Billed as an “on-demand craft food marketplace,” WoodSpoon has raised $2 million in seed funding to expand its operations.
The company, which we profiled back in July, essentially connects customers to home chefs. It started because the two Israel-born co-founders were craving some good home cooking and saw an opportunity to carve out a niche in the growing delivery world as they started working on the app about two years ago.
“We just missed our home food, the Middle Eastern dishes,” said co-founder and CMO Merav Rozengarten. “We thought to ourselves, ‘How come there is nothing around us that helps us find our Israeli neighbors that know how to cook?'”
Users order from the chef’s mini virtual restaurant where the chefs set their prices. Users pay a flat 15 percent service fee and additional delivery fee depending on distance. WoodSpoon then kicks the order out to delivery partners for the last mile.
Rozengarten said there continues to be a surge of home cooks and laid-off restaurant workers looking to make ends meet during the pandemic from the safety of their home. Now, more than 10,000 users have jumped on the WoodSpoon platform.
Her recent favorite: elegant pasta from a professional chef.
“I have one favorite cook that lives nearby, named Kevin. He cooks Italian he makes homemade pasta; my favorite is angel hair with truffles. He used to cook with Nobu and very high-end restaurants, so, I feel very lucky to be able to have that in my home,” said Rozengarten. “You can have Kevin, but if you miss your mom or grandma’s food, you also have that type of home chef that cooks for the family and has a lot of food.”
Since June, the company has expanded across New York. Rozengarten said it would continue to expand to more boroughs of New York City with the new funding. The operations currently cover Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of Long Island. The company also launched nationwide delivery by mail for mostly baked goods and other items that can stand up to traveling for a few days, which is helping chart the course to the next markets.
“That gives us a little feeling of which markets would be the best, to test the waters and see which is ideal to expand to as the next market,” said Rozengarten.
The funding is also helping staff up the engineering team and bring on more talent in operations and marketing.
Early in the launch, WoodSpoon developed a very strict protocol around kitchen safety and cleanliness for home chefs. But Rozengarten said customers preferred order from someone’s home than a busy commercial kitchen.
“During the pandemic, we thought through a lot of the safety issues. And we found out that people actually felt safer offering form someone’s home than commercial kitchens. That was a big aha moment for us in terms of marketing and how we want to frame it. We found people prefer to buy from someone who doesn’t need to leave their house or be in the kitchen with other people,” said Rozengarten.
The company had been pitching investors since it launched in March. The seed round was led by World Trade Ventures and Silvertech Ventures was also in the mix.