Sun Basket, a delivery service that provides recipes and pre-portioned ingredients for home-cooked meals, has closed a $4.5 million seed round led by PivotNorth Capital and Baseline Ventures. The round also includes investment from Vulcan Capital, Tyler Florence Group, Rembrandt Venture Partners, Roth Capital, Correlation Ventures, and Relevance Capital.

Founded by Adam Zbar and Justine Kelly, the former head chef of the James Beard Award-winning restaurant Slanted Door, Sun Basket began with the mission to bring Northern California's healthy food sensibilities to the rest of the country via easy-to-prepare recipes and sustainably sourced, organic ingredients. The company, which has been in beta since March of this year, offers a variety of meals to suit gluten-free, Paleo, and vegetarian lifestyles.

The company is entering an already crowded marketplace with well-funded adversaries. Plated has raised a total of $56.4 million, and Blue Apron closed a $135 million series D round of funding at a valuation of $2 billion in June. While both companies offer vegetarian options and Plated has expanded its offerings to include gluten-free, catering to various diets has not been their core focus.

Zbar believes Sun Basket's emphasis on clean eating will be its recipe for success. Since launching, the company has grown 20 percent week-over-week. He attributes the company's progress in the market to increasing demand among consumers with unique dietary restrictions, but who are also looking for convenient meal options. "Things like gluten-free and Paleo have had extremely strong drive for us," he said. "They have had about five times the conversion in our different marketing funnels."

In addition to its healthy approach, the company believes keeping the recipes simple has been key to adoption. Sun Basket meals are typically around five to eight ingredients, require one pan, and take less than 30 minutes to prepare. "Where some of the competitors are really hanging their hat on teaching you to cook and learning to be a gourmet cook, we really want this to be something that is easy and enjoyable," said Zbar. "The beauty of doing farm-to-table is less ingredients is more, and it really focuses on the flavor profile of each one of those ingredients."

Currently, Sun Basket is available in California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada. With this round of funding, it plans to move into additional U.S. markets in 2016. To support that expansion, the company is also in the process of finding a larger facility in the Bay Area.

As part of today's announcement, the company is also adding Don Barnett as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Barnett brings 25 years of food-industry experience to the role and was previously the co-founder and CFO of NewStar Fresh Foods and Organicgirl, one of the largest providers of packaged produce in the country. In his role, he will be responsible for building out the supply chain and internal processes to help the company scale. "I loved the opportunity in this space to improve the value chain in which food is delivered to Americans," said Barnett.

 

Published on: Sep 17, 2015