I am admittedly about to gush. But as a food lover, aspiring gourmet chef and all around hedonist, Gojee is one of those sites that gets my creative juices flowing.
The mouth-watering photos on Gojee, an awesome new recipe app based in NYC, are delicious enough to make Mary-Kate Olsen hungry. Tell Gojee what you have in your kitchen and curated recipes pop up in seconds. Peruse over 10,000 recipes handpicked from 160 food writers who know what they’re doing. The site will even deliver personalized recipes based on what you crave and what you dislike.
While Gojee won’t disclose user numbers yet, it has members in 199 countries around the world and 25,000 members registered on its Google Chrome Web App, one of the highest rated in the Chrome Web Store. Today, Gojee is announcing its $1.2 million seed round led by San Francisco’s Kapor Capital and a new advisor, Brad Hunstable, who is the current President and Co-Founder of Ustream.
Founders Mike LaValle, Veronica Chan and Brian Borger spent quite a bit of time working with recipe websites from January to March of this year and didn’t find them to be an enjoyable, fun experience. “When we were cooking we were having fun, so why couldnt it be fun and pleasurable to find what to cook? That frustration was probably the biggest factor that led us to Gojee,” says CEO Mike LaValle.
I first wrote about Gojee’s chic design in Function is nothing without beauty: 10 sites doing it right. NYC Creative Director Matthew Moore pointed out: “Recent trends in website design include use of larger graphics, photos and high res images. Take Gojee for example. Without the images, the site would be a quarter of what it is. What’s so striking is their size.”
Striking indeed, and it seems to be catching everyone’s eyes. While LaValle won’t share specific numbers and click-through rates, he does say that almost everyone who signs up for Gojee has been opting to receive their emails and that their unsubscribe rate is less than 1%. We caught up with Gojee’s co-founder and CEO Mike LaValle for an interview about its recent funding and future direction. Read on after the individually wrapped Huevos Rancheros.
CBM: What will Hunstable’s Ustream experience bring to the table?
Mike LaValle: He brings an absolutely amazing wealth of experience building a useful product from nothing into one the most popular live streaming services in the world. The experience we’ve built has demonstrated a global appeal, and we’re really looking for him to provide some big picture vision combined with boots on the ground execution experience.
CBM: Likewise, what is Kapor bringing to the table?
MLV: One of our team weaknesses is and was that none of us have successfully built and launched a company before. This is one of the primary reasons we’ve brought Mitch and Brad on board. Having a VC’s and advisors with deep experience scaling and building companies was an important focus for us, and we’re very excited to have the two of them lend us their expertise and knowledge.
Further, Mitch is a very community focused investor. He believes in supporting companies that have a goal of improving the lives of the people they serve, and one of the things we’ve accomplished and hope to continue to do is get people excited about cooking again.
CBM: How does one become a food contributor?
MLV: We scour the internet, find the best writers we can (based on a few variables – what is the experience like on their blogs, where are they from, what life context do they inject into their writing, how good are the recipes, how good are their photos). All this is done by hand. And then we talk to them individually and invite them on to the site and ask permission to use their content. A key part of all of this is that we don’t show the full recipe and we send our users straight to their blogs. That’s something we really wanted to maintain. While the experience on Gojee is special and fun, we really like creating this second layer of delight and inspiration, and that’s the bloggers sites themselves. They’re also very happy we send traffic to their sites and aren’t scraping their content.
CBM: Where are you taking Gojee in the future, can you drop a couple hints on future product iterations?
MLV: I think in the short term you might see us explore some other verticals that might be very good complements to the current site. I don’t want to give away much more than that, but I can guarantee people will like it.
CBM: How are you making money again?
MLV: There are quite a few opportunities for cross-collaboration between our users, the grocery stores we partner with, brands looking for a targeted way to reach people. One of the reasons we’ve funded ourselves was to make sure we have the ability to approach this process deliberately and carefully. We really want to make sure we’ve nailed the right user experience on the platform before we rush into monetization.
CBM: Pick your favorite veggie, meat and dessert dish on Gojee.