Fresh Dish, a new food delivery startup incubated by Science and backed by $500,000 in seed funding from Battery Ventures, is today launching its online ordering website, soon to be followed by an iOS application. Unlike restaurant-delivery services, Fresh Dish isn’t about ordering ready-to-eat meals from local eateries, but rather ready-to-cook meals that can be prepared in under 30 minutes.
The company was founded by Steve Goldstein, formerly SVP and GM for Provide Commerce, the company behind a number of e-commerce brands, including ProFlowers and Shari’s Berries, for example. Goldstein says he had been thinking about this idea for some time, but was really inspired to create the company to serve his own needs. As a father to a five-year old son, Goldstein says mealtime has always been a huge challenge. It’s something many of us can relate to – as busy professionals, we don’t always have the time to cook, so we end up relying on frozen meals or take-out to feed ourselves and our family. (Guilty).
Fresh Dish offers an alternative. The startup doesn’t ship meals, it ships ingredients that can be used to prepare healthy meals using recipes created by top chefs. Currently, the company is working with Alex Jamieson, best known as the chef who helped get indie filmmaker Morgan Spurlock back on track in the movie Super Size Me, after he spent a month of gorging on McDonald’s fare. There are a few other chefs coming on board, as well, whose recipes will hit the Fresh Dish website in three to four weeks.
As for the service itself, consumers can choose from dinner kits serving two people for $24 or those serving a family of four for $32. Shipping is free. Plans will be available offering deeper discounts for longer commitments, Goldstein says.
The ingredients are sourced from restaurant food suppliers, and Fresh Dish has developed its own packaging involving ice packs and insulated linings that will keep the fresh items cool for 50 hours. He adds that nothing is frozen; all the produce is fresh and everything is sent pre-prepared and measured. That means if a recipe calls for veggies, they’re shipped to you already washed and chopped, for example. The idea is that you’ll be able to open your dinner kit and prepare a meal in half an hour.
While it’s true that you could go to your local supermarket and buy the same items for less, Fresh Dish, as noted above, is appealing to those whose lifestyles leave little time for meal planning, the accompanying shopping trips such preparations entail, and the food preparation involved once you return home. New parents with infants or small children are another target demographic for the service. (I’d add that pretty much everyone sick of ordering pizza and Chinese are potential customers).
This is the same market that Bay Area-based Munchery is going after, with its similarly focused “fresh meals” delivery service. The difference is that Munchery pays chefs to prepare its healthy fare, while Fresh Dish just ships ingredients.
Unlike Munchery, Fresh Dish doesn’t employ its own staff to prep meals, but instead contracts with third-party partners who also have extra capacity in their refrigerators to handle assembling the boxes. Goldstein declined to talk about Fresh Dish’s profit margins, but noted its supply chain is very efficient – Fresh Dish doesn’t have the overhead that restaurants deal with, he explains.
Currently a small team of six working out of Science’s L.A. offices, Fresh Dish is launching today to serve L.A., San Diego,
San Francisco, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, with further expansion planned across the U.S. in the weeks and months ahead. (Update: the company incorrectly told us SF and Phoenix would be supported at launch. They are not ready yet). Also coming soon: a mobile app for iOS, which will send push notifications of new menus, support mobile orders and even include a sharing option so people can post what they’re making to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
The company is now in the process of raising its Series A round to continue its expansion goals.