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Marley Spoon partners with Martha Stewart for U.S. re-launch of cook-at-home delivery service

TechCrunch TechCrunch 14/06/2016 Steve O'Hear

Marley Spoon, the cook-at-home food delivery startup that competes with the likes of Blue Apron, Plated, and Rocket Internet’s HelloFresh, is effectively re-launching today in the U.S. through a tie-in with household name Martha Stewart.

In partnership with Nasdaq-listed Sequential Brands Group Inc., the recipe kit service is being rebranded as ‘Martha & Marley Spoon’ and will feature Martha Stewart’s recipes and cooking techniques coupled with the existing Marley Spoon proposition that sees pre-portioned fresh ingredients for each recipe delivered to you to make it easier and more cost effective to cook at home.

In a sense, the partnership with Stewart is a continuation of the startup’s existing narrative — that recipe kit services are competing with the multi-billion dollar weekly grocery shop not necessarily each other — and that the biggest challenge relates to converting offline food commerce to online and raising awareness that such a service exists.

Bringing in and working with a big name like Stewart and going as far as re-branding and re-launching Marley Spoon in the U.S. is co-founder and CEO Fabian Siegel gamble to solve just that.

He’s previously conceded that unlike other food e-commerce opportunities — referencing his time as co-CEO of online take-out marketplace Delivery Hero in particular — people don’t search online for a recipe kit service. Therefore online marketing and SEO isn’t as effective as more traditional media channels, which in Marley Spoon’s case has included various TV advertising. Now he has Martha Stewart in his arsenal.

To that end, in a very passionate call, Siegel was adamant that Martha Stewart’s involvement goes far further than her simply lending her name or endorsing Marley Spoon but that this is a genuine partnership in which, he says, she is the expert and he has lots to learn. That’s not only in reference to Stewart’s huge consumer reach in the U.S. but also her genuine passion for cooking.

He also re-iterated that Marley Spoon isn’t trying to change consumer eating habits — converting those who don’t cook at home to those that do — but only their buying habits. Why shop for fresh ingredients offline at a grocery store, with its huge overheads and wastage — when you can get the exact ingredients for each recipe and at a price that Siegel claims works out cheaper.

That, of course, only works out if the cost of raising awareness and acquiring customers can be recouped, which in turn relies on those customers sticking around. You know, those pesky unit economics. “If only I could show you the data,” says Siegel, sounding as bullish as ever.

Separately, TechCrunch has learned that Marley Spoon recently raised €6.5m in a Series B2 round, which Siegel chose not to announce. Backing comes from existing investors QD Ventures, and Lakestar. One source tells us the round was based on a pre-money valuation of €95 million. Siegel declined to comment on the funding round, which he said was on public record anyway via a filing in Germany, nor the startup’s valuation. “I don’t find it interesting,” he says, “it only validates where you’ve got to not where you’re going”.

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