SimplyCook, a recipe kit with flavour ingredients instead of fresh food, raises further £2M

SimplyCook, the recipe kit with a flavoursome difference, has raised £2 million in further funding. Investors in the round are Maxfield Capital, Episode 1 Ventures, 500 Startups, and a handful of unnamed U.K. angels.

Unlike other recipe or meal kits, such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Gousto and Marley Spoon, U.K.-based SimplyCook doesn’t send you all of the fresh ingredients required to turn its recipes into food on your table. Instead, the subscription service consists of recipe cards and what SimplyCook calls “ingredients kits,” which are herbs, spices, sauces and other extras needed to cook each meal.

The premise is that SimplyCook isn’t trying to replace your weekly fresh grocery shop — something that the startup’s founder and CEO Oli Ashness thinks is a huge ask — and instead is attempting to solve recipe discovery, in which too much choice can be paralysing, and how difficult it can be to purchase the hardest to source ingredients for a lot of recipes, such as various spices, herbs and sauces, especially in the small quantity required.

The way it works is as follows: You sign up to SimplyCook online or via the app to receive fortnightly or monthly boxes containing flavour ingredients (sauces, spices, pastes, rubs etc.) and recipes through your letterbox, to make cooking new meals easy. Aside from the kit itself, the other main differentiation is affordability, which is a known issue holding back adoption of these types of services. SimplyCook costs £8.99 to cook 4 new meals, sans all of the fresh ingredients needed, obviously.

In a call, Ashness, who was previously a VC at Draper Esprit, said SimplyCook’s different model is also reflected in the modest amount of funding the startup has raised to date compared to competitors. The company’s main fixed cost is a picking and packing centre adjacent to its main supplier.

Ashness says the additional funding will be used for increased marketing spend, and to further invest in the company’s recommendation technology and mobile app. He also tells me he expects to overtake HelloFresh’s customer numbers in the U.K. at some point this year.