Food delivery startups have proven to be a hard business – focus is often on growth more than profits, with high burn rates, low returns and they can be logistics nightmares. But nevermind all that, a new, more niche prepared meal delivery service seems to be popping up — for babies.
Yumi (formerly Caer) announced its relaunch just last week; Gather, Ayesha Curry’s meal kit company, also added a baby food delivery service; and Thistle, a healthy meal delivery startup in the Bay Area, now makes baby food, too. And then there’s Little Spoon, a new baby food delivery startup funded by Tinder’s Sean Rad and Kyle O’Brien from Chobani.
Co-founder Michelle Muller came up with Little Spoon after realizing, aside from doing it all herself, there weren’t any fresh, healthy options for her little one around New York City.
“There are better options out there for your dog than there are for your baby,” she told TechCrunch.
Sure there are already organic options at the supermarket. Beechnut was a “natural organic” brand many of my friends with babies brought up when I asked about some healthier fare. Little Spoon will also have to contend with Plum Organics and the age-old Gerber brand.
And it’s not clear how much of a need there is for this type of service in the market. Babies don’t need much and it seems pretty easy to mash some bananas or make pureed carrots in the food processor at home.
But, should you be too busy and want a fresher option than something that’s been sitting in the grocery aisle for possibly months at room temperature conditions, Little Spoon offers an alternative — at least in New York for now.
However, several other baby meal startups haven’t fared well in the past and Little Spoon could become another casualty if it makes the same mistakes. Curry’s Gather, which launched under a year ago, just redirects to Curry’s Instagram feed now. Yumi tried to launch last year as Caer but has since renamed itself and says it won’t open the doors till “mid-2017.” Shoogies, a New York City-based prepared meal delivery service seems to have shut down. Whether that’s because there wasn’t really a market or some other reason is unknown as the founders were unreachable for comment.
But, Little Spoon points out that, unlike some of these other startups, it owns the facility where it produces the baby food and can control the process. It also uses a technique called high-pressure processing (HPP), which is basically what happens with cold-pressed juices and is used to lock in the nutrients and neutralize bad bacteria instead of using additives, preservatives or simply flash-freezing like some other brands.
And Little Spoon could easily expand beyond the Big Apple, its co-founders contend. That’s because its food processing facility is actually in California and I’m told the products can ship anywhere in a day.
But you don’t order for your baby on the daily. Instead, Little Spoon will ship you up to two weeks worth of 4 oz. sized meals for your little one at $2.99 each meal for three meals a day, if you buy in bulk, or up to $4.99 individually (a 4 oz. jar of Beechnut Classics bananas for comparison, was $4.86 at Walmart). Little Spoon flavors and meals also change frequently to keep it interesting and age appropriate.
The team behind Little Spoon consists of Muller as the “chief mom,” CEO Ben Lewis, chief product officer Angela Vranich and CMO Lisa Barnett, who left her position as a partner with Sherpa Foundry to help co-found the company.
So far the startup has taken a cool couple million from angel investors, including the aforementioned Rad and O’Brien, and plans to raise more as needed.