Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after closing a $7m Series A funding round* led by Sonoma Brands (the incubator created by KRAVE Jerky founder Jon Sebastiani) bringing its total funding to $8.5m to date, Yumble co-founder and CEO David Parker said investors “wanting to write big checks” had approached Yumble directly after hearing about its success.
While some of the luster has worn off the subscription-based meal kit market, Yumble's proposition is inherently more compelling to investors, he claimed.
Meal kits have struggled to retain subscribers, because fun though it is to create inspiring new dishes from scratch, they are expensive and time-consuming (you’re still spending 30-40 minutes cooking and then there’s the washing up) and many consumers are not willing to commit long term, claimed Parker, who co-founded Yumble in New York with his wife Joanna and former HelloFresh USA COO Daniel Treiman in 2016, and launched in June 2017.
'Dan is an operational wizard'
By contrast, he said, Yumble meals do not require any preparation, and offer simple, quick solutions for busy parents.
“Maybe you don’t know how to cook healthy foods, or you don’t have time to get up another 30 minutes earlier to make your kids’ lunches, or you’re not back home from work in time to spend 45 minutes preparing dinner, or you’re not home at all. Maybe your kids are really picky eaters? These are recurring problems.
“One thing that was apparent to investors is that what we’re doing is very different [to meal kits]. We’re solving a pain point and our retention figures are much more attractive. They were also really impressed by [how low] our customer acquisition costs [were] and they were struck by the magnitude of the opportunity, our all-star team [in addition to Dan Treiman from HelloFresh, Yumble has also recruited the former head of digital marketing, customer relationship management and retention at prepared meals delivery brand Freshly and the former head of R&D at meal kit brand GreenChef]."
He added: "They were also impressed with how capital efficient our business model is - Dan [from HelloFresh] is an operational wizard - and our potential to expand the offering with other product lines and really build a brand.
"We are also offering fun activities in every box, tips for parents, and making it fun.”
“After looking extensively in the category, we were immediately struck by the traction Yumble had made in less than one year of operating. Their offering is clearly resonating with consumers in a big way and we’re thrilled to support the Yumble team and bring to bear our experience partnering with leading digital and food & beverage brands.”
Brian Nicholson, Principal, Sonoma Brands
‘They were astonished at what we had been able to achieve with such a small team’
Right now, Yumble is reaching 26 states east of the Mississipi from its New York kitchen via Fedex and some other couriers, but the plan is to go nationwide, which will require additional kitchen hubs on the west coast in early 2019, he said.
“I think our investors can see that prepared kids’ food is a monster opportunity. They were astonished at what we had been able to achieve with such a small team, and we are growing incredibly fast."
A weekly subscription service delivering pre-prepared ready-to-heat lunches, dinners, and snacks aimed at children aged one to 10 years, with gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and vegetarian options, Yumble is most popular with dual income dual working families, said Parker.
But it's not just attracting affluent urbanites, he said: “We were surprised to see a variety of different income levels and people outside major cities using the service.”
Joanna Parker added: “Our retention figures are way higher than they are for meal kits. Also, as a parent, if you find something your kids like, you’re not going to just switch to another service you don’t know if your kids will like just because they’re running a promotion [something meal kit brands have struggled to deal with]."
While meal plans rotate, fan favorites stay on the menu as "some kids find something they like and they want to eat it every week," she said, which also reduces operational complexity.
Our retention figures are way higher than they are for meal kits
The meals – which are delivered chilled in modified atmosphere packed sealed trays by Fedex on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays in insulated boxes with frozen gel packs - include macaroni and cheese with veggie tots; orzo salad with organic carrot sticks; and a pizza empanada with cheddar cheese mashed potatoes and broccoli, and can be heated in seconds in the microwave, said Parker.
“We try to offer healthier versions of foods kids already know and love, and to make it fun, so we have chicken pops with baked carrot fries, or a bean burrito with a sweet potato mash. Our customer base is [children aged] between one and ten, but most families [that Yumble serves] have children between the age of six and nine.”
Each week, there are different meal options or build your own meal options, with prices of $7.99/meal for six meals a week, $7.49/meal for 12 meals a week, and $6.99/meal for 24 meals a week (with a special offer of 25% off for the first two weeks).
*Other participants in the round included Danone Manifesto Ventures, Professor Martin Lautman, RiverPark Ventures, Launch Capital, and Apple Core.