The Orange Chef, a smart kitchen startup that managed to get its connected scale into Williams Sonoma stores and score $1.2 million in funding from Google, has finally closed the book on its hardware business. The company, which made an iPad cover and a connected scale called The Prep Pad, has sold its Prep Pad hardware assets to Perfect Co., which also makes a connected scale.
The Orange Chef sold its software and employees to recipe startup Yummly last year. The deal was a good one for The Orange Chef, but it left the consumers who purchased the $150 Prep Pad without a software update, since the Prep Pad hardware wasn’t part of the Yummly deal. The Orange Chef founder Santiago Merea had pledged to keep the software as up to date as possible, but it was a burden for him while trying to hold down his day job at Yummly. The neglect showed in the reviews of the product online.
Merea didn’t want to end up as a cautionary tale for buyers of connected gadgets who saw their expensive purchases become useless if the company sold or failed. So he kept searching for a buyer for the hardware assets.
He found one almost a year later in Michael Wallace, the CEO of Perfect Co. Perfect Co. makes connected scales that work with apps that measure out cocktails, baked goods and smoothies or blended products. Perfect Co. has purchased the hardware IP from The Orange Chef and will update the app powering the Prep Pads that are out in the market. He has pledged to keep it running for the next two to three years.
Wallace bought the Prep Pad assets for the intellectual property, in particular a patent that lets an app connected with a scale interactively record a recipe as the chef is measuring the ingredients. As part of the deal to get the IP he agreed to update the Prep Pad app so it will work with the latest version of iOS. “Santiago felt pretty strongly that we had to keep supporting the users,” said Wallace.
However, he has no idea what that support could cost Perfect Co. He doesn’t know how many Prep Pads were sold and until the app is updated and people use it, he doesn’t know how many people will need support. That, in turn, will dictate things like server and developer costs.
In many ways, the stories of these two connected scale companies are a study in opposites. The Orange Chef was based in San Francisco, had backing from Google and a vision to digitize food tracking and recipes with a tech brand centered around a connected scale.
On the other hand, the Perfect Co. was built in Vancouver, Washington with the funds from a previous enterprise that Wallace had started that had licensed ideas for toys. Perfect Co.’s first sale capitalized on the relationships Wallace had built selling tech toys. It was an order for 50,000 of Perfect Co.’s cocktail creation scales to Brookstone.
It seems unlikely that the Prep Pad sold 50,000 units, ever.
Wallace said that after the Perfect cocktail scale launched in 2013 it began selling well, so they incorporated the business as Perfect Co. in 2014 so it could raise a Series A round of $6 million. Now, as the company prepares to raise its Series B round, it has sold hundreds of thousands of scales designed to work with one of its three apps.
The next phase is taking a bigger step into the health and wellness market with calorie counting (something it already does with its Blend App and a partnership with Vitamix) and using the IP it just purchased. If you haven’t seen one of the Perfect Co.’s $50 to $100 scales yet, it’s highly likely you will in the not-too-distant future.