As one celebrity-helmed startup closes up shop, another one opens its doors.
Last week, actress Blake Lively announced that her lifestyle and e-commerce brand Preserve was shutting down (for now) after admitting the site launched "too early."
On Tuesday, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar joins the ranks of celebrity entrepreneurs with the official launch of Foodstirs, an e-commerce startup that makes baking kits for the Instagram and Pinterest generation.
"Pinterest really created this massive desire to take everything to the next level," Gellar says, referring to the way that site features elaborately-made and beautifully-shot food projects. "But there's this disconnect between inspiration and execution."
As such, Foodstirs is aiming to fill that gap by selling baking mixes that can be turned into impressive-looking creations but are simple enough to make with kids. Another selling point is what you don't get in the mixes: no artificial preservatives or colors, genetically modified ingredients, or bleached flours.
The kits, which include projects such as brownie popsicles and ghost-shaped sugar cookies, sell online separately for $24.95 each or as a subscription for $19.95 a month. The boxes include dry ingredients and extra components such as cupcake liners and cookie cutters. A portion of the proceeds will go to charitable organizations.
Co-founder and CEO Galit Laibow came up with the idea in 2013 while she was still working in PR and wanted to find a way to spend time with her kids, ages 4 and 7, in the kitchen. "No brand spoke to me as a modern parent. Everything was junky and not something I'd want to feed my kids," Laibow says. So she started to put together her own foodcrafting kits and showing them to other parents at her kids' school. One of those parents happened to be Gellar.
Gellar says the idea resonated with her and she was "looking for something more interesting to do," so she came on board as a co-founder. The first-time entrepreneur admits the last six months has been an intense startup crash course, especially the process of pitching investors, which she says "forces you to grow thicker skin."
"Just imagine pitching a baking company to room full of male investors. And then you bring in Buffy the vampire slayer!" she says.
Now Foodstir's seven-person team, which also includes former Martha Stewart Living editor Gia Russo, works alongside tech startups at Mucker Capital's Santa Monica-based startup accelerator MuckerLab. Mucker, Third Wave Digital, and BAM Ventures all contributed to the company's seed round, the total value of which remains undisclosed.
Mucker co-founder and managing partner William Hsu acknowledges that Foodstirs may seem like an odd fit for an accelerator that typically invests between $21,000 and $150,000 into startups working on apps and software.
"My initial reaction was that I wasn't sure it was actually a technology business, but the most important thing for a fast-growing company is a product people really love, and pent-up demand for the product and the problem it's trying to solve," Hsu says. "They obviously understand the product category extremely well." And ultimately he realized that no other brand had tried to step in and become the new Betty Crocker.
Foodstirs eventually plans to sell in offline stores and further develop a line of baking tools. But Gellar has more ambitious plans.
"I want our own Foodstir stores!" she declares.