Foraged, the innovative online marketplace for wild and specialty foods, has secured $2.7 million in seed funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. This round of funding includes notable investors such as Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp; Eric Baker, co-founder of StubHub; Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify; and Micha Kaufman, founder and CEO of Fiverr. These investments, along with a previous contribution from Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Gramercy Tavern and Top Chef judge, bring Foraged's total funding to $3 million. With this infusion of capital, Foraged aims to enhance its platform, offering a more seamless and robust experience for both buyers and sellers in the online marketplace.
The timing of this funding is crucial as American consumers faced the largest annual increase in food prices since the 1980s last year. Factors such as inflation and global supply chain disruptions have contributed to rising food costs. However, amidst these challenges, wild and specialty foods have been steadily gaining popularity. In fact, the global mushroom market alone is projected to reach a value of $78.9 billion by 2024. Despite the increasing demand for these unique food products, the market remains fragmented, making it difficult for buyers and sellers to connect.
Launched in May 2021, Foraged is a game-changer in the industry. It empowers small-scale food producers, including independent farmers and foragers, to build sustainable businesses while providing everyday people with convenient access to naturally occurring foods. The platform has experienced exceptional growth over the past year, with revenue increasing by over 400% from customers across all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. Moreover, the number of repeat customers has grown by more than 1,000% year over year.
Jack Hamrick, co-founder and CEO of Foraged, commented on the increasing awareness of wild foods: "Mainstream awareness of wild foods has been quietly, but intensely growing over the past few years. More people than ever have discovered that there are alternatives to the local supermarket. This funding not only validates the potential of our platform but also moves us closer to realizing our vision for the food system of the future - where consumers can discover and connect with independent food producers in a more meaningful way."
Prior to Foraged, small-scale food producers were often limited to selling at local farmers markets or faced the daunting task of setting up and managing their own websites, which presented significant barriers to entry. With Foraged, they now have access to an end-to-end, turnkey solution that handles every aspect of their business. This comprehensive platform handles shipping, including for perishable goods, and provides secure payment processing through Stripe. It even offers a mobile app for vendors to communicate with customers, upload product photos, and manage local pickups. Foraged enables vendors to seamlessly enter the e-commerce market and instantly connect with tens of thousands of new customers from all over the country. Likewise, consumers can now access rare and unique foods that were previously unavailable online.
The Foraged team consists of professionals from the technology, culinary, and sustainability sectors, including individuals with backgrounds at Apple, Squarespace, Anheuser-Busch, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Notably, the team includes a chef with experience at the Michelin-starred restaurant Noma. Foraged has gained the trust of home cooks nationwide, as well as Michelin-starred restaurants and James Beard award-winning chefs like Rob Rubba, the 2023 winner.
Jeremy Levine, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, expressed excitement about leading this financing round, stating, "We believe in Foraged's mission to empower independent food producers and provide consumers with a unique shopping experience. Foraged has reimagined the way consumers think about where and how they get their food."
With its latest round of funding, Foraged is well-positioned to transform the way people buy and sell wild and specialty foods. By providing a user-friendly platform for small-scale food producers, it creates opportunities for sustainable businesses to thrive while offering consumers a diverse and exciting selection of natural and rare foods. Foraged is not only revolutionizing the online marketplace; it is also contributing to the future of our food system by fostering connections between independent food producers and conscious consumers.