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December 13, 2023

Culinary Innovation: An Interview with Homecooks CEO Joshua Magidson

Revolutionizing the UK's Food Industry: HomeCooks CEO on Tech, Quality, and New Service Models

It's no longer enough to provide great food to keep customers coming back for more; customers want great food when, what, and how they want. This means new service models and tech must cater to this growing demand. As new models centered on convenience and health are experimented with, firms must streamline the process for ordering and add value for customers.

This is where the connection between independent chefs, small food businesses, and discerning customers comes in. HomeCooks is an innovative platform redefining how we think about and engage with the food industry in the United Kingdom. This company is busy creating a unique ecosystem where independent chefs and small-scale food entrepreneurs can thrive by connecting them directly with a wide customer base. In this interview, we speak to HomeCooks CEO Josh Magidson, who shares how his platform offers diverse, quality, and locally sourced food for customers and a platform for aspiring chefs and business people.

Neil: Can you give us an overview of what HomeCooks is and what inspired its creation?

Joshua: HomeCooks is uniquely designed to connect independent chefs and small food businesses with customers across the UK. Our platform empowers these chefs to sell their homemade dishes nationwide, offering a diverse range of high-quality, pre-prepared meals. The inspiration for HomeCooks stemmed from a desire to address the challenges facing the hospitality industry, particularly the limitations and inefficiencies of traditional food delivery models. We recognized the need for a system that would support small food businesses, allowing them to thrive without the burdens of logistics and marketing, while providing consumers with a wider variety of affordable, home-cooked meals. This vision of revolutionizing the food industry and creating a sustainable, profitable platform for independent chefs was the driving force behind HomeCooks.

Neil: In an increasingly crowded market, what sets HomeCooks apart from other food marketplaces in the UK?

Joshua: HomeCooks distinguishes itself in a crowded market by connecting independent chefs with users and facilitating the entirety of our partner chefs’ operations. This includes collecting, freezing, storing, and dispatching their meals, which uniquely positions us more as a full-service partner rather than just a marketplace. We offer over 200 home-cooked meals that are more exciting and healthier than traditional ready-made meals and cost less than average meals from mainstream delivery companies. Furthermore, our model supports small food businesses in a way that traditional platforms don't by significantly reducing their operational burdens and allowing them to focus on what they do best – cooking.

Neil: Could you share how your past experiences with Eatstudent and Zing Zing have influenced the founding and vision of HomeCooks.

Joshua: My past experiences with Eatstudent and Zing Zing have been instrumental in shaping the vision and foundation of HomeCooks. Eatstudent, an early food delivery marketplace for students, provided me with valuable insights into the dynamics of the food delivery market and the importance of targeting specific customer segments. Later, at Zing Zing, which became the largest Chinese takeout chain in the UK, I gained firsthand experience of the challenges in scaling a food business, particularly in dealing with food delivery logistics. These experiences highlighted the need for a more sustainable and equitable model in the food delivery industry, leading to the creation of HomeCooks. Our model is designed to support independent chefs by reducing overheads and operational complexities, a direct response to the challenges I observed in my previous ventures.

Neil: Can you describe the technology behind your platform? How does it facilitate the connection between home chefs and customers, and what steps are taken to ensure a seamless user experience?

Joshua: The technology behind HomeCooks is centred around ease of use and efficiency. Chefs can easily upload their menus, manage orders, and track their sales. On the customer side, the platform offers a user-friendly interface for browsing meals, placing orders, and tracking deliveries. We ensure a seamless user experience through a robust back-end system that handles the logistics of meal collection, freezing, storage, and distribution.

Neil: HomeCooks began as a community movement on Facebook during the lockdown. How did this unique start shape the business model and ethos of HomeCooks?

Joshua: The community-driven origin of HomeCooks during the lockdown has profoundly shaped our business model and ethos. Starting as a grassroots movement on Facebook, where chefs posted their menus and users ordered in comments, instilled a deep sense of community and collaboration in our DNA. This early experience highlighted the importance of direct interaction between chefs and customers and the value of building a platform that not only serves as a marketplace but also fosters a sense of connection. It reinforced our commitment to supporting local chefs and providing a platform for them to thrive, especially during challenging times. This community-first approach continues to be a core value of HomeCooks, guiding our decisions and strategies.

Neil: With the raising of a $3.1m seed round, what immediate impacts do you foresee this having on HomeCooks’ operations and growth?

Joshua: The $3.1m seed funding marks a significant milestone for HomeCooks, poised to have an immediate and transformative impact on our operations and growth. Firstly, it will enable us to scale our reach across the UK, broadening our customer base and attracting more independent chefs to our platform. This influx of capital will also facilitate enhancements in our technology, allowing for improved customer and chef experiences, and more efficient logistics management. Additionally, the funding will support our marketing efforts, helping to increase brand awareness and attract a larger audience. Ultimately, this investment is not just about expansion; it's about strengthening the foundation of HomeCooks to ensure long-term sustainability and success.

Neil: You mentioned several challenges in the traditional food delivery industry, such as poor working conditions and thin margins. How does HomeCooks address or mitigate these issues?

Joshua: HomeCooks addresses the challenges of the traditional food delivery industry, such as poor working conditions and thin margins, by fundamentally altering the business model. Our platform reduces the operational burden on chefs, allowing them to focus solely on cooking without worrying about logistics like delivery and marketing. By handling the collection, freezing, storage, and dispatch of meals, we eliminate significant overheads for our chefs, enabling them to operate more profitably. Moreover, our model promotes better working conditions by freeing chefs from the constraints of

Neil: How does your platform encourage sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients used in meals?

Joshua: We are deeply committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients. Our platform encourages and facilitates these practices in several ways. Firstly, we actively partner with chefs who prioritize sourcing ingredients locally and sustainably. Furthermore, we offer guidance and resources to our chefs on sustainable practices, helping them make informed decisions about their ingredient suppliers. Another key aspect is our operational model, which involves collecting and freezing meals. This approach significantly reduces food waste, a major issue in the food industry.

Neil: Looking ahead, what are the long-term goals for HomeCooks?

Joshua: Our primary aim is to become the leading online marketplace for independent food creators in the UK and potentially beyond. This involves expanding our reach to cover more geographical areas, increasing the number of chefs and meal options on our platform, and continuously enhancing the customer experience. We envision enabling thousands of food creators to thrive on our platform, offering an ever-growing selection of unique, high-quality meals to our customers. Ultimately, our vision for HomeCooks is to revolutionize the way people think about and access home-cooked meals, making it a mainstream choice for dining at home. We want to change the way people eat forever, creating a sustainable, community-driven ecosystem that benefits everyone involved - from the chefs who prepare the meals to the customers who enjoy them.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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