“We chose Indiegogo as a format to raise funds because it allows us to test our operations by giving our chef ambassadors and backers and chance to test the recipes and give honest feedback” on the ordering process, food and receiving experience, said co-founder and president Jesse Langley.
He explained backers will receive their meals in February before the firm officially launches in the late spring 2015. By beta-testing the model “we will be able to corner feedback to provide an effective experience,” Langley said.
Indiegogo also helps Chef’d and other fundraisers reach investors by helping them create a campaign page, providing key analytics to empower fundraisers’ decisions and amplifying their campaigns’ exposure, according to the crowd-sourcing website.
The website also helps with initial cash-flow, a substantial stumbling block for many new companies, by offering multiple funding models and access to easy online payment systems, like PayPal, for a percentage of the funds raised. It charges 9% of the funds raised, but will give companies 5% back if they reach their goals, according to Indiegogo’s website.
“Working with Indiegogo has been helpful and not a huge challenge,” Langley said. He added Chef’d’s campaign to raise $50,000 launched Dec. 10 and will run through Jan. 9.
Chef’d offers several packages to backers, ranging from two dinners for two people in one week for $60 to multiple-week packages for two or four people for as much as $389. Backers also can buy $600 worth of food for $400, pay $5,000 to have their recipe featured on and served by the website and $10,000 to star in their own cooking show.
A delivery service set apart from competitors
Once the business officially launches, meal kits with "perfectly" portioned ingredients and step-by-step recipes created by branded and celebrity chefs for home cooks will be delivered to buyers’ doorsteps for $9 to $18 per meal on average, depending on the meal consumers select, Langley explained.
By partnering with celebrity chefs and branded food outlets, Chef’d benefits from brand affiliation from companies and chefs that consumers already know and trust, Langley said.
While he declined to reveal the company’s chef partners yet, he explained that Chef’d “selected a group of partners who represent home cooks, have a reputation with a certain type of cuisine or lifestyle and are known for a higher elevation of food.”
Consumers can select what meals they want to be delivered within one to two days of from ordering from a list of 100 recipes, which is different from other meal kit delivery services, such as Blue Apron, which limits meal choices to six per week, Langley said. He also noted that unlike Blue Apron, Chef’d lets consumers buy the same meal kit multiple times. (Read more about Blue Apron HERE.)
“We are all creatures of habit and it is nice to come back to meals from the past and make them part of your meal experience again,” Langely said, noting his favorite meal on the site is lamb with salsa verde and black rice.
Even though the meal sounds complicated to make, Langely assures it is not because the recipes are straight forward and empower consumers “to create a great meal without messing it up.” The recipes are rated by skill level and also provide useful tips on how to cook without dirtying extra dishes, such as indicating when a bowl can be used again without washing it. They also provide advice on how to multi-task so all components of the meal finish at the same time in less than an hour.
These are important aspects of Chef’d, which really wants to “empower consumers, reduce the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping so people can provide a great meal for friends and family,” Langley said.
Chef’d partners with family-owned suppliers
To provide a great meal, Chef’d supplies only high quality ingredients, Langley said.
“We have a diverse team of quality suppliers round the nation,” including a family-owned business that provides its meats, and farm owners who provide the other fresh ingredients.
As the business continues to evolve, Chef’d “will continue to provide various vendors for each of the recipes as the main suppliers,” Langely added.
Seizing the moment
Langely is confident the company’s timing is right to marry the ease of technology with consumers’ current interest in food culture and celebrity cooking.
“As a culture, we are getting back to our roots or the stage when we share food as part of a larger experience in which you participate rather than simply heating up a frozen meal,” Langley said, adding Chef’d is tapping into consumers’ desire to “create an experience that connects people in the kitchen and at the dinner table.”