In conversation with entrepreneurs behind Spicewok, Binal Ghelani and Ashishwang GodhaSpicewok is a culinary website that focuses on all aspects of food and dining in Pune. They do reviews of new eateries, food trails, recipes from chefs and readers, listings of all F&B venues in the city, global food news and trends, and a guide to the food festivals and promotions across Pune. They also have two unique features - expert panel and menu planner. The expert panel consists of the city's leading chefs who answer our user's questions on their cuisine of expertise. And the menu planner is a tool whereby a user can pick the ingredients he has in his/her kitchen and the website generates recipes using those ingredients.
Talking about its uniqueness, Binal Ghelani, Co-Director, Spicewok, says, “It is the only website in Indiathat has an authoritative editorial leaning, is comprehensive in its scope and inclusive in its reach. We go much beyond listings, menus and calendar of events, which are the key focal points of other food websites.” Both the partners, Binal and Ashishwang have a decade of experience working as journalists and communications professionals with big names like the Times of India, Savvy Cookbook, Femina and the Westin, Pune. “A big chunk of our experience has been in food writing. So we bring to the site an in-depth knowledge of the vast world of food, immense experience with food writing, reviewing and a keen insight into the workings of the media.”, says Binal.
Their revenue model is based around advertising and strategic tie-ups. Interestingly, they ran a similar website in Mumbai about 7 years ago but at that point they had not incorporated a revenue model since they both had full time jobs and hence had to shut it down. “We're back again and this time it’s here to stay!”, quips Ashishwang.
They make innovative use of social media and run regular contests to attract audiences. Since both the directors are well networked in the culinary world and therefore manage to generate a lot of word of mouth publicity as well.
What is also unique to Spicewok is that their sales and editorial teams are separate. “We don't sell reviews or any other kind of editorial space for ads or any financial benefit -- something that is unfortunately a widely used practice in the media. So the content that our users get is absolutely undiluted.”, says Binal.
“Our forte is bridging the gap between the diner and the restaurant, between the user and the chef. We have a platform for interaction whereby users can ask questions to chefs and comment on their dining experience. And while Spicewok is primarily a Pune-centric website, most of our sections (except listings, guide and reviews) are broad in their scope and can be used by foodies across the world.”, adds Ashishwang. They aim to cater to every possible question that a foodie might have.Before launching the venture, the duo studied national and international food websites, magazines and blogs to see what did well, what was missing and what could be improved upon. They also spoke to several culinary professionals to understand the pulse of the Pune diner. Their study also included primary research by way of questionnaire interviews among potential users to see what they were looking for in a food portal.
“Any start-up has its share of challenges and we had ours. The biggest one is that people make timeline commitments that are rarely adhered to. That is not how we function so we find it to be a constant irritant.”, signs off Binal.
- Swati Maheshwari | YourStory.in | Pune