The food industry may seem like the last bastion of brick-and-mortar companies, relying solely on human efforts. Think again. A new crop of entrepreneurs are taking our love of food out of the kitchen and into the digital realm. Several members of 1M/1M, our global virtual startup incubator, have created specialty brands that help consumers eat better and cook more efficiently.
Instagram meets Pinterest, but with a focus on preparing food, is the best way to explain Platter. Home cooks can upload a photo of a dish they made to Platter and tag ingredients for other home cooks to search for their dishes. Users can also follow people whose food they find interesting, and post comments and “likes” on pictures. Of course, cooks can cross-share photos on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Founder Will Hodson wanted to drill down into people’s food habits via a micro social network, similar to a food-focused Twitter. He and four other Cambridge (UK) graduates developed the site and smartphone app while working their day jobs, with the focus only food-loving techies could provide. Although there are other food photo networks for restaurant dishes, Hodson says that Platter is the only app dedicated to home cooking.
Launched in 2007, iFood.tv is a popular site for foodies seeking recipe-related video content. With more than 40,000 cooking videos and 200,000 text recipes, all the videos are hosted, managed, and streamed through a content management platform that delivers a blend of multimedia, interactive, and social features. Content is created by an in-house team of editors and sourced from professional chefs, video producers, authors, and media companies.
Co-founder Vikrant Mathur said the idea was conceived when he and the other founders were learning how to cook. All they could find were text-based recipes from Allrecipes.com and Epicurious—there were no videos online to show them how to actually make the dish. They wanted to create something like an online version of the Food Network so that cooks could access information from the comfort of their homes when it was convenient for them. Although YouTube is a competitor, Mathur says its content is not tailored to home cooking, nor does it provide a community experience like iFood.tv.
The company has been profitable for the past three years. It has had an average of 3 million monthly unique visitors and close to 125,000 daily video streams. There is a growing display ad network (currently more than 70 sites) using ifood.tv for their monetization needs. In 2012, iFood.tv is well beyond $1 million in revenue.
IndiaCakes is an online cake delivery shop that offers high-quality birthday and holiday cakes as well as cakes for any occasion to 250 cities in India. Founder Manit Nagri has brought together hundreds of cake shops all over India and created a consolidated user experience whereby consumers from anywhere in the world can order cakes from them, to be delivered to their friends and family in India. The company is going gangbusters, and is well past the elusive $1 million revenue mark in 2012.
The LiveWell Revolution
Nwenna Kai battled an illness for over a decade and eventually healed herself with a 100 percent raw vegan diet. She founded Taste of the Goddess Cafe in Los Angeles and pioneered the raw foods movement in California, garnering a large celebrity following. The LiveWell Revolution follows this wellness trend as a multimedia company providing holistic solutions for living a healthier life. It provides both online and offline classes, workshops, speaking engagements, books, products, and services.
One of the best selling products from the LiveWell! Movement brand is The 7-Day Raw Foods Cleanse, an online course that teaches people how to properly detox the mind, body, and spirit.
Not a 1M/1M company, but The Fresh Diet was conceived in 2005 from the idea of bringing kosher meals to homes in Florida. Brooklyn-born Zalmi Duchman suggested this idea to a chef friend when a Google search brought up no results for home meal delivery in the whole state. To get the word out, he used Google AdWords and a $150 ad in the Miami Herald, and the business hit the ground running. Duchman never needed any investment dollars because he got clients right away who pre-paid for meals by the month, giving him enough money to buy food and put gas in his car.
Their meals are no longer kosher but are focused on fresh foods and nutritious menus. Consumers can choose from a variety of menus that provide three meals and two snacks a day, with access to dieticians and online meal planners. By checking off dietary restrictions and disliked foods, The Fresh Diet chefs specifically craft meals to suit the member’s tastes and specific dieting needs.
The first year, Duchman made $300,000. By the end of their second year, FreshDiet did $1.2 million in revenue, making food for 100 to 120 people a day. They then focused on expanding the business to New York City and Los Angeles. Today, The Fresh Diet delivers to all 50 states.
If you love food and cooking, there are many entrepreneurial opportunities to zero in on. Please get going, and keep us posted!
[A version of this article was first published on Xconomy.]
This segment is a part in the series : Trend Spotting