Hungry VCs Like the Taste of Social Food Sites

Chances are good that with Easter Sunday approaching and Memorial Day just around the corner, you’ve recently typed into your URL a food website so you can look up a special recipe or a BBQ technique.

It’s too soon to tell whether investing in the social food category is a recipe for success, but the sector is filling up with more competitors. And a growing number of VCs are taking a stab at the food investment sector.

Some funded startups in the food category include Foodspotting, Foodily, Yummly, GrubHub, Exit41 and Shopwell. They all approach the food market with their own unique twists, but they do have one thing in common: They are all trying to integrate social media features into their food-related offerings and infuse a sense of community into mealtime.

In the current issue of Venture Capital Journal, contributor Tom Stein explores the food category and finds that the food sites are taking advantage of innovative technologies to deliver more food search results and recipes to consumers.

Yummly, which recently raised $1.85 million seed round from First Round Capital and others, uses proprietary algorithms to filter recipe searches by a full cabinet of ingredients, prep time, dietary restrictions, nutritional value, calories, courses and even taste, such as sweet or savory. Yummly also calculates the nutritional value of recipes, displaying the breakdown of calories, fats, proteins and carbs. The site integrates with Facebook, but also has its own Facebook-like platform called TasteBuds, where users can share and rank recipes.

Yummly investor Howard Morgan, from First Round Capital, is a self-described foodie who enjoys discovering new restaurants. He says he has seen a number of food startups cross his plate over the years, but he wasn’t interested in sampling at first because they tend to be niche players, such as high-end gourmet food sites or ethnic food sites. One of the things he likes about Yummly is that it’s a broad site with mass appeal.

Similarly, Jay Jamison of BlueRun Ventuers, which is an investor in Foodspotting, tells VCJ that he sees food a several-billion-dollar market and growing, especially now that there are a number of websites and mobile apps providing new use cases around food.

VCJ subscribers can read the full story here.

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And if you want to talk to us more about social food or another hot sector of inteest, send an email to VCJEditor-in-Charge Alastair Goldfisher at [email protected]

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