Irish smart kitchen company Fresco has raised a further $20 million (€18.4 million) and said it will double its workforce in two years as the company continues to develop its connected kitchen platform.
The Dublin-based company, which offers a neutral platform to connect smart kitchen appliances, said the money will be used to double its 60-strong team and allow it to invest in improving its digital platform.
"The smart kitchen is going to be the most important part of the smart home. That's what this $20 million funding round is going towards," said Fresco chief executive Ben Harris. "We are a true platform where we are listening to all of our appliance partners, bringing them together as part of this alliance."
Fresco, which rebranded earlier this month from Drop, was co-founded by Mr Harris, Jack Phelan, Jonny McCauley and Tim Redfern in 2012, and developed its own smart scale. The company then developed a dedicated platform that connects appliance manufacturers, recipe publishers and food stores together.
Its KitchenOS software has been integrated into products by appliance manufacturers such as Bosch, Electrolux, Kenwood, GE Appliances, Thermomix and Panasonic. The "connects with Fresco" brand certifies appliances that can be controlled from smartphones, tablets, smart speakers and smart home assistants, while the app can guide consumers through the cooking process.
It also uses artificial intelligence to pull recipes into the Fresco app from other websites, and highlight the important information for cooks in an easy to follow format.
Fresco is tapping into a smart appliance market that analysts predict will have 248 million users by 2027.
The Series B financing round is the first time the company has taken funding from appliance partners, with the round led by Instant Brands and Vorwerk, and a third backer to be announced later in the year as part of a new partnership.
The company’s existing venture investors also took part in the round.
It is not the first time that appliance makers had expressed an interest in investing; Mr Harris said the company had been approached before, but at the time it didn’t make sense to tie itself to one manufacturer.
“We realised that a lot of appliance manufacturers were looking at how important connected cooking is, how important one platform that sits across the whole kitchen is and that they wanted it to be an independent company and not delivered by any one appliance manufacturer,” he said. The company pulled a syndicate of appliance manufacturers together for the funding round, deciding on a maximum of $20 million.
Prior to this round, Fresco had raised about $25 million in funding, including a $20 million Series A round in 2020. Its backers include Steve Horowitz, one of the original software engineers behind Google's Android mobile operating system, Skype backer Morpheus Ventures and Irish-based Act Venture Capital, with Dublin VC Frontline, Chapter One owner Ross Lewis and Domini Kemp of Itsa also among the company early supporters.
The company is recruiting for a range of roles over the coming two years, and Mr Harris said a significant number of new hires would be attached to its Irish office.
The latest round of funding will be used to further develop the platform into what the company says will be a world-leading experience for the connected kitchen. Fresco is also planning further partnerships throughout the year.
"Instant Brands and Fresco are working together to develop innovative breakthroughs in the kitchen, and beyond," said Ben Gadbois, chief executive and president of Instant Brands. "This investment deepens our partnership further and supercharges these initiatives."