Reflecting On Haystack’s Investment In BentoBox

Almost seven years ago, mutual friends introduced me to Krystle Mobayeni. She lived in NYC but was visiting the Bay Area to raise money for her startup. I recall meeting her a few times in/around Palo Alto, in particular the new Blue Bottle as it opened up downtown. With her quiet voice and unassuming frame, I will admit it took me a few meetings to see what was going on with her new idea to empower local bars, restaurants, and food trucks — and then wham! — it hit me: Krystle was not just a product designer, but a product design genius.

Once I finally realized that (thanks, Krystle, for being patient with me), that became stage 1 of a long-term friendship and partnership with her. Haystack is proud to have not just invested in BentoBox since the very beginning, but in every subsequent round thereafter. More on this toward the end. For a fund as small as Haystack’s was back then (a modest $3.2M fund), we backed up our mini-truck (haha) to back Krystle. And I’m glad we did.

Krystle’s original insight was that while WordPress and Squarespace were workable for these SMBs, bars, restaurants, etc. needed a more focused version. The first time I walked through her product, it clicked — it almost worked like Slack. From there, she demonstrated an incredible ability to build a team, to delegate, to attract highly relevant investment groups with experience in food and hospitality, and to raise capital smartly. Again, more on this below.

We’d like to congratulate the entire BentoBox team on their hard work, dedication, and for plowing ahead through Covid. We all remember (maybe?) those initial months were brutal for SMBs and bars/restaurants, etc. Krystle and her team navigated shutdowns and continued to supply their customers with new product offerings to battle through. Speaking of battles, it should be noted that Krystle, while not vocal herself, raised capital from some of the best investors in the world (our friends at Bullpen, Threshold, and Goldman Sachs) — in particular, raising her last growth round during a pandemic while 8-9 months pregnant with her first child. (Read that line again.)

BentoBox was just acquired by Fiserv (public company) for an undisclosed sum. Krystle is not the type to seek any press around this, and if you Google this online, you won’t find much. That’s her style. And while it’s not my story to tell, what I can share is that Fund II was fortunate to make a meaningful holiday distribution to our Fund II LPs yesterday, entirely driven by Krystle and her team. For this, we are eternally grateful.