"I'd be lying if I said 'No,'" Mr. Spanfeller said in an
interview last week. "It's certainly taken longer than I had
Mr. Spanfeller said the company really couldn't go to
advertisers until it crossed the 1 million-unique level, and then
it took some time to find the right mix of experience for the sales
team. But now, The Daily Meal is bringing in about $100,000 in
revenue a month, and Mr. Spanfeller only expects that figure to
grow in the first quarter.
"I'm pretty jazzed about where we are, but I keep saying I'm not
having fun just yet," Mr. Spanfeller said. "But I can now see when
I'm going to start having some fun."
That would be sometime next year. On Friday, Spanfeller Media
Group announced the creation of eKadia -- the working name for an
"active lifestyle" website that will launch early next year.
Content will focus on adventure sports and outdoor sports, as well
as fitness and everything between. Like The Daily Meal, it will
feature freelance contributors as well as a full-time editorial
staff, this one helmed by John Rasmus, the founding editor of Men's
"This is a big, big opportunity," Mr. Spanfeller said of the new
site. "There's a lot of endemic advertising and lots of consumer
interest." Part of the business promise is that the sales team will
be able to sell some advertisers -- say, auto or travel marketers
-- across other verticals.
Looking ahead, the company launched The Daily Meal Shop earlier
this month and will add to its e-commerce offerings in 2012,
including some type of deals product. There will also be moves in
the new year to enhance content at the Daily Meal, which now has 40
employees. Currently, search comprises about 10% of traffic, but
Mr. Spanfeller thinks that number should grow considerably thanks
to a robust recipe database and an increased focus on optimization.
Search traffic has tripled in the last three months alone.
"We've got a long way to go in search, which is frustrating, but
encouraging because we've already grown this much without a ton of
it," he said.
Mr. Spanfeller also pointed to two other areas with room for
improvement: wine coverage and restaurant listings. Expansion in
the latter should be on display in the next month, when the company
plugs into APIs to outside listings, including one that will pull
in tips from Foursquare users.
All in all, Year 1 may not have gone exactly as planned. But
venture capital provides the buffer to guarantee at least a Year
"The plan for 2012 is to get The Daily Meal profitable, get
scale with eKadia," Mr. Spanfeller said, "and by the end of the
year, have a third vertical at least in Beta."