Billed as a service to “balance the nutrients and the flavors, while you balance work, sleep, and peek-a-boo,” Raised Real delivers to subscribers’ doorsteps everything they need to make organic meals from fresh whole ingredients in just one minute of prep-time.
And when the company says it sends everything – it means everything, including a machine that will steam and puree the ingredients, which come washed, peeled, cut and flash frozen in perfectly portioned pouches that parents simply need to tear open and pour into the machine.
The inspiration for the delivery service came to co-founder and president Michelle Davenport after she had her first child two years ago and was “really overwhelmed and surprised” at how difficult it was to prepare nutritious baby food on top of being a working mother.
“Like everyone else, I was just trying to do my best,” Davenport said. But she explained she was unwilling to save time by using premade baby food because she knew how important nutrition was to child development and didn’t trust the contents of packaged foods could live up to her standards.
For example, she said, on average store bought pouches of baby food have 51% concentrated sugar due to the way they are processed. She also didn’t like the idea of feeding her child something that had an expiration date that was longer than how old her child was.
“I have a PhD in nutrition and I spent years researching the link between food and the brain in kids and physical development. And, also, it is very important to them because it sets up healthy eating habits and those can last well into adulthood,” she said.
At the same time, she acknowledged, “the process of making homemade baby food is such a pain and doing it really just took so many hours out of my day. And I was a working mom and I didn’t have time to be chopping vegetables every day. So, that is where the idea for Raised Real came up. I set out on this mission to help parents feed their kids homemade, real food in a way that actually fits into their busy schedules.”
Flash freezing for fast, but nutritious, food
To ensure Raise Real’s meals meet Davenport’s high standards, she says she uses flash freezing, which causes minimal cell damage to the plant-based ingredients and “locks in all the nutrients and freshness until you are ready to cook.”
Flash freezing also helps avoid high concentrations of sugar, so that on average Raised Real’s pouches have a 14% concentration versus the 51% of other products, she said.
In addition, Davenport says, Raise Real’s meals are made with the highest quality superfood ingredients and provide balanced nutrients. An example meal includes sweet potato, mango, chia seeds, coconut milk and lucuma powder – all of which combined pack a powerful punch of beta-carotene, vitamin C, A, E and K, omega-3s and fiber.
Answering an SOS via SMS
The service also is unique in that it goes beyond simply delivering food to consumers to also provide support through a proprietary texting service.
“Parents kind of crave one-on-one encouragement and support [because] parenting can be a really lonely process. And we knew we had to set something up to encourage that communication. So, we have a proprietary texting service called the baby food hotline, and it gives Raised Real parents direct access to a specialist who can help answer their questions on child nutrition, baby food or just give them some words of support,” Davenport said.
At least once a day a Raised Real member will text the company, “and those are really exciting moments,” that might include a child taking their first bite of solid food, Davenport said.
$5 million infusion will fuel national distribution
The concept behind Raised Real, as well as its early execution in five states, helped it secure in September $5 million in funding from the food delivery giant Schwan’s Company.
“We were so lucky we were able to raise $5 million. We started out raising $1 million originally to test the concept and then after that we were able to raise more money because we could show that we had some traction,” Davenport said.
She explained that new funding will go towards expanding the delivery service nationwide in a few weeks.
To help support that roll out, Davenport said the company is “talking to as many people as we can at this point to raise awareness. We haven’t done tons of marketing or press, but we have still seen a lot of growth in this first year – which has been truly organic. Nothing is more powerful than hearing about it from a new mom or dad you know.”
In addition to the national launch, Davenport says the young company is exploring a “really exciting partnership that will be announced in the coming months.”
Ultimately, she said, 2018 will be about “doing what we have been doing but on a much bigger scale and maintain the excitement we have about changing the industry.”
She added, “For people who are interested in our mission and believe in this movement of feeding kids real food, I welcome you to join us and spread the word because I think it is so important to set kids off on the right food and really set that foundation early on.”