While it’s true that we all have to eat, and there are plenty of cooking sites out there, Food52 is smart about it. It’s a content and commerce destination where you can find everything you need in your cooking life, from the fish recipe you need for tonight’s dinner, to the how to’s for broiling it seamlessly, to the dish to serve it on.
Founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are both former New York Times food editors. They certainly know their way around in the kitchen, and the site has come a long way since they first launched it in 2009. The pair talk about what they’ve done to stir the pot, that brought the investors so quickly to the table.
Who were your investors?
The investors in our Series A-1 round included 14W, who led the round, and new investors including Scripps Networks Interactive (parent company of Food Network), Walden Venture Capital and Robin Klein, as well as existing investors Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Vocap Investment Partners, Joanne Wilson, Thomas Lehrman, VaynerRSE, and others.
What was the funding process like?
Painless as these things go: short and sweet.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
There’s healthy skepticism toward commerce businesses these days, so we saw some of that, and also we have a unique model which fully integrates media and commerce — it’s not easy for everyone to grasp how it works.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Investors were enthusiastic about the potential to build a global brand that encompasses all of the elements of the home, from kitchens and cooking to entertaining and design.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Since founding Food52 we’ve embraced transparency, and we feel strongly that team members benefit from knowing how the business is doing. Everyone should understand how we make, as well as lose money. Transparency, in turn, creates trust and respect across the company and is a crucial part of our culture.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the near term, we plan to focus our efforts on a new mobile experience for Food52 users, increased video and home-related content, and more events and popups.
What’s the most unusual recipe you’ve ever received at Food52?
Irish Car Bomb Float — it’s a, uhh … lovely boozy ice cream float made with whiskey and Guinness, but we’d never heard of it, and it blew up (pun intended) on StumbleUpon one night, sending us a tsunami of traffic. Late night drinkers, not our usual crowd. They forgot about us by morning.
What’s your favorite ethnic restaurant in NYC?
Spicy and Tasty in Queens.