Food Delivery Services
Startup Costs: $100,000 +
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? Yes
Ask the Expert: Kevin Yu, CEO of SideChef
SideChef enables customers to “add to cart” any recipes’ ingredients in one click to be delivered by select online grocers alongside audio and visual cooking guidance/instruction including a zero-waste feature. We are in the online grocery and recipe discovery industries. SideChef acts as the starting point to deciding “What’s for dinner?” as an all-in-one platform that facilitates online grocery and recipe cooking, similar to how Booking.com facilitates the planning of a vacation.
What is the first step to getting started in the Food Delivery Services Industry?
Know yourself first.
Can you answer the question, “What is your life’s purpose on this planet?” Yes, that’s pretty heavy, but in that existential moment where you are not seeing the traction you had hoped for in your business, or investors and customers aren’t flocking to your offering, you may just ask yourself a similar question at that time. If you already have that answer, you’ll be better equipped to persevere through those tough times by understanding the core motivations that drive you towards your passion or what you want “more” in your life.
For myself, I know I have an inherent desire to “bring out the potential in others” and that SideChef, amongst three other ideas I had explored at the time, all fell into that category of enabling this potential in others at scale. SideChef focuses on allowing anyone to be able to cook.
Next, know what puzzle piece you bring to the final picture which is your vision. Nobody achieves a grand vision alone. Knowing what piece you bring, your strengths, skills, resources, and connections, will tell you what else you need to complete that big picture. Are you an amazing writer that needs an equally talented director or actors to showcase your story? Are you a great salesperson, looking for the next product that can change the world?
From knowing what you bring, then go through the above questions around how much funding or resources you need to get started.
Is the Food Delivery Services Industry growing?
Absolutely. A lot of different factors play into why and how this industry is booming. A couple of examples are the convenience of shopping for recipes and groceries in your home and then getting them delivered. The ease of using an app and technology to help you make these decisions but the one thing that also propelled this industry into the fast lane is how consumers had to shop during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a McKinsey report on the grocery e-commerce sector in North America, this industry saw a growth rate that equals five years of growth happening in five months because of the pandemic. On top of that McKinsey projects that in the next five years grocery e-commerce will have about a 35% penetration in the market which roughly equals $600 billion of that piece of the pie.
Within the grocery e-commerce sector, we see consumers leaning towards choosing to shop online and receive groceries at home via delivery. You would think that during a pandemic the choice happened because it’s safer to shop this way? Yes, that’s one factor, but consumers also enjoyed being able to choose their own products quicker and easier and also shop for a more tailored/personalized experience.
What better way to offer a complete customer experience platform like SideChef to customers who are looking for a personalized, tailored, easy-to-learn how-to-cook-at-home experience that also includes a zero-waste component like our Zero Waste Grocer feature.
What are the current trends in Food Delivery Services and what type of person is a great fit to try this?
Since Covid, not only has the online grocery space exploded in growth, but so has the on-demand delivery space. Both of these trends have fueled capital investment from both existing players such as Amazon, Walmart, UberEats, DoorDash, but also, according to Pitchbook, in 2021 alone over $10 billion came from venture capital into private companies ranging from Instacart to GoPuff, Gorillaz, and beyond.
With the new massive growth in the on-demand retail space around groceries, we see SideChef’s technology solutions for both consumers and businesses, in helping people shop faster from their content inspiration, to planning better and smarter, as the next area to both retain and engage customers in this field to the next level.
Overall, we are seeing an increase in retailers being more customizable for their consumers’ needs and expectations. For example, according to GroceryDive, improving the use of consumer data to satisfy customers is what grocery companies are looking for, and SideChef is helping grocers answer that challenge.
Additionally, other apps/partners have data to show what recipes customers are searching, buying, and cooking, and then can customize additional recipe suggestions using our sustainably focused, Zero Waste Grocer technology. This function uses SideChef-built AI by identifying how much of each recipe ingredient you used to make in the recipe you purchased and recommends additional recipes that use the remaining amount of the unused ingredients.
Ideally, a person who both sees a better way to solve “What’s for Dinner?” and is relentlessly dedicated to solving that problem.
How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?
If you can build a solution that people at scale find useful and want to use, we are fortunate to live in a world where there are many creative ways to be able to monetize that traction in a way that would be beyond years and years of a comparable yearly salary. Focus on solving a problem at scale. Be bold enough to solve that problem not only within the confines of an immediate solution but sometimes in the parameters of a whole new paradigm together.
In general, I will say be prepared to not make a profit between the first 12 to 24 months, but stay focused and as I mentioned if you can build a solution that people at scale find useful and want to use, profit will come.
In achieving our goal of building the fastest and most seamless way to solve “What’s for Dinner,” it becomes inevitable that we aim to disrupt the entire online grocery shopping industry with this new user behavior of shopping by recipes and meal plans. Since we’ve begun this journey, we’ve seen over 200% month-over-month growth rate in this user behavior, and we hope that continues to scale across the industry over the coming years.
What kind of experience/training do you need to have?
Knowing yourself and your motivations is oftentimes more important. Missing skills can be learned or acquired through partnering and hiring.
What do you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Working with big companies usually means the process will be slow. Naively, I had no idea how slow. We’ve since learned not necessarily to change their pace, but instead, we as a startup need to adjust by widening our outreach and partnership funnel in order to maintain rapid traction and growth.
Who are your customers?
Anyone who is interested in cooking. The first timer or the experienced cook. The whole purpose of my idea was to create an accessible cooking app and website for anyone to use. We made SideChef an all-in-one cooking experience platform built with easy-to-follow recipe instructions that work to answer the question “What’s for Dinner?”
I have two words for that, growth strategy. Build yourself a growth strategy/team that is super aggressive focusing on a high conversion KPI, to get new customers, but also a campaign driven by utilizing various digital marketing platforms, like social media, email marketing, to engage in retention, but also begin promoting new features of your app and encourage word of mouth.
In addition to growth, I also look at the power of partnerships. I research to find the right partners to align and work with so when we do offer SideChef as a solution to their customers I already know that their customers will not only use SideChef, but actually love it, and like I mentioned earlier recommend it to their friends via word of mouth.
Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable to get your business off the ground?
Mentors who have either started a business or been a part of growing a business from zero to product traction is key. While nobody’s lessons will work 100% for your business, there’s almost always something to be learned from how they made decisions and dealt with their unique challenges. To supplement mentorship experience, the podcast series, How I Built This, is a great resource!
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