Danish plant-based meal delivery service Simple Feast has raised another €30m to launch its business in the US, hoping to find new customers among health-conscious Californians.
Backed by investors such as American venture capital firm W14, London-based Balderton and Danish Byfounders, the founders of the loss-making company Jakob Jønck and Thomas Ambus are making an ambitious bet.
Simple Feast has a similar business model to other startups in this market such as Hello Fresh, delivering fresh food to customers on subscription.
Apart from not serving meat, the main difference between Simple Feast and its competitors is that Simple Feast neither delivers pre-cooked nor raw food, but something in between – par-cooked food that requires 10–15 minutes preparation before serving.
“In the beginning, we had a little bit of meat so we did not frighten people,” says Jønck “We weren’t too radical… [But] one day a little over two years ago I said just fuck it, let’s do what we know and what we love,” Jønck said.
Since then, the Simple Feast customers have been able to choose from vegan or vegetarian meals and the company has seen strong growth.
From fitness app to food tech
Jønck has some experience of the Californian market from his pre-Simple Feast days.
“I was building fitness communities in Cali in health communities, so I have been in this industry for quite a while,” Jønck told Sifted.
Simple Feast is not Jønck’s first startup. The one he is most famous for is the Danish fitness app Endomondo, which was sold to the American sportswear maker Under Armour for $87.5m in early 2015.
The reason for returning to Denmark to start Simple Feast back in 2015 was both because of where he wanted to raise his children as well as what the local food scene in Denmark could offer.
“One of the reasons why we came back to Copenhagen is that there are so many amazing chefs. People who came here to work are now opening up their own places.”
In need of capital
In 2018 Simple Feast launched in the biggest cities in Sweden, but the food is still prepared in the Danish kitchens.
The launch in Sweden meant a higher cost for the company, which reported a loss of 40m DKK, approximately €5.4m, in 2018.
The loss and the fact that the company had minus 27,6m DKK, approximately €3m, of equity by year-end, made it clear that the company was in urgent need of more capital, which they now have. The startup has in total raised approximately €40m in venture capital.
Simple Feast has invested in radical marketing campaigns and in social media advertisements, which perhaps explains part of their success. According to an interview with the Swedish office, Simple Feast made 10,000 deliveries in Sweden in August alone.
“If we can do ridiculously great meals, then people will stick around,” Jønck said during an interview this spring.
Sifted has tried the Simple Feast’s meal boxes that the company delivers once a week, and you can really taste the effort that has been put into making them.
“If we can do ridiculously great meals, then people will stick around.”
However, it’s not cheap. For a weekly delivery of meals for 2-3 people for three evenings, customers pays around €70.
But hopefully for Simple Feast, customers in California will be less price-sensitive than in the Nordics. If Simple Feast can get the Californians on board then Denmark may have another startup success story to show the world.