Cookaway Ping Coombes

The Cookaway added Malaysian cuisine to its offer, with help from Masterchef winner Ping Coombes

World cuisine recipe kit challenger The Cookaway has hired advisors to help secure a major strategic investor as it looks to rapidly scale the business.

A series A funding round is being lined up for the first half of 2023, aiming to raise a minimum of £5m, with a top-end target of £10m.

Corporate finance firm Bosham Capital Advisors is running the process for the business, which includes a £1.5m bridge round in the lead up to the bigger fundraising next year.

The bridge round will value the Cookaway at £15m, with £500k already committed from existing investors, which include a former chairman of Tate & Lyle, a former CFO of Premier Foods and the ex-CIO of Sysco.

CEO Sahil Verma, who co-founded the business with his wife Nidhi in 2019, told The Grocer the money will used to supercharge growth, focusing on marketing and building further capacity.

The Cookaway offers a subscription-free recipe kit service for a variety of world cuisines, including Indian, Japanese, Greek and Malaysian, with a choice of more than 180 recipes.

As well as the traditional meal kit offer, it hosts a monthly virtual cook-along with celebrity chefs, including a number of MasterChef champions, and a corporate ‘Powered by Cookaway’ business putting on events for the likes of Sainsbury’s, Charlie Bigham’s and Ikea.

“We are a true challenger brand with a disruptive consumer proposition and underlying business model that drives loyalty on the back of our products and not by tying our customers into a subscription,” Verma said.

“We are not a mass market brand and we do not compete with the mainstream commoditised recipe box brands.”

The Cookaway is hoping to attract a strategic investor from the food retail or wholesale space to lead the series A round but is also looking at family investment offices and venture capital firms.

“It is not just about the money but also finding a partner that has a synergy with the business, giving access to supply chain, logistics and scale, which means we can grow front end and they can support growth in the back end,” Verma added.

He also highlighted a “huge” scale opportunity for the business, which has ambitions to generate annual turnover of £50m within five years.

“We are a low frequency, high-penetration business, which means we are not asking our customers to cook with us three times a week,” Verma said. “If they cook with us 10-12 times a year then our commercial model holds up really well. We are a retention business not a churn and customer acquisition business, which is a huge departure from the standard recipe kit model.”

The Cookaway raised £1.5m last year, with £800k of the round coming from crowdfunding investors, using the money to add new cuisines to its offer, boost brand awareness and bring more chefs on board.

Bosham managing director Adrian Faure said Sahil and Nidhi were “forward thinkers” with a proven track record for executing ambitious plans.

“The Cookaway has a clear differentiation over other products in this sector, which has allowed them to build a loyal community that rallies around the brand. The opportunity is significant with the size of the addressable market.”