Drop is tapping into the potential of the digital kitchen with its weighing scale and recipe app, writes Trish Dromey.
DUBLIN start-up Drop is going global with new smart technology which the company says has been designed to turn anyone into a kitchen god or goddess.
The company is first to market with a kitchen scale which connects to an interactive iPad recipe app in order to give step-by-step cooking instructions.
Launched in Apple stores in the US, Canada and the UK last November and in Apple stores in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, Drop has now begun selling in Harrods of London and in 69 Lakeland stores across the UK.
Company chief executive and co-founder Ben Harris says the company has generated over $1m (€923,405) in sales since the launch. Long term he’s looking at China, Japan and Taiwan while also making plans to launch a whole range of smart connected kitchen products.
“This is a billion dollar industry — the smart kitchen appliances market in the US is worth $17bn. The smart kitchen is coming and we want to be the ones who provide the interactive cookbook for it,” says Mr Harris, a finalist in this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Drop was set up in 2012 by Mr Harris, Jonny McCauley, Jack Phelan and Tim Redfern — all designers and developers who had previously worked on developing connected products. Noticing that there was scope for new technology in the kitchen, they began work an interactive recipe platform and a connected kitchen scale.
A feasibility grant from Enterprise Ireland helped Drop get started and Competitive Start Funding allowed it to build its first prototype. A meeting with PCH founder Liam Casey in 2013, secured the company a place on Highway1, a four-month accelerator programme in San Francisco.
In November 2013, Drop hired its first developer and by February last year was ready to show the app at Launch Festival in San Francisco.
Identified by Enterprise Ireland as a ‘high potential start up’ in 2014’, the company began pre-selling the kitchen scale last summer in order to generate revenue. In July it raised $2m in seed funding from investors which included Frontline ventures, Innovation Works as well as PCH, Vegas Tech Fund and WI Harper Group.
The technology was developed by a team of designers and developers which has now swelled to 12. The majority of these are based at Thomas Street in Dublin but Drop also has some staff at a San Francisco office which opened at the end of last year. The kitchen scale is being manufactured for Drop by PCH in China.
The scale, which retails at $99.95, connects to the interactive app which can be downloaded free from the Apple Store. The company plans to develop an android version at a later stage.
Mr Harris says the US has very quickly become its largest market, accounting for over 50% of sales.
R&D is ongoing at the company where developers are working on an app for iPhones and developing new connected products.
“The Drop-connected kitchen scale is the first in a series of kitchen products which will be connected to the interactive recipe platform,’’ says Mr Harris, adding that a second connected product is due for release next year.
In the long term, the company wants to integrate Drop technology into kitchen appliances with the aim of turning the Drop interactive cookbook into “an operating system for the smart kitchen of the future”.
Given the huge leaps technology has made in recent years, Mr Harris says he expects the smart kitchen to have become an everyday reality within five years.
This year Drop plans to recruit an additional five staff and to continue to focus on the US and the UK markets. Next year it plans to raise further funding and to expand its horizons.
Drop factfile: Location: Thomas Street, Dublin CEO: Ben Harris Staff: 12 Products: Interactive recipe app and connected kitchen scale Exports: 100% Website: getdrop.com
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