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.”