Drop Kitchen, a smart kitchen software startup based in Ireland and San Francisco, just received an $8 million Series A funding round led by Alsop Louie Partners. The round, which also included investments from Frontline, WI Harper and Irish celebrity chef Ross Lewis, brings the total investment in Drop to nearly $12 million.
According to Drop, the company plans to use the funds to “continue development of Drop’s KitchenOS platform for connected appliances in the smart kitchen of the future as well as to support the company’s partnerships with appliance manufacturers worldwide.”
For Drop, the funding is a validation of the company’s new strategy, which marks a departure from the company’s initial focus on creating its own hardware (the Drop scale) and instead focusing on developing a software platform (Drop KitchenOS) for partners such as Bosch and GE.
As part of the announcement, Drop also indicated that well known venture capitalist Stewart Alsop, founder of Alsop Louie, will join the board. The company also indicated that Chef Ross Lewis will help lend his expertise in developing the company’s platform and wants to utilize Drop technology in his own kitchen.
“I have always known that smart technologies were going to become incredibly important in the kitchen — so much so that I built my own digital recipe system for Chapter One’s kitchen,” Lewis told The Spoon. “When I saw Drop’s app, I knew it was the future and I wanted to integrate it into our kitchen here. I am working closely with the team to share my culinary expertise to guide all future developments, and look forward to adding recipes myself.”
I had a chance to ask Drop CEO Ben Harris a few questions about the news. You can see our interview and the full announcement below.
You indicated the capital will be for further expanding Drop’s kitchen OS and to support its appliance partners – can you be more specific on this? (hire headcount/developers, etc)?
Harris: We have been incredibly efficient with the small bit of capital we have brought in to date, by working both hard and smart. We intend to continue in that vein by investing in areas that we feel is most important to our partners and users.
There seems to be an increasing number of efforts to provide kitchen software platforms to big appliance makers. How is Drop different from other companies in terms of technology?
Harris: The kitchen is getting more and more complicated, not less. We have cooking food processors, pressure cookers, temperature probes, steaming ovens – and much more to come as more sensors are being added to the kitchen. Yet recipes (one of the most popular content medias online) know nothing about individual kitchens or their owners. They are therefore only shared with the lowest common denominator of functionality, leveraging the most basic and generic of appliances e.g “roast in an oven for X time at temperature Y”. Even non-connected kitchen appliances are capable of so much more. Drop’s responsive recipe format and technology adapts recipes to you and your kitchen – to allow those you and your appliances to shine. Through this adaptation, we ensure users get to fully benefit from the decades of research and development that manufacturers have been putting into their appliances, and through an incredibly intuitive experience. Resulting in an equivalent leap of turning a featureful WAP phone into an iPhone.
When will we see GE and Bosch products with Drop software?
Harris: Right now you can connect and control over 100 models of GEA, Bosch, Siemens and Neff ovens from the Drop Recipes App, with more to come.
Amazon announced the cooking capabilities built into the Alexa Smart Home API today – how is Drop working to build in new interfaces such as voice to enable people to cook in new ways?
Harris: Right now, all I can say is – we understand how important voice is for the kitchen.
The Drop Scale is still available for sale on Amazon – is Drop continuing to produce its own hardware?
Harris: The Drop Scale is simply a reference design as to how well hardware and software should integrate in the kitchen. We are 100% focused on the software platform right now, with our appliance partners building the hardware.
Any particular plans or ways in which Chef Lewis will be involved?
Harris: Yes – Ross is now involved in our development cycles. His culinary expertise is guiding our features and appliance integration/control strategies.
Drop Kitchen’s Full Announcement:
Smart Kitchen Company Drop Secures $8M in Funding Led by Alsop Louie Partners
San Francisco, CA and Dublin, Ireland (January 4, 2018) – Smart kitchen company Drop, today announced that it has closed $8 million in Series A venture financing, led by Alsop Louie Partners with participation from internal investors Frontline and WI Harper, and Ireland’s top chef, the Michelin-starred Ross Lewis. Drop also announced that Founder and lead Partner, Stewart Alsop has joined the company’s board of directors.
The money will be used for working capital to continue development of Drop’s KitchenOS platform for connected appliances in the smart kitchen of the future as well as to support the company’s partnerships with appliance manufacturers worldwide.
In 2017, Drop launched partnerships with Bosch and GE Appliances, making it possible for owners of connected ovens to control them straight from a recipe on the Drop platform. This coming year, the company will be announcing multiple new partnerships with the world’s largest appliance brands.
“This investment will allow us to accelerate our trajectory towards becoming the de facto platform for the smart kitchen that empowers anyone to make delicious food at home,” said Ben Harris, CEO and co-founder. “We found the perfect investor in Stewart Alsop and the team at Alsop Louie, who bring experience in growing global platforms such as Twitch, and Stewart himself has a wealth of indispensable experience, leading NEA’s investment in TiVo and sitting on Sonos’ board for seven years.”
“We invested in Drop Kitchen because Ben and his team have a real vision for how to transform the basic cultural experience of cooking and consuming food in the home, as well as making it more entertaining and engaging,” said Stewart Alsop, partner, Alsop Louie Partners. “We think Drop can make that experience magical by partnering with every consumer appliance maker around the world.”