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The next Bobby Flay is already out there – he just hasn’t been discovered yet. Santa Monica-Calif. based food video startup Tastemade wants to change that with a new iPhone app that’s a bit like a mixture of Vine, Yelp and mobile TV, and it just got a big vote of confidence in the form of a $10 million Series B from Raine Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.
Tastemade’s recently-launched app invites food bloggers to record rave reviews about their favorite restaurants, and the company tried to take a lot of the pain out of recording these roughly one-minute long clips by sticking to a basic formula, combined with some clever tech:
Users are encouraged to record their videos on the spot, and Tastemade’s app queries the Foursquare database to figure out what kind of restaurant they’re in. Talking Sushi? Tastemade will automatically select a vaguely Asian soundtrack and a fancy title card. Raving about a pub? Be prepared for something more hearty. Users are then encouraged to record some basic building blocks – including an intro, some B-roll footage and their take on the place – and Tastemade combines all of it to a review video that looks surprisingly professional.
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Does that sound a bit formulaic? That’s no accident. The folks behind Tastemade were part of the founding team behind Demand Media, which perfected by-the-book online content production. With their new company, they’re now set to take on Food Network online.
As a first step, the company launched its own YouTube channel, where it tries to reinvent cooking and food shows for an online audience. Part of that was to partner with YouTube talent, as opposed to traditional TV chefs, Tastemade co-founder Joe Perez told me in an interview this week. “They are not coming from television, trying to figure YouTube out,” he said. But just as important was to figure out new ways to tell stories about food in shorter videos and with a different dramaturgy. Said Perez: “We had to think of everything differently than traditional media.”
Tastemade also teamed up with other YouTube food channels, and its multi-channel network now generates 12 million uniques a month. But the company quickly realized that for most people, the bar to shoot and publish was still too high on YouTube. That’s why it developed the app, which also works as a kind of video-based Yelp by serving up review videos for restaurants nearby.
Tastemade soft-launched the app a few weeks ago, and has already seen a bunch of food bloggers use it to quickly produce videos for their own sites. Co-founder Larry Fitzgibbon told me that Tastemade is actively looking to discover and recruit some of the best talent for its own YouTube shows.
And the company is also taking other cues from its community. Some people have already started to repurpose the app to make videos about their own recipes – something that the company may address with future releases, as it widens its focus into areas like food and health or food and travel. Speaking about the restaurant review focus of the app, Fitzgibbon said: “Think of this as the first show.”