Subscription curated cheese box brand Cheesegeek has raised more than £420,000 in an oversubscribed crowdfunding round as it eyes expansion into physical retail.
The DTC business – which was Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Steven Bartlett’s first investment on the show – will use the crowdsourced cash to build out a physical retail presence as well as expand its tech licensing services, and build “specialist fulfilment revenue streams”.
The brand hopes to shift consumers towards buying better-quality cheeses rather than mass-produced products at the supermarket.
“Cheese is not a commodity,” said founder Edward Hancock. “It is a magical, special, crafted, natural food product that deserves to be respected, and we will do everything we can to build back a value in cheese that reflects what it takes to produce it responsibly. We want everyone to cherish that magic, and maybe that means eating less cheese, but eating better.”
The company was founded in 2017, when Hancock quit his job in fund management to pursue his passion for cheese, launching Cheesegeek from an industrial fridge installed in his mum’s utility room. The brand has since grown more than 50,000 subscribers, who receive monthly selection boxes packed with cheese picked just for them by Cheesegeek’s technology, called Cassie, which manages all orders, logs customer preferences, knows what is in season and “holds our cheese universe”.
The brand also has several hospitality clients, including Michelin-starred The Frog by Adam Handling, The Cadogan Hotel and Humble Grape. It has already establised a concession counter at British made-only ‘department store’ Brityard in London’s Regent Street, which opened in November.
Cheesegeek set out to raise £350,000 in the crowdfunder, but went beyond its target this week. As well as Bartlett, other investors include Perfect Redd, Goodfun Offshore, and Jamie Murray-Wells, the founder of Glasses Direct and now head of extended reality at Google.
The ambition is for Cheesegeek to become “an omnichannel, tech-driven cheese innovation specialist”.
Speaking to The Grocer last year, Hancock said he was driven by a genuine love of cheese.
“I read about an entrepreneur who said he walked up and down the supermarket aisles looking for products where there’s been a lack of innovation and a gap in the market, to decide what to launch,” Hancock said. “I’m the opposite of that. I’m not an entrepreneur, I’ve not spent my whole life thinking about making a hell of a lot of money in business. For me, it was purely done because I love cheese and felt cheese has been represented poorly, was too traditional and hadn’t kept up with the times.”