Castiron offers $6 million funding round to support ‘food artisans’ – TechCrunch

The pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, but the restaurant industry has been affected particularly hard. More … than 90,000 restaurants and bars closed, leaving workers unemployed in an already precarious industry. And those who kept their jobs faced the stressful demands of working in contact with customers during a pandemic.

In response to the changing landscape of the industry, restaurant veterans are starting their own businesses, whether delivering takeout in their neighborhood or shipping boxes of kombucha across the country. “People tell them they make great cakes, or their sourdough is better than everyone else’s, or their hot sauce is amazing,” the founder and CEO of Castiron explained. Marc Josephson. “And they dream of selling and building a business, but they end up spending 75% of their time doing things other than what they’re good at. He talks about everything that isn’t cooking: creating a website, tracking finances and other administrative tasks.

So he created Melting, an e-commerce solution for independent chefs. Today Castiron announced $6 million in seed funding from Bowery Capital, Foundry Group and High Alpha. A tech industry veteran, Josephson is a three-time CEO — he previously ran outside.in, which sold to AOL, then ran Bit.ly for seven years — but Castiron is the first company he founded.

Launched in October, Castiron provides its users (which it calls “food artisans”) with customizable e-commerce websites, which include dynamic inventory management, order processing tools, a newsletter and marketing tools, etc. Castiron doesn’t start making money until the food artisan makes money. Then the platform takes 10%, plus a standard payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30.

Picture credits: Melting

“In deciding to start this company, it was important to me after doing five, six or seven different startups that with this one, we really aligned with our customers. So I only want to be successful if our customers are successful,” he told TechCrunch. “Our customers are risk averse, so it’s important that we have a risk-free product that customers can try.”

Currently, Castiron only operates in the United States, where laws relating to home food businesses (artisanal food laws) vary from state to state. But given the rise in the unemployment rate since the start of the pandemic, many states have made easier to legally run independent food businesses. Currently, Josephson estimates that about 40% of Castiron users run local delivery businesses, 40% sell pick-up, and 20% ship their goods. He said “several hundred” users have settled on Castiron, but the seed round will help fund a hiring drive to scale the business.

“This surge of entrepreneurs building small businesses is a huge part of our economy going forward,” Josephson noted. “I’ve been in media, digital media, software marketing, and there’s nothing like it. And like, honestly, I have boxes of chocolate chip cookies, roasted coffee beans, biscotti, sourdough, and hot sauce at my house. It’s like, what’s wrong with that? What could be better?”

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