It was 2006, and Vikrant Mathur and Alok Ranjan were learning how to cook. After seeking out advice from every cooking website they knew, they found that text-based sites were lacking in their instructional capabilities. No resources existed that incorporated visual elements or a means to reach out to recipe authors with any questions. The two decided to take matters into their own hands.
Drawing upon the resources they found most helpful, such as the Food Network channel, Vikrant and Alok began the process of adapting them to an on-demand platform. Ifood.tv, launched the next year in 2007, is a multi-platform video channel that focuses on learning to cook visually. In addition to written recipes, the site is comprised of a media library that is always growing. The content is created in-house by ifood.tv’s editorial team, as well as crowd-sourced from authors, professional chefs, video producers and other media companies. Every video is hosted, managed and streamed through the company’s own content management platform.
Ifood.tv works as a cook’s online community for every skill level in the kitchen. But its unique selling point is the number of ways users can interact with and factor themselves into the site. Users exchange recipes and resources in huge numbers, as up to four million monthly unique visitors rate and review existing content in addition to providing their own new materials.
The site initially encountered competition from brand-name media, like the Food Network site and Epicurious. But these sites ignore ifood.tv’s principal aim to engage with their user community. Years later, their closest competitor is YouTube, as the de facto platform for online video content. However, the site remains unique through ease of searching and organizing information, as opposed to YouTube’s generic approach.
Ifood.tv is a fully bootstrapped venture. Vikrant and Alok contributed $100,000 in personal funds, which has gone a long way toward hitting $3 million in revenue in 2012. The site has been profitable for three full years, generating revenue primarily through advertisements.
In 2013, this Menlo Park company sits in a strong position to explore a new business model: e-commerce. But with over four million users, validating a new business model won’t be that difficult. Besides, many proven business models are already floating around in the industry, flash sales being but one of them.
This segment is a part in the series : The Million Dollar Club