Gourmet meals portal iChef.in has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Springboard Ventures, an investment arm of media house Times Group's holding company Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL).
Operated by Arya Food and Packaging Pvt Ltd, iChef is currently present in Mumbai and plans to launch its service in 10 more cities over the next 18-24 months, it said in a statement.
iChef delivers ready-to-cook gourmet recipes with pre-portioned fresh ingredients. Users can order ingredients according to the dish they pick from their menu.
The startup was founded by Chirag Arya, a graduate from Georgia Institute of Technology. He previously worked with Deloitte Consulting and founded educational institute AP Guru and restaurant chain Wok in the Box before launching iChef.
"The investment from Springboard Ventures will strengthen the company's marketing and consumer acquisition strategy through access to BCCL's stable of print publications, television, radio, digital and other media platforms," Arya said.
BCCL usually invests in firms through its arm Brand Capital. Although sector agnostic, it largely targets firms with consumer products or services that require advertising. It uses its ad space in various media properties as a currency to pick stakes in small, medium as well as large firms.
Springboard, which is part of Brand Capital, focuses on co-creating what it calls 'Super Brands' from asset-light business concepts. The investee firms under Springboard include grocery e-tailing venture LocalBanya, lingerie firm Daiki Brands (with brands such as Biara and Peri Peri) and diabetes care firm Lifespan. Its latest investment was in VIVO Healthcare Ltd, a Gurgaon-based healthcare training and education firm.
The food-tech space has become a red-hot investment destination for both angel and venture capital investors. Startups in this space either offer an ordering platform from restaurants (Foodpanda, TinyOwl, Zomato and others) or run their own kitchens/cafes. Some serve ready-to-cook or ready-to-serve meal boxes.
The other set, comprising companies such as Bite Club, Yumist and SpoonJoy, connects consumers to independent chefs or offers food ordering from in-house kitchens.
Another food-tech venture InnerChef belongs to the other category like iChef offering a platform for ready-to-cook products.