IOK Labs Inc., which operates culinary experience-focussed platform Klovechef, has raised $1 million (about Rs 7.5 crore) in a pre-Series A funding round.
The round in the United States- and Bengaluru-based company has been led by startup incubator and accelerator Venture Catalysts, one of the most active investment platforms this year.
Other participants in this round include investment and strategic platform JPIN VCATs, angel investor Ravindranath Chenna, and other existing investors including SOSV (Food-X), NB Ventures. Other angel investors also participated in this round.
Prior to this pre-Series A round, Klovechef raised funding from backers including Rajan Anandan and LetsVenture, and other angels.
Klovechef was set up in 2017 by Bahubali Shete and Asha Shete, with celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor later joining as a co-founder. The company says its artificial intelligence-based platform brings conversational technology to enhance consumer culinary and buying experiences.
This platform acts as an assistant and allows users to add ingredients to their grocery list, get recipe recommendations, and receive personalised step-by-step help with the meal preparation process.
The company will use the capital it has raised to grow its user base and accelerate its expansion into the North American voice shopping market.
“Since the viral outbreak [of Covid-19], people are preferring to rely on home-cooked meals on account of safety and hygiene concerns. Consequently, we believe that Klovechef is well-poised to capitalize on this trend through its remarkable AI-based product,” Venture Catalysts co-founder and president Apoorva Ranjan Sharma said.
Klovechef says it already has strategic alliances with Amazon Alexa and Amazon Meal Kits (India), as well as other meal kit providers in the US and Canada.
The investment marks the latest startup bet by Venture Catalysts, which also operates an investment vehicle – the 9Unicorns Accelerator Fund – that hit its first close at Rs 100 crore (around $13.7 million) in September.
The incubator and accelerator was set up in 2015 by Sharma, Anuj Golecha, Anil Jain and Gaurav Jain. It invests between $250,000 and $1.5 million in early-stage startups and provides networking opportunities and mentoring to its portfolio companies.
Some of its recent investments include beverage brand BrewHouse Tea Brewing Co., employee service desk platform Rezolve.ai, retail-technology startup Gully Network, electric vehicle charging services startup Charge+Zone and business-to-business healthcare product distribution platform Biddano.