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Kune, the controversial Kenyan foodtech startup, has shut down



Kune, a Kenyan food tech startup that delivered ready-to-eat meals at affordable prices, is closing down today, the company’s founder and CEO Robin Reecht announced. 

In a statement posted to his LinkedIn page, Reecht cited a stifled economy and inflated food prices as circumstances that contributed to Kune’s closure. “With the current economic downturn and investment markets tightening up, we were unable to raise our next round. Coupled with rising food costs deteriorating our margins, we just couldn’t keep going,” he said.

The announcement comes just 4 months after the startup began its commercial operations at established meal centers around Nairobi. Around that time, Kune leadership also declared its intentions to raise $3.5 million in its second round of funding.

But while Kune was well-liked by its customers, the startup’s journey wasn’t without its fair share of controversy. Last June, Reecht faced the mighty lash of Kenyans on Twitter (best known as KoT) after he shared in a TechCrunch interview that he was inspired to launch Kune after taking a trip to Kenya in November 2020 and having trouble finding affordable, ready-to-eat meals. 

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“After three days of coming into Kenya, I asked where I can get great food at a cheap price, and everybody tell [sic] me it’s impossible,” he said. “It’s impossible because either you go to the street and you eat street food, which is really cheap but with not-so-good quality, or you order on Uber Eats, Glovo or Jumia, where you get quality but you have to pay at least $10.”

Reecht, who is white and French, founded Kune just one month later. 

Kenyans were aggrieved by his comments, and did not hesitate to voice their critiques.  They argued that Reecht’s ability to secure funding so quickly was due more to his white privilege than his business plan, which some believed aimed to solve a nonexistent problem. Those discussions gave way to a larger conversation about white privilege and favouritism in tech, as well as Kenya’s neglect of its local founders

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In his statement, Reecht said that even though Kune had sold more than 55,000 meals and acquired more than 6,000 individual customers and 100 corporate customers since the start of the year, its $3 per meal price point wasn’t enough to sustain its growth.

Addressing Kune’s investors, he said, “Not only did you invest in Kune but you gave us your time, brain-width, connections, and emotional support. I am deeply sorry that Kune’s vision didn’t come true. To betray your confidence is something for which I will never forgive myself.”

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