Not sure what to cook with what’s left in the fridge? There’s AI for that

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Alumni from Canva, Milkrun and Amazon are moving into the kitchen, launching an online platform that uses artificial intelligence to take the pain out of cooking.

Clove is the brainchild of Anna Guerrero and Sam Killin, who met at unicorn design start-up Canva, where they served as the company’s head of content and discovery, and marketplace engineering lead respectively.

Clove co-founders Sam Killin and Anna Guerrero.

The start-up is the latest AI firm to win local venture capital backing, landing $4.15 million in funding from Blackbird Ventures, Shakti Capital and executives from Canva and Google Maps. Its platform uses AI to decide how to use the remaining ingredients in a user’s fridge, or how to create a week-long meal plan around dietary requirements.

Guerrero said she came up with the concept after leaving Canva to spend time in Italy, which included attending culinary school and working as a pasta chef in a Michelin restaurant. She’s since hired engineers and designers from Milkrun and Amazon Groceries in a bid to ultimately facilitate one billion recipes cooked globally.

“Cooking is one of the truly universal needs,” Guerrero said. “Everyone from all walks of life cooks, we all need to eat, but there are so many different pain points in the process.

“You first have to decide what to cook, you need to know what to search for when you’re looking for a recipe, and often a lot of the information in the recipe is from the US, so you need to convert it,” she said.

Canva, led by co-founder and chief executive Melanie Perkins, has been one of the biggest successes for Australia’s venture capital sector.Credit: Louie Douvis

“We wanted to make it so much easier for people to cook: imagine if all the best recipes were in one place, and you could build meal plans that were personalised to you and evolve over time.

“Our goal is to get more people into the kitchen and make this something everyone can use.”

Clove is offering a two-sided marketplace: an experience for home cooks who gain access to personalised recipes and AI-based cooking workflows, and a platform for creators to publish their own recipes. Clove will be free for discovering recipes, with options to purchase cooking products and upgrade for premium recipes and AI-powered cooking tools.

Recipe creators will have the ability to publish simple, high-quality video and text recipes with global reach, and Clove’s platform will prioritise recipe engagement based on cooking-related quality signals, according to Guerrero.

“Our goal is to get more people into the kitchen and make this something everyone can use.”

“We’re building out both sides of the platform and our funding is going to help us hire more people to help accelerate that pace. We’re looking to launch it next year.”

The executive said that one thing she learned across her eight years at Canva was that creating a user-centric product that people love makes for a winning strategy.

“It was a hugely rewarding experience,” she said of her time at the Sydney-based design software giant. “Mel [Melanie Perkins], Cliff [Obrecht] and Cam [Cameron Adams] are great founders and they’ve built a highly successful culture that’s evolved over time.”

Canva backer Blackbird Ventures led Clove’s $4.15 million funding round. The rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT over the past 12 months has fuelled an AI arms race among local investors, with Leonardo.Ai last week raising $47 million from investors including Blackbird.

A report from the National AI Centre has found Australia is home to 544 AI companies, a number that has grown substantially over the past five years.

Clove is also the latest start-up with at least one female founder to receive funding from Blackbird. The venture firm has a stated goal that 40 per cent of companies that pitch to its investment committee have at least one woman or non-binary founder, and said that 27.5 per cent of companies had matched that description from June 2022 to now.

“Anna and Sam bring a unique combination of well-honed creative thinking, skill and ambition to Clove,” Blackbird partner Niki Scevak said in a statement.

“They both have a deep understanding of what it takes to build a generational company with community at the heart, and we are proud and excited to back them.”

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