As I’ve taken to online grocery shopping over the pandemic, I’ve always wondered why supermarkets didn’t offer simple ‘recipe’ features that might have automatically collected items for a homemade meal. It seemed a chance missed. But it’s missed no more. Lollipop AI, the new British online grocery marketplace, is launching its public beta today to try to do that, and it’s been created by a serial UK entrepreneur who was there at the beginning of successful UK startups Osper, Monzo, and Curve.
Founder and CEO Tom Foster-Carter has envisaged a platform allowing people to create meal plans from recipes, assembling the ingredients automatically into their shopping baskets, and suggesting remaining household essentials. He says the Lollipop could well help with health goals, improve culinary skills and minimize garbage. Built as a marketplace, it’ll be partnering with Sainsbury’s and BBC Good Food with more partners, and fulfillment is going to be completed by retail partners. The business model is going to be taking a little commission from retail partners, allowing selected advertising, e.g. from CPG brand owners.
The site is going to be liberal to use, while a premium tier is planned. the primary 10K beta testers to check in to the waitlist are going to be offered access to premium features “for life,” says the startup, which can offer prices at an equivalent rate as normal supermarkets. Foster-Carter, who had the thought after having a baby and realizing he was spending hours trying to use a traditional supermarket, says the approach will save several hours every week for the typical household. (We will briefly note the very fact that a person had to make a site like this after doing the weekly shop…). Lollipop claims 80% of households spend over an hour every week meal-planning and online grocery shopping.
The founding team includes former employees of Monzo, Farmdrop, Amazon, Sainsbury’s, and HelloFresh, like cofounders Chris Parsons and Ib Warnerbring. Although Foster-Carter is coy about what proportion he has raised for this approach, he says he has raised a pre-seed round backed by JamJar Investments, Speedinvest, and a “raft of grocery/technology big hitters” including Ian Marsh (former UK GM of HelloFresh) and former leadership and founders of online grocers within the U.K. and abroad plus ‘super angels’ Charles Songhurst and Ed Lando. In particular, the location is probably going to appeal to people looking to reduce, as meal planning would be simpler and should even have an impression on recipe-box startups.
Lollipop isn’t alone in its ambitions. Jupiter. co within the U.S. bills itself as “groceries on autopilot”; Jow is recipe-led shopping, as is Side Chef; while Booklist may be a meal-planner + cooking support, also within the U.S. Foster-Carter told me: “It’s a marketplace so we could partner with traditional supermarkets (Sainbury’s, Tescos, Waitrose, etc) + online retailers (Ocado, Amazon), direct to farm / organic (Riverford, Farmdrop), mission-led single component (Oddbox, Milk & More, etc); recipe boxes (Gousto, Hello Fresh, Mindful Chef, etc); and rapid delivery (Gorillas, Getir, Weezy, etc).
“This is simply the start… The plan is to be the only place you attend for all of your food needs – we’ll enable you to order your Deliveroo or restaurant kit (e.g. Dispatch) from us. Groceries are delivered by our partners, then when it’s time to cook you’ll be ready to use a cooking companion app (due out next month). within the future, you’ll be ready to improve your cooking skills through Lollipop.” Few players have nailed the power to shop for tons of things (50-100+) really fast, not even Amazon – this could be Lollipop’s USP if it can crack it.