Ikea for food: Halfteaspoon aims to provide on-demand DIY cooking

By Harshith Mallya|24th Nov 2014
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yourstory_Halfteaspoon

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

-George Bernard Shaw

Cooking and eating delicious food are something everyone loves and cherishes. But with our fast paced lives and busy work schedules, people are not able to find time to shop for groceries, chop veggies or meat, and cook. What Ikea did for furniture, Halfteaspoon, a Bangalore based startup, aims to do for cooking.

Halfteaspoon: on-demand DIY cooking

Founded by two IIT Kharagpur graduates Jani Pasha and Afsar Ahmad, the startup provides customers with hand-picked recipes that have been tried and tested by them, and the exact amount of ingredients required to cook the dish. Users need to place an order a day in advance and will receive it at their doorstep the next day.

Based on market research and feedback, the startup observed that the following were some of the problems people faced.

  1. Going out and shopping for exactly the right amount of ingredients is not an easy task. Most people who are not experienced either buy too much or too little and end up wasting food or do not have enough to prepare their desired meal.
  2. For some people cooking is rocket science. Even though one can find recipes online, most are too complicated, and achieving the desired results is not easy.

Revenue model

They charge a little premium over the market price of the ingredients that they supply for their recipes, but if a user is only planning to cook a certain dish occasionally then it is actually cheaper for him or her to use the service, claims the startup. For example, to cook an Italian dish, one needn’t buy a bottle of olive oil, because the dish requires only two tablespoons of it.

They are also planning on having subscription models where they supply three to five meals each week based on the user's choice of day and date.

Marketing strategies

They are delivering in three areas of Bangalore. Apart from the social media marketing, the main mode of marketing is through pamphlets, internal mailing systems of apartment complexes, and banners. A significant number of customers have been acquired through word-of-mouth and referral programs. Once in a while they organize special delivery-drives to areas which are outside their delivery scope, for which they use social media and word-of-mouth as the sole marketing medium. Such drives generate a lot of traffic and order conversions for them, they claim.

Distribution platform: from logistics to distribution.

The team take orders one-day in advance for four delivery slots in a day. This helps them manage a lot of logistical problems. Ingredients which have high shelf life like spices are purchased and stored in bulk. The frozen items and vegetable are procured early morning based on the requirement for the day. This helps them maintain freshness and avoid wastage.

The delivery is managed in-house. However, they are in conversations with a few third party distributors to outsource it in some areas as they expand.

Competitors

In the USA, BlueApron does something similar but as India is a completely different market, it is unlikely that they will enter this region.


Related read: Cucumbertown launches RecipeWriter, moves towards becoming a tumblr for cooks


Future plans

The startup wishes to include a choice of organic foods and suggested recipes based on the diet plans of the consumer in the future.

Halfteaspoon offered YourStory two of dishes, ‘Farfalle Pasta’ and ‘Canton Style Noodles’, to try out. Here is a sneak peek of the experience.

1. Boxes

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Boxes

 

2. UnBoxing (Left : Farfalle Pasta and Right: Canton Style Noodles )

 

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3. Ingredients, laid out :


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Farfalle Pasta: The combination of olive oil, fresh cream and cheese brought out the taste of the pasta with broccoli, garlic and pepper, adding to the taste.

Canton Style Noodles: This was slightly harder to cook and as we were amateurs, we were unable to cook the noodles to the desired ‘golden’ colour, but otherwise the dish turned out well.

What can be improved:

While the recipe list provided step-by-step instructions, a few words were alien to us and we needed to double check online. So a suggestion would be to simplify it further for amateur cooks.

What we liked

The ingredients were fresh and good quality. The recipe list was easy to follow and the time and difficulty level for the dish stated on their website were accurate.

The overall experience of DIY cooking was fun and we would consider trying it out again.

Website: Halfteaspoon

Here is a gift for YourStory readers. The recipe for ‘Canton Style Noodles’:


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