Meal delivery service RealEats has raised $16.3 million through a Series A round to help build a national brand presence and speed its move into an 80,000-square-foot Geneva facility. The funds also are expected to fuel innovation and support the launch of a new meal line this year.
The round was led by Hamilton Lane on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which participated through its co-investment fund managed by the firm. The round also includes global health and wellness brand GNC, Armory Square Ventures, and Excell Partners, officials say.
“We are thrilled to partner with such highly strategic and supportive investors who share our vision for a healthier food future,” says Dan Wise, founder and CEO of RealEats America. “This capital raise is a testament to the dedication of our amazing team, the delicious real meals they make, and our incredibly loyal customers across the country. RealEats is poised to expand significantly with this infusion of capital and the growing consumer demand for healthy real food.”
The financing round also has led to a couple of new board members. Hamilton Lane will represent its investors with a seat on the board, and GNC’s Yong Kai Wong, executive vice chairman, is already working closely with RealEats to launch several strategic collaborations. In early November, RealEats will become the first fresh meal brand available for purchase via GNC.
“With its world-class brand and its 86 years of science-backed expertise in health and wellness, as well as access to a vast distribution network of stores domestically and globally, GNC has been a tremendous platform for discovering and supporting emerging and innovative brands and technologies,” Yong Kai says. “Our partnership with RealEats, as part of GNC Ventures, the innovation and technology incubation arm of GNC that focuses on fast-growing, disruptive companies in health and wellness, allows GNC to provide fresh and healthy meals and a holistic wellness offering to our customers.”
Launched in 2017, RealEats offers farm-to-table, ready-to-eat food to subscribers using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients from New York’s agricultural community. These meals are cooked by chefs and packaged with a technique like the French sous-vide style. (Sous-vide, or under vacuum, uses precise temperatures to deliver consistent results for tasty, restaurant-quality food.)
The pandemic grew interest in RealEats—the company raised $2.8 million in private capital last year. In late 2019, RealEats had won the $1 million prize in the inaugural Grow-NY business contest, an innovation and technology startup challenge focused on developing the food, beverage and agriculture hub in Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier.
With the progress RealEats has made, Armory Square Ventures has added to its previous investment in the company. Since ASV’s seed investment a couple of years ago, RealEats has provided culinary offerings to a growing set of passionate customers through a pandemic, says Somak Chattopadhyay, managing partner.
“Now that many more people are spending time at home and the lines between work and home have blurred, we believe RealEats will continue to scale,” he says.
Already, RealEats’ revenue has grown 150 percent over last year. The company, which employs 135 people, expects to add 75 employees in the next couple of years. It hopes to move into its 80,000 square-foot facility in the first quarter next year.
For Rochester-based Excell Partners, a venture capital fund that invests in high-tech, high-growth startups in New York, RealEats is a success story. The fund also boosted its investment.
“Finding healthy, high-quality meals for your family is even more important today and RealEats helps consumers achieve that,” says Rami Katz, Excell’s COO. “This is our fourth investment in RealEats and we are pleased to continue supporting the company’s tremendous growth.”
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.