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Tastemade has raised $10 million to grow its online video food network. Cofounder Larry Fitzgibbon said the company’s goal is to become a major global brand for food and lifestyle content.
“Just as the Food Network did this for the cable era, we want to do the same thing for the age of digital,” he said in an interview at VentureBeat’s office. “Digital is a completely different platform, and video and mobile technology present a huge opportunity to create a global community of food lovers.”
Fitzgibbon and cofounders Joe Perez and Steven Kydd previously founded Demand Media, which is now a public company, and wanted their next project to be about something they really loved. They started Tastemade as a YouTube network in 2012 with programming from over 100 channels. It amassed a massive audience, with over 12 million visitors a month.
As the community continued to grow, the founders saw an opportunity to produce original content by working with “food tastemakers.” Fitzgibbon described these people as “native talent” who are already blogging, shooting videos, and actively participating in social media. To start, Tastemade has three specific shows — Thirsty For, Sorted Food at the Table, and Perennial Plate. Thirsty For consists of “how to” videos for making interesting drinks; Sorted Food features chefs from a popular cooking show from the U.K.; and the Perennial Plate is the project of a couple that travels the world creating food-focused travel videos.
Tastemade also released an iPhone app that makes it easier for people to create videos. Tastemakers can create quick videos called “raves” reviewing restaurants. The episodes are one minute long and consist of people talking about where they are, what the atmosphere is like, and the overall food and experience. The app is structured to guide people through the filming process. They take a series of clips, and the Tastemade app will knit them together and add in background music so the videos look professional. Perez said this empowers people who have a unique voice to take advantage of digital video, which is a powerful and increasingly important medium.
“Some of the best moments in life happen around a table when we are eating with people we love,” he said. “We want to help people connect and learn about food in different ways. Food is such a great starting place, because you can also explore other areas like travel and health.”
Food programming is extremely popular. The Food Network has millions of viewers and chef celebrities like Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse rose to fame through their cable shows. The channel also has a strong online presence. Reality television shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef are also popular, and the Internet is home to an active community of food bloggers, food photographers, YouTube videographers, and recipe-writers. Tastemade will use this financing to redefine this content for a mobile, social era.
Raine Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures participated in this round, which brings Tastemade’s total to $15.3 million. Tastemade is based in Santa Monica, Calif.