For people who might not have time to grocery shop or lack inspiration when cooking after work, Santa Monica, CA-based Fresh Dish is looking to provide an easier way to make a meals at home. CEO Steve Goldstein said the company is targeting new families and professionals who are crunched for time and want healthy meals from scratch: the company delivers seasoning, ingredients, and a recipe that delivers “home-cooked meals in 30 minutes.” Incubated at Science, the startup announced today its launch out of beta in addition to $500,000 in funding from Battery Ventures.
Goldstein spent eight years before launching the company at providee-commerce, which has been responsible for launching brands like ProFlowers, Shari’s Berries, and ProPlants, and where he worked to grow their gourmet food offering. He decided to capitalize on meal preparation, what he saw was an opportunity for recurring purchases with a pain point in his own life. “I worked, my wife worked, we have a five-year-old son and meal time is a huge challenge for us, especially during the week,” said Goldstein in an interview. “From the time it takes to figure out what to make, to actually going shopping, and then really measuring all the ingredients, and cooking it. Then a couple of hours later trying to enjoy the meal when everybody is hungry, stressed, and tired, so we thought there must be a better way to do this.”
Fresh Dish’s alternative for the traditional approach of driving to a grocery store, doing the grocery shopping, driving back, cooking, and then eating is a process that according to the company takes 10 minutes on the computer and 30 minutes in cooking time. Each week users select from a handful of meals with recipes prepared by top chefs and then Fresh Dish will pick out fresh groceries and ingredients on the weekend and get everything ready to deliver via FedEx for the packages to arrive on Tuesday. The subscription service lets customers stop for a week if they’re away or have other plans.
“We deliver all the ingredients pre-prepped, measured, direct to the consumer with the recipe and within 30 minutes from start to finish they have a delicious home-cooked meal,” Goldstein added. “People, especially working professionals really want to feel the ownership of cooking and providing for their family…people feel like it tastes better, they feel pride in what they make, they want to share it with their families, and then take photos.”
The meals come out to $8 per person per meal, and the company currently offering a subscription service and looking to launch a meal plan option where users can prepay for a given number of meals and order them when they wish. It will also be launching the option to order several meals as opposed to the existing limit of two per week. Given the cost of other options of eating out and even ordering take out from a restaurant or grocery shopping only to have items go to waste by the end of the week, in addition to the freshness advantage over prepackaged frozen foods, Fresh Dish is confident it can carve out a place for its services in the food industry. At that price point though, especially for families that might have several children, it runs a lot higher than cooking a meal from scratch at home.
There are others tackling food delivery, from monthly gourmet food delivery service Love With Food, to weight-conscious plans like Nutrisystem, to at-home grocery delivery services like Grocery Gateway. Not to mention at-home takeout delivery, which is also popular among busy families and professionals, and will likely compete with Fresh Dish on the convenience side of things. There’s also Blue Apron, which launched in September and does essentially the same thing as Fresh Dish for $9.99 per person per meal. It delivers in the northeastern U.S., and also has vegetarian meal options, something Fresh Dish has yet to introduce.
Currently, Fresh Dish delivery is available in most of California and parts of Arizona and Nevada with its sights on expanding to other metropolitan areas in the near future through partnerships. The company is also in the midst of developing its mobile apps that will allow users to place orders and receive push notifications when new menus are available. The company might have convenience and freshness on its side, aiming to give users an alternative to the traditional options available when it comes to families eating together. But at $8 per meal per person, families might balk at the cost, since most might trade convenience for a lower monthly grocery bill.