Jack Hamrick tried to cut back on the amount of red meat he ate, but the typical portobello mushroom selection soon became boring.
When they started looking for wild mushrooms called jungle chicken, they had a hard time getting them. It was then that he met Andy Conner, a certified mushroom picker, who had the opposite problem: difficulty selling 10 pounds of seaweed.
There’s no choice here, Hamrick said — Etsy doesn’t have a food category, Hamrick said — they’ve teamed up with a public wild and gourmet marketplace to offer “collectors” a place to sell groceries in May 2021. Installed. they buy. cut out.
Hamrick says the market for mushrooms is $13 billion and calls Foraged an “ETC of specialty products.” This is a truly lucrative market and the average price of items on the site ranges from $40 to $50 per pound.
However, he doesn’t want you to think that Foraged is some sort of online farmer’s market.
“This is for heritage and boutique collectors, as well as farmers who want to sell food with history,” he said. “I have seen farmers markets try this online, but it often ended up with a subscription and then failed. We have artisans selling food and related products that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Here’s how it works: villagers sign up to sell at the market, and pasture employees check in and introduce them to the shops and e-commerce tools. The company currently takes 10% of the value of a shopping cart — last month the average order value was $123 — but as it gets more sophisticated, the company will look for additional ways to monetize, Hamrick said.
When Hamrick and Connor first opened the apps, almost immediately 100 people signed up for the sale. Within a few months, 500 customers bought from the market, from chefs, Michelin starred and James Beard holders, to culinary enthusiasts. Currently, the site accounts for an average of 20% of purchases from regular customers.
Since launch, the co-founders have been busy building the company, which, while good, has forced them to take charge, Hamrick said. Foraged is growing 434% qoq after spending just $3,000 on marketing and is acquiring TikTok thanks to collectors like Alexis Nichol.
With a presence in 47 states and five countries, Hamrick & Connor has additional ambitions for the company that include building a social network/community for mushroom and gourmet lovers like them. Well, pay for itself in the end.
Last September, several investors, including celebrity chefs and restaurateurs Tom Colicchio and Sam Shank, CEO of Hotel Tonight and commercial director of Airbnb, invested $200,000 in pre-funding into Forage.
“The natural food category has the ideal conditions for a large market to grow: a disparate group of suppliers who can turn their hobby into a worthwhile business, and enthusiastic consumers looking for new, better products directly from manufacturers.” Shank said by email. “All of that, plus an incredible amount of founders to be executed on occasion.”
Colicchio told me that he invests in companies that fit his areas of interest and offer solutions to problems. As for forage, he prefers to eat wild mushrooms – his favorite porcini mushrooms, morels and chanterelles – but if someone is not directly involved in a restaurant or a sale, he sells them to people and makes a living before fodder. do.
In addition, he enjoys working with small family farms and with the idea of making products accessible not only to chefs, but to every consumer.
“There are so many things that are hard to find, like sassafras leaves,” Colicchio said. “I would drive to Kentucky to pick them up, but with this website, I don’t have to travel and it’s easy to navigate.”
Meanwhile, the new funding allowed the company to join technology contractors for the first time at a hiring last month. Hamrick also wants to create multiple custom packaging options for vendors to standardize offerings while allowing brands to maintain their exclusivity.
“Now that we have a higher budget, we are targeting strategic partnerships with influencers in the gourmet, culinary and community sectors and will add more features,” he said. “The idea is to connect the market with the community so we have a strategic moat.”
As sales are expected to be “giant” this year, the company plans to have a more formal seed round later this year and raise $5 million.