Two healthy ready meal startups are turning to the crowd for funding to capitalise on booming demand for online convenience food caused by the Covid pandemic.

Equals Health is asking for £180k on Seedrs to invest in online marketing, NPD and new kitchen facilities, with the campaign 90% funded as The Grocer went to press.

Meanwhile, handmade frozen ready meal brand By Ruby has successfully beaten its £125k funding target on Seedrs, with the campaign currently overfunding at £171k.

Equals Health is set to launch a range of frozen meals online and in Planet Organic, where it already has other products listed. Sales at the business are up more than 200% year to date.

Equals Health was founded by Harrison Jones, who starred in the 2017 series of BBC’s The Apprentice in a bid to win £250k backing from Alan Sugar for his healthy eating brand.

“I applied for The Apprentice because I had this idea of a healthy eating brand but didn’t have the money or following to get any sort of head start, so I went on for the exposure and possible investment,” Jones said.

“This is the next step for Equals Health and will help us grow as a business and into a household name in healthy eating and organic food and products.”

By Ruby plans to use the money to invest in marketing the brand online and servicing retail demand with in-store points of sale and branded freezers.

The business will also expand its team and continue with NPD.The range of meals are made by founder Ruby Bell from organic and free-range ingredients and include Ruby’s fish pie, coconut chicken curry, grass-fed beef lasagne, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.

By Ruby has recently won a listing for 17 lines to be stocked in Whole Foods Market. The business increased DTC sales 200% in March as the pandemic hit, with growth in November of 120% compared to the same month last year.

“We are delighted with the response of our Crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs,” co-founder Milly Bagot said.

“We managed to overfund even before launching publicly and are excited about growing our seriously special food brand in the coming months and years. It is bolstering to know that the British public really care about our ingredients focused flexitarian approach using only sustainably sourced British meat and fish.”

A raft of other food and drink startups have also hit crowdfunding targets this week, including DTC breakfast delivery brand Blend My Day, which makes plant-based, dairy-free ready-to-blend shakes and ready-to-soak oat bowls, raising has surpassed its £100k Seedrs target to raise almost £130k to help it add a foodservice and online retail channel in the next six months.

Kids all-natural soft drinks startup Doodles has hit its £750k Crowdcube target and is overfunding at £860k.

Two Drifters Distillery has beaten a £150k target on Crowdcube to scale the business and is overfunding at £235k. It aims to create one of the first carbon-negative rum distilleries in the world.

London craft brewery startup The Park Brewery has more than doubled its £100k crowdfunding target to raise more than £220k on Crowdcube.