Chicago-based make-it-yourself meal subscription service Home Chef has raised another $250,000 round, bringing their funding total to $750,000. The online startup lets subscribers select several make-it-yourself meals per week, and then sends ingredients and instructions for home preparation.
This new $250,000 convertible debt round adds Belly co-founder Craig Ulliott, North Pond restaurant owner Rich Mott, and several other undisclosed investors. Original seed funding came from Guild Capital this summer.
“Now we have a nice group of individuals and advisors to help us in this next stage of growth,” said Pat Vihtelic, Home Chef founder & CEO.
While bootstrapped, Vihtelic said the company was growing 25 to 30 percent per month. The company said its weekly revenue has increased five-fold since June.
“We are seeing the most traction from existing customers,” said Vihtelic. “That is, the core of our growth is making sure existing customers are happy.”
Currently, Home Chef is available to 60 percent of the US, from Kansas to the East Coast. “In 2015 we will be expanding our geographic reach to 90 percent of the country, but we don’t have any concrete plans,” said Vihtelic. “I think that will be dependent on another round of financing for us. Right now we are having no trouble growing. As long as we can continue to grow in the same geography there’s no reason to spread ourselves thin.”
Rapid growth has forced Home Chef into a much larger food production facility recently. Previously working out of a shared kitchen, the company moved its entire office and kitchen staff to new headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood in October.
“It’s a former USDA food production facility, that has a giant state of the art cooler, that allows us to do our production inside a cooled environment,” said Vihtelic. “Now we have all our office people and production people in one spot.”
To manage the meal production process efficiently, Vihtelic said Home Chef relies heavily on its custom built software.
“Since the beginning we’ve managed all operations on our application,” said Vihtelic.
The meal ordering website, he explained, is not just a consumer interface, it also has a robust backend that allows the company to fine-tune production to meet customer tastes and demands. “All our operations are very software driven. They are also very data driven. That’s allowed us to provide a very consistent experience. From an outside perspective that isn’t so obvious. We're not just a food service -- we rely heavily on technology to drive efficiencies.”
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