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Home Chef raises $10M for meal kits and “taste algorithms”

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Home Chef, one of several startups delivering recipes and ingredients to take some of the hassle out of home cooking, is announcing that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Founder and CEO Pat Vihtelic told me that Home Chef stands out from similar-sounding companies in a couple of ways. The big one is flexibility — customers get to choose their meals from 10 13 overall choices on a given week, and the service even uses a “taste algorithm” to recommend meals that they’ll probably like based on their preferences.

“We listen to our customers —that tends to dictate what ends up on our menu, versus trying to be exotic or something like that, ” Vihtelic added.

Since launching in 2013, Home Chef has grown to more than 400 employees and serves more than 540,000 meals each month. The new round, which will allow Home Chef to open a West Coast distribution center, was led by Shining Capital and Guild Capital.

The Chicago-headquartered startup has now raised a total of $12 million — a significant amount of capital, but it pales in comparison to the $135 million round that Blue Apron raised last year.

Vihtelic told me that as Home Chef has grown, he’s remained focused on capital efficiency. In addition, he doesn’t see companies like Blue Apron as his direct competitors.

“We’re all competing with status quo of going to the grocery store,” he said. “I still feel like we have a long ways to go before we actually start running into each other. The market’s huge, the demand is there, everyone eats and customers are now embracing a new and better way to do that.”