At Goldbely, we are explorers of food! We are on a mission to discover all things delicious. On our journey, we’re seeking out the legendary local restaurants, amazing artisans and great gourmet food purveyors that produce amazing regional products. The care and craftsmanship that goes into the preparation of their specialty dishes brings us great inspiration.
You can only watch so much Food Network without feeling the burning impulse to hop in the car and drive until you hit New Orleans, where the beignets are freshly powdered and the crawfish etouffee is calling your name. But what if you could experience the distinct aromas, textures, and flavors of low-country cuisine without ever leaving your city apartment?
Goldbely founder Joe Ariel is making foodie dreams like these come true. His company finds the country's most unique and tasty dishes, prepared by some of the most talented food artisans, and brings them straight to your doorstep. He and his team are explorers of food, and they're on a mission to bring you a taste of the world, dish by dish.
Explorers of Food
Goldbely is a site for adventure-eaters: Those who want to taste and learn about foods from various regions and cultures.
"Our goal is to find every amazing food, every amazing dish in the country that's local or regional, and make it accessible to people everywhere," Ariel said.
One couple, customers from Arizona, educates themselves on the art of fine food by ordering from Goldbely once a week. They share a different signature item from a different region of the country every Friday night.
To make sure customers get the best of the best, Goldbely hand-selects its vendors. Food is more than just a meal, so their standards are high. That's why they have a remarkably low rate of vendor acceptance at 3%.
"They have to taste great, they have to package well as a gift, and they have to travel really well," Ariel said. "But mostly we want there to be an interesting story with the proprietor. We're not just selling food; it's food as an experience."
On the site, you'll find dishes from every corner of the U.S. and something to appeal to all tastebuds. Try treats from Baconery, the hip New York bakery where everything's made with bacon. Or taste-test the heart-topped lobster pies from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company. Everything is made to order, just for you. Even Jenny's famous ice cream sandwiches, which Ariel says are "like nothing you've ever imagined," can be shipped straight to your home in mint condition.
"We connect serious eaters with America's greatest food purveyors," Ariel said. "It's direct -- You order a pie from Achatz [Handmade Pie Company], and they're baking that pie for you. We have an oyster purveyor in the Virginia area, and they literally fish out the oysters when you place your order."
A taste of home
Anyone who's eaten 'Buffalo' wings outside of Buffalo knows -- it's just not the same. Some dishes are just better when they're prepared locally, by the original creators.
"I've traveled a lot and have had the luxury of trying a lot of different foods," Ariel said. "But what I've realized is there are just so many unbelievable dishes, and for whatever reason, they're just not the same in other places."
So for Ariel, it's important that Goldbely showcases the recipes and talents of amazing artisans that have been doing this for years.
"In some cases, these recipes have been crafted over hundreds of years. You can't even copy that if you try."
Many Goldbely customers are looking to gift a taste of home to homesick loved ones, or to friends going through a tough time. After all, nothing quite transports you to the warmth and comfort of home like exquisite local food.
"What we're doing is incredibly rewarding," Ariel said. "Because we see people send dishes along with messages when someone passes away, or to a loved one when they might be far away, saying how much they miss them. And they give them a taste of their hometown. People want to share that taste with friends and loved ones, and we make that possible."
Shaking up the industry
Ultimately, Ariel sees Goldbely as a way to democratize the fine foods industry. They want to shine the spotlight on the little guy -- the Mom & Pop shop who makes knishes, a lost art form on the lower east side of NY, or a little shop in Hawaii that specializes in macademia nut pies.
"We're enabling great artisan foodmakers operating on a small, local level, and that's a beautiful thing," Ariel said. "It takes out the barriers of finding a distributor, and takes out a lot of the politics that goes into it.
"I'm not a foodie in the sense that I go to the fanciest restaurant in each town. To me it's about the comfort foods, and the local specialties. It's not necessarily expensive stuff, it's food of the people."
As a kid growing up, Ariel recalls that sharing and learning about food was very much at the epicenter. His stay-at-home Israeli father prided himself on always having interesting food on the table, and dinners out with the family were a "magical experience."
"Food is one of those bonding experiences; you can bring people together for a special occasion, and share it together," Ariel said. "And that's what our site is about. It's about sharing, and it's about treating yourself and the people you love.
Goldbely believes people should be able to discover unique and exotic foods. But most importantly, they should be able to share these amazing foods with their friends, family, and coworkers, wherever it may be.
When did you launch?
We launched ~4 months ago
How much revenue have you realized since launch?
How big can this company be?
The $11 Billion food gifting market is highly fragmented right now. Customers tend to know one merchant that they really like, but don't have a place where they can find other merchants of similar quality. By providing a curated list of the best merchants and an excellent user experience we think we can own a significant portion of the market. Omaha steaks is $500 million business and Harry and David is $200 million business. We think we can be bigger than both of them.
What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?
We aren't just selling food gifts, we are selling experiences. Food is one of the most emotional gifts you can give. Each of our items has a unique story to tell about a culture and a place. We are experts at telling the stories of each of our merchants and items. Kickstarter has shown us how a captivating story can motivate people to donate to or pre-buy creative projects, we are bringing a similar experience to food. Most people already have most of the crap they need. They best gifts are experiences, and that's what we focus on providing everyday.
How will you handle quality control as you scale?
Initially we are only working with merchants that already have a reliable fulfillment process in place. There are enough of these merchants out there for us to grow for at least the next year. In the future we plan to help new merchants set up quality fulfillment processes. All of this is coupled with Zappos-like focus on customer service. Everyone on our team fields customer service calls so we all know exactly what our customers are asking for.
How will you reach more customers?
We have seen early success with press and social media. Our content lends itself well to both. We just partnered with Facebook Gifts, so millions of their users will now have the opportunity to send Goldbely food gifts to friends. In the future plan to focus more on media partnerships, event planners and corporate gifters.
Do you think your prices are too high?
Our prices range based on product and where/how quickly it ships. some items are very affordable, some are more of a luxury item. In general our prices are comprable to a nice bouquet of flowers ordered online. Some items are expensive because we only offer the best dishes and they often need to be shipped overnight or by 2 day delivery. Customers tend to be less price sensitive when they are buying gifts but we offer a range of products that also appeal to customers with a smaller budget.
What are your margins?
Our average margins range based on the product anywhere from 20-50%
Any data on repeat customers?
50% of our customers have ordered multiple times
What keeps you up at night/What's your biggest risk?
Not capturing the market fast enough. There is a clearly unmet need here and moving quickly to establish a meaningful brand will be important for us to capitalize on the opportunity. If we can capture a large customer base quickly, we will be able to drive more sales to our merchant partners, and reduce the risk of any potential competitors making a run at us.
What will Goldbely look like in 10 Years?
We want to be the brand that people instantly think of when they think of food gifts. Millions of people will discover amazing food that they never knew existed, our gifts will improve our customers relationships, and the world will be a tastier place.
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