2010 CityLIGHTS Rising Star winner GrubHub.com gives us an update – and get ready to vote on 2011 ITA CityLIGHTS Awards finalists April 14th!

Last year, the ITA CityLIGHTS Awards honored GrubHub with our Rising Star award, for emerging from its start-up phase to achieve remarkable distinction. Mike Evans and Matt Maloney launched the company out of Mike’s apartment just six years earlier to “make ordering food easy and more convenient for people.” With their ascent now history – and this year’s Awards just around the corner – I decided to catch up with Mike for a quick recap of the last year.

Q: What are some of highlights of the last year?

A: Since winning the Rising Star Award last April, we’ve been hard at work. In November 2010, we secured $11 million through the Series C round of investment, led by Benchmark Capital, the investors behind OpenTable, Yelp, Zillow and eBay.

Last month, we raised another $20 million. This new round came after preemptive interest, and just four months after our Series C round. The Series D round of funding was led by DAG Ventures with participation from Benchmark Capital. We’ve raised $34 million to date.

Q: What is in store for 2011?

A: GrubHub is currently in the top 13 metro markets with over 13,000 restaurant menus on our site. We have one of the largest networks of independent restaurants. Within the next three months, we’ll list over 80,000 menus. By the end of this year, we plan to be in over 26 cities.

The new round of funding will further strengthen our momentum and enable us to expand our investment in R&D, acquisitions and mobile applications, while increasing our reach into new markets.

Q: Aside from advertising to consumers or clients, how have you raised your company’s visibility?

A: Sure, we’ve become more visible over the last year. But, honestly, this isn’t something worth seeking out. Building great products and serving a need is a better focus. High-quality products that serve a genuine market need will naturally get you visibility.

Q: What do you see going on in the Chicago tech industry right now?

A: We’ve stepped up to a new level in Chicago and the rest of the country is taking notice. The amount of entrepreneurial activity in the city right now is astounding. Eight of the 10 companies that went through the Excelerate Program got funding. And they deserve it. The amount of funding and talent flocking to Chicago right now is proof that something special is going on here.

Q: Besides a vacation, what is your top need today?

A: More great employees. As we expand into new markets and grow the company, we are continually adding to our staff. Tapping into Chicago’s amazing talent pool, we are hiring for everything from developers to rockstar customer service reps.

Q: As a past CityLIGHTS winner who obviously knows about success, how do you feel the technology community fares with less-than-successful ventures?

A: We are beginning to realize that failure isn’t a bad word. There used to be a big stigma associated with going for it and falling short. Now we are beginning to embrace these experiences as learning experiences that help us build better the next time. That is the nature of startups… some work out, some don’t. They are high risk and high reward.

Q: Be honest: Is the award in your office, in your home, or in front of a door propping it open?

A: The award is actually sitting in our front lobby. Winning the Rising Star Award was truly an honor for us. When Matt and I started GrubHub, it was just the two of us. We are now at 100 employees with plans of doubling our staff by the end of this year. The award represents all the hard work the GrubHub team has put into the company.

Are you a past honoree? Share with us what has happened since you won the ITA CityLIGHTS award! Are you a member of the Illinois technology community? Start voting April 14, when the ballots open for the 2011 ITA CityLIGHTS Awards. A record 20,000 people voted last year! Winners will be announced May 12 at the 12th Annual ITA CityLIGHTS Awards Gala. Reserve your seat now!

Find out who will be a finalist for the 2011 ITA CityLIGHTS Awards on Monday, April 18th and get ready to vote!

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