Crowdsourced cooking and commerce site Food52 has extended its runaway a bit, picking up $6 million in additional funding in a round that’s being characterized as the company’s “Series A-1.” The round is led by Alex Zubillaga of investment firm 14W, who is now joining Food52’s board. Other investors include the Scripps Network Interactive (the parent company of The Food Network), Walden Venture Capital, BDMI, Vocap Investment Partners, Thomas Lehrman, Robin Klein, Joanne Wilson, Gary Vaynerchuk and others.
To date, the company has raised $9 million.
The site, co-founded in 2009 by former New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, began as a platform for cooks, encouraging them to share their recipes with others for a chance at winning weekly prizes – generally some sort of cooking-related product, of course. Through this model, Food52 grew its network to nearly 30,000 recipes, 98% of which have been contributed by community members.
In 2012, the company expanded its crowdsourced contributions to include articles, and says now 70% of its content comes from outside contributors. That year it also won the James Beard Award for Best Culinary Website.
And last summer, Food52 grew again, launching its first online shop called Provisions, where cooks could buy products that relate to the recipes and how-to’s elsewhere on the site.
This section now accounts for two-thirds of the company’s total revenue, with the remaining revenue driven by ad sales. (The company doesn’t disclose revenue figures.)
Today, Food52 tells us it’s seeing around 3.8 million unique visitors per month, and over 350,000 registered users. Email subscribers are up 155% over the last 12 months, and social media growth is up 350%.
With the new funding, Food52 is gaining the insight of its new board member Alex Zubillaga, whose investments include board seats at Tango, Lyst, CrowdSurge, and Wahanda and exits including Mendeley (to Reed Elsevier); Social Guide (to Nielsen); and, Viki (to Rakuten).
Alex has expertise with consumer and e-commerce brands, having worked with companies like Everlane and Lyst, the company explains to TechCrunch, and founders Amanda and Merrill felt from their first meeting with him that he understood their vision for the Food52 brand at large and how all the different components worked together.
The company says it will use the additional capital to add to its now 28-person team, expand its product line-up on Provisions, produce more videos, extend into more “home-related” content and grow beyond its New York home base.
Food52 also currently has a mobile app for the Hotline portion of its site, which allows you to asking cooking questions and get answers back in real-time, but it will now invest in developing mobile experiences that will let you interact with both the content and commerce sides of its business.