according to ABIA (Brazilian Association of the Food Industry). In addition, it is estimated that B2B marketplaces, such as Cayena, should move up to US$ 3.6 trillion in 2024, according to data from the consulting firm specialized in financial services, iBe TSD Ltda.

Long-established partnership delivering 30x growth during the pandemic

Cayena founders Gabriel Sendacz, Pedro Carvalho and Raymond Shayo have been friends for over a decade. The trio met during college in São Paulo, and began their careers in the financial industry, but they always had the ambition to start their own business to provide innovation & digitization for Latin American companies.

Gabriel gained years of commercial experience in Private Equity at Neo Investimentos, where he invested in many fast-growing B2B companies in various sectors. Pedro has combined experiences in Investment Banking, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and the restaurants sector, from more than a decade following the family business, owning the largest Japanese food delivery chain in Salvador. Raymond began his career in the Investment Banking division of JP Morgan and later worked in the Private Equity division at Brookfield Asset Management.

The company started operating in late 2019, still under the name Poupachef (“Chef’s saving”, in a literal translation), referencing its mission to help restaurant owners to save money. The rebranding to Cayena, made in 2021, aims to highlight the startup’s boldness to “spice up” the underserved food service sector. Furthermore, it is also a name that works in different languages, evidencing the company’s global intentions.

In early 2020, the startup raised its first investments round, led by Canary and with participation from Norte Ventures. “We invested in Cayena since the beginning because we saw that, behind an innovative solution for a market with huge potential, there was a very prepared, ambitious and willing team”, explains Marcos Toledo, managing partner at Canary.

Shortly thereafter, Cayena experienced the Covid-19 pandemic as a first challenge, having a profound impact on food service sector in Brazil. Despite the crisis, the startup managed to help its customers survive in these turbulent times and rather saw this as an accelerated opportunity for tech-adoption and an increased desire to run more efficient operations by restaurants and suppliers. Accordingly, Cayena delivered a 30x growth and maintained sales retention above 100% over the past 12 months.