By Sahil Patel
Tastemade was founded over a year ago by three former Demand Media execs with the goal of creating the top global consumer brand in the food and lifestyle category on digital platforms. Since launch, the company has built a digital video network that features a YouTube channel with original programming and more than 200,000 subscribers as well as a growing MCN with over 100 channels and more than 12 million unique visitors per month.
To keep the growth going, the company has raised $10 million in a Series B round led by Raine Ventures, a new venture arm of private equity firm The Raine Group, which focuses on investing in digital, media and entertainment, and sports and lifestyle companies.* Series A investor Redpoint Ventures also contributed to the round.
In addition to the funding, Tastemade is officially unveiling its iOS app, which lets users shoot HD-quality videos of their favorite dishes and eateries as well as watch videos uploaded by other users.**
The Tastemade app goes a little beyond your everyday video app, though: it features a pre-set format that allows users to watch, shoot, upload, and share videos that are short, but feel episodic. Tastemade co-founder Steven Kydd says that when the team was developing the app, they wanted to figure out a way to “help users create their own show.” This meant building a format that users (as well as advertisers and distribution partners) could get accustomed to and easily replicate. “Formats drive the media business,” says Kydd. So he says the company got to work on a format that would offer a structured way to shoot content (and feel native to mobile devices), without sacrificing the space for people to get creative. The result is an app allows users to shoot a series of short clips, all around a pre-set framework (intro shot, shots of the place/dish, etc.), and then edit them together into a short, one-minute mobile film or episode.
This approach has a second purpose — it also gives Tastemade an owned-and-operated space to scout for new talent. The thinking goes that by giving users the chance to shoot and upload high-quality, episodic mobile videos, Tastemade will be able to identify some undiscovered creators. The company will then bring these creators in (effectively “signing” them) and help them grow their audience and generate revenue through advertising, merchandising, book deals, TV deals, etc. Essentially, Tastemade is looking to build a foodie-creator farm, and it already owns the plot of land. If Tastemade can successfully build such a pipeline — a “repeatable ecosystem” as Kydd describes it — and do so on a global basis, it has a very interesting business model on its hands.
* The Raine Groupe was founded by Joe Ravitch and Jeff Sline in partnership with WME Entertainment, and is also an investor in Vice.
** The app arrived in the App Store a little over a month ago, but as far as I can tell, this is the first time Tastemade is talking about it publicly.