Our startup of the week is Authenticook! Authenticook is an India based online platform that connects people over unique and authentic food experiences conducted at the homes of locals. Authenticook provides an avenue to locals and travelers to experience the amazing cultural diversity that exists amongst us through unique and authentic food experiences. This is especially relevant when we think of India as a country of 29 states, more than 1600 regional dialects and 1.4 billion people.
Founded in 2015, Authenticook has three co-founders: Ameya Deshpande as the CEO looking at strategy, business development and finance, Aneesh Dhairyawan as the COO looking at overall operations and host relations, and Priyanka Deshpande as the CMO looking at marketing and partnerships.
Today, we had a chat with Ameya, the CEO of Authenticook to discover more about their inspiring story!
Q: So Ameya, how did you come up with the idea? What is the story behind?
It all started on our trip to Ladakh in 2014, where Aneesh, Priyanka and myself were traveling with a couple of friends. Whilst in Leh, we were walking through the main market and realised that there was easy access to restaurants serving westernised cuisines (pastas, pizzas and burgers) and there was limited chance of trying out the local food of the region. This got us thinking. There is so much of diversity that India has to offer but limited avenues to experience the same. Social dining is the oldest form of social interaction and we thought it’s the right time to re-introduce the same to the current generation. This even trickles down to our daily lives in cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi etc., where you have people from various parts of India and the world coming and living together. The food that we get at restaurants, however is limited to mostly commercially prepared, international cuisines with very little regional and authentic food available. We understand that not all local cuisines may be commercially viable to set up restaurants around, but they still get made at the homes of people, so what better way than to open up the homes for social dining experiences.
We started Authenticook in 2015 as a pilot, understanding the modalities of business through social media channels, we finally launched our website in 2016.
Q: What makes you unique?
We have created a niche for ourselves, tapping into a market that is not being looked at by our competitors. Global social dining platforms are targeted at travelers, whereas we are building a trusted community of locals, who are inquisitive to learn more about their own culinary heritage, which is, unfortunately, getting lost with time. Along the way, we are creating an avenue for women to start their own micro-entrepreneurial journey in food and have an alternate source of income.
Our hosts are mainly women homemakers who are ambassadors of their regional cuisines. Authenticook is an avenue for them to showcase their food heritage and at the same time set up their own micro-entrepreneurial ventures through food which creates income generation opportunities for them.
Having said that, our business also caters to travelers who are looking to experience the real India through food. Large cities in India (like Mumbai) have people from all over the country coming and living together. With all the cultural diversity that exists in India, people are still looking for avenues to experience this diversity and we believe the best way to do that is through the medium of food and yet all that one is forced to eat in restaurants in India is commercially prepared standardized cuisines and Indianised versions of international cuisines. And this despite India having more than 500 regional cuisines.
Q: How is your revenue model like?
Authenticook works on a simple commission-based model currently. We provide a marketplace platform for hosts and diners to come together at the click of just a few buttons. Our host side is completely verified and they get to list their experiences on our platform. Our diners use us as a discovery and booking platform for unique and authentic food experiences.
Q: How many users do you have now? And what kind of reactions/ feedbacks are you getting?
We have on-boarded 300 hosts on the platform, all of whom have been verified on a number of parameters by our team. We have a registered diner based on 15,000 users who actively participate in our home-dining and restaurant pop-up experiences. We also have a good repeat diner base and are rated no.1 on TripAdvisor in the food and drinks activities category in Mumbai.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about your team?
We are a lean team of 6 based out of Mumbai, the 3 co-founders and 3 of our teammates – Reshma looks at managing host relations, Klint looks at marketing and Kajol is our in-house content writer. We also have 5 active community managers in different locations helping us develop local markets.
Q: What were the milestones you have achieved so far and what’s next for Authenticook?
We are present in 35 cities in India and have about 55 different cuisines listed on the platform, but we feel we have only scratched the surface. We have sold more than 6000 seats on the back of limited paid marketing. We have also won a grant from Booking.com through their Booking Booster Program in 2017 and were one of the top 2 startups to get their complete funding ask! Another highlight has been our selection in Startupbootcamp Foodtech in Rome, where Authenticook was selected from over 700 applications worldwide, and are the only Indian company to be apart of the program and are super excited about the upcoming Demo Day at Station F in Paris on Nov 29th 2018, where we will be pitching in front of hundreds of industry experts and investors!!
Want to meet Authenticook? Come to our Demo Day! Request your ticket fast before we run out of slots!