Drop raises $13.3 million to make connected kitchens smarter

Drop, a smart kitchen platform that wants to unify what it calls the “fragmented cooking experience,” has secured $13.3 million in a series A round of funding.

The raise comes as consumers continue investing in contraptions to connect their home to the internet, from video doorbells to refrigerators infused with computer vision. The smart kitchen market specifically was pegged at $14.5 billion in 2019, a figure that could more than double within five years.

Home cooking

Drop is a platform for connecting appliance manufacturers, recipe publishers, and grocers to people who like to cook at home. Founded out of Ireland in 2012, Drop was originally a hardware company, developing a connected kitchen scale that was sold globally through Apple Stores. But the company pivoted in 2015 to become more of a software company, with the promise of “connecting all stages of the cooking journey.” Today, that includes a mobile app with recipes, and Drop partners with myriad appliance makers — including Bosch, Kenwood, GE Appliances, and Electrolux — to tightly integrate recipes with kitchen equipment.

“We are building the one app that orchestrates all smart kitchen appliances and delivering the full stack IoT (internet of things) platform under the hood for the appliances to work seamlessly in that world,” Drop CEO Ben Harris told VentureBeat.

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In real terms, this means that besides Drop’s clients across mobile, web, and voice, it works closely with all the technologies required to make smartphones play ball with home appliances, including IoT firmware, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, while giving companies data insights into how consumers are using appliances and recipes.

Users add appliances to their Drop profile, and the app “rewrites” the recipe to suit the tools and appliances that a user has in their kitchen, which is also entirely localized to their region. The Drop “translation engine” converts a recipe between cups and fluid ounces or grams and milliliters. Drop also sends the correct temperatures, cooking times, and settings directly to a connected appliance to ensure the food is cooked according to the recipe’s instructions.

Drop: Smart kitchen platform

Above: Drop: Smart kitchen platform

The humble kitchen is now home to all manner of connected devices, including smart faucets that let users start and stop water flow with their voice and exhaust vents with embedded touchscreens. But it’s ultimately about making food — and we’ve seen a number of contenders in the field. Samsung last year acquired a smart food platform called Whisk that uses deep learning and natural language processing (NLP) to build an extensive “food genome” that charts the relationships between ingredients. Whisk is playing a big part in Samsung’s connected kitchen play, underpinning the meal-planning smarts in Samsung fridges.

Drop and Whisk have different methods but a similar goal — making recipes and shopping lists work more cohesively with the modern kitchen. One of Drop’s selling points is that it’s entirely appliance agnostic — reflecting the fact that many or most kitchens house multiple brands.

Drop had previously raised around $8 million, and it has nabbed some notable backers with this series A. The round was co-led by Los Angeles-based Alpha Edison, whose partner Steve Horowitz now joins Drop’s board of directors. Horowitz left Microsoft in 2006 to spearhead Android development at Google prior to launch. Morpheus Ventures also led the round, with managing director Ray Musci now joining Drop’s board.

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