Gojee, an aesthetically pleasing recipe-sharing site, has raised a first venture round of $2.8 million from InterWest Partners. The New York startup has pivoted its way into a growing site with more than 500,000 registered users — and it’s also been getting attention for its simple and beautiful design. It was nominated for the Crunchies’ Best Design Award this past year.
Keval Desai, a partner at Interwest, recently wrote a guest post for AllThingsD on the future of the Internet, citing Gojee’s relationship with food enthusiasts as an example of how the medium is becoming more like television.
“Interwest has some very deep insight on where we are taking the platform, and Keval Desai had strong, insightful thoughts on the future of the web which resonated well with our team,” cofounder and chief executive Michael Lavalle tells us in an email today.
He adds that this round of funding was exclusively Interwest — but it’s not the first million-plus round that the company has brought in. In September of last year, Gojee raised $1.2M in seed funding led by Kapor Capital.
Lavalle and Tian He left jobs as investment bankers at Morgan Stanley and founded a “charts and graphs” site that focused on the nutrition of users’ shopping habits.
“We pretty much showed people that they weren’t shopping that healthily,” Lavalle told Fast Company recently. ”People don’t like to see that put in front of their face in big graphs.”
They pivoted in December 2010 to create “Twitter for food,” pushing recipes and sales alerts to users. According to Lavalle, they built too many features into the site and it “didn’t look good, didn’t feel good.” So they pivoted a second time, deciding in March 2011 to build a platform solely based on one feature of “Twitter for food.” The offspring of this third attempt is Gojee.
What’s the money going towards now? “We’re adding some key engineers and design people to the team with a major focus on mobile,” Lavalle says. “The challenge of keeping the site clean, beautiful and the standard in design is our greatest challenge and the most fun part of the job for us. It’s something we obsess about.”
Gojee uncovers luxury experiences by hand-curating the world’s best lingerie, food, dresses, heels, bags, jewelry, and drinks. Explore. Discover. Indulge.
InterWest invests an average of about $7 - 15 million over the span of their involvement with each company in their portfolio. They invest in companies through the full range of venture investment stages, and investments may be staged over several rounds of financing. Although they generally begin their involvement in the early stages of a company’s development, they pursue attractive opportunities based on their individual merits rather than their investment stage.
Keval Desai is a partner at VC firm InterWest Partners. Previously, Desai was the VP of Product at Digg. He joined Digg in January of 2010. Keval previously worked as a Director of Product Management at Google, where he led development of product/businesses in Google’s advertising business (including AdWords, Syndication & TV Ads) since joining the company in June, 2003. Prior to joining Google, Keval was a Principal at ONSET -Ventures, where he worked from Jan. 2001...