My wife and I were returning home from a weekend trip from Halcyon Hotsprings with our kids. It was late afternoon and we really didn't want to cook that night when we got home. And we are certainly not fans of fast food by any stretch. We thought, wouldn't it be nice if one of our friends or family members had extra portions of their meals that we could just pick up and take home with us. We could give them an 'IOU' and cook them something another day when we have more time. We would make them my wife's famed butter chicken with naan and share a piece of our culture with them. The same thought process occurred again when we were returning home from Big White one afternoon with the kids after a day of skiing. And again after a long day at work.
I pitched this same premise at Okanagan Startup Weekend a few months ago and in the end came out of it with a startup - ChefShuffle.com - that won the "Empowerific Social Awareness" award. The social impact being two-fold; one for having the ability and potential to create a community built around the healthy meal and culture sharing and the second for getting the most social buzz via Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth. (Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures).
We believe that sharing fresh, home cooked meals with your friends will build a sense of community and allow you to share your culture by telling your story about your background and where you come from through your meals. It will also let you take a few nights off from cooking in the kitchen and give you the flexibility to do the things that you love, like spend more time with your family.
With our busy schedules it is difficult to prepare a fresh meal every night but someone in your friends circle or family may not be as busy that day and would take pride in making a meal that they can share. Perhaps they can make a few extra portions for you so you can return the favour when they are consumed by their schedule.
What is the benefit?
ChefShuffle.com adds the benefit of removing the hassle and stress of cooking a meal every night. The thought is that not everyone wants to cook everyday, but people do have to cook and most people take pride in their cooking. Now, on the days that you do cook, what if you created a few extra portions which you could share with your friends or family for Chef Shuffle coins. These coins can then be redeemed for meals from your friends on other days where you are busy in meetings, sporting activities or kids events, or on days where you just want to share in the culture of a friend by trying out a meal that they made.
We are partnering with local grocery stores, artisans and producers to offer exclusive discounts to our members so they can benefit by saving money on their grocery bill and taking advantage of shopping for local produce.
One of the obstacles of meal planning is the difficulty in getting something set up on a calendar but we plan to create a seamless meal planning system that will make it easy to create a meal plan for a week. We will offer meal suggestions and recipes from a variety of sources which can be customized to your liking
Of course, you will also save time because you wouldn't need to prepare a meal on certain nights and be more relaxed on those busy days but you can still enjoy a fresh home cooked meal with your family.
Here's an Explainer video of the project:
How will we accomplish that?
The ChefShuffle.com web application will consist of modules that will facilitate the process of sharing meals in exchange for Chef Shuffle coins which can then be redeemed on other days for meals made by your friends. We will add value to the weekly meal planning process by offering meal suggestions and recipes through which a shopping list can be generated. This meal plan can then be shared with a select group of friends or family who can then signup for certain meals and use their Chef Shuffle coins for a fresh home-cooked meal that they can enjoy in their home.
A world with ChefShuffle.com
ChefShuffle.com has the potential to create more connected communities through the Chef Shuffle meal exchanges where a person's culture is shared from the love of fresh home cooked meals. It will take a little bit of the stress away from busy lives and give you flexibility in your meal options and save you time and money and offer you the convenience of enjoying fresh meals from other cultures right in the comfort of your home.
Imagine a day where you are running behind at work and you would love to attend your 5 year old's soccer game, wouldn't it be nice if you had an option to not worry about what you needed to get out of the freezer to thaw, what ingredients you are missing for the meal that night and choosing between fast food options so you don't wait too long for a meal after the game. With ChefShuffle.com, you would have your meal plan done and you would know exactly what meal you are having that day and you can simply pick it up from your friend's house on the way back from soccer.
Or envision a day where your meeting is running late and you have another appointment to get to before you go home and it's 6 PM already. Wouldn't it be great if you could pick up a fresh, hot home cooked meal on your way home and not have to eat out or make bad food decisions?
We also believe that by making extra portions of meals that we are already preparing, we can help the less fortunate without too much effort. Every community has people in it who are hungry and they could use anything we give them. Often times we see them on the streets and we aren't prepared with food that we can give them. When we give them money, we worry that it may not go towards food. We can buy them food and give it to them which is much better but we found that often they are not there any more by the time we get back.
We thought, wouldn't it be nice to simplify the act of giving food at the time that we are eating ourselves. And going further, wouldn't it be great if we planned to create extra portions on certain days to give away to the people that are hungry.
So, we are planning on giving people the option of donating a few extra portions to the less fortunate as well. So, if you plan and decide to make a big meal one night i.e. vegetable lasagna you could share a couple of your portions with people that may be in need and feel good about the experience of sharing your meal.
What have we accomplished?
Since the start-up weekend we have done a trial run with a few of our friends of how we envisioned the system to work and got positive results. We used ChefShuffle business cards as coins that we exchanged, we used shared Google Calendars to plan and share our meals and we used a private Facebook group for feedback.
Everyone was making large portions for the sake of sharing and they were excited about their Chef Shuffle. We learned a few things during the trial and we are taking all that into account in our system and we did notice the happiness of the participants when they received and enjoyed a fresh home cooked meal and the story behind it.
We've surveyed our target demographic and have been incorporating their feedback into a prototype of our system. We've built components to mock up a prototype that we can demo to our target customer and got more feedback to make the system even better.
Application Prototype Demo
Here's a demo of how we envision the system to work.
We now have enough validation through our survey results and customer interviews that we can plan to complete the development of our prototype and test the system with a highly targeted group. We will continue to do customer interviews and incorporate their feedback and new features and suggestions into the system based on their preferences. Once we believe we have happy customers we will expand out and create more communities. We will continue to keep the lines of communication open with our users so we are consistently improving the application and adding new features.
Where will the money go?
100% of the received funds will go to pay for the development of the ChefShuffle.com web application along with any administration, management and support that will be required. We plan to join an accelerator program so we can get access to a network of coaches, mentors who will help guide us along the way. Additionally, we will try to leverage government funding options available to us so we can make your money work harder.
We have a few of the modules built and we need to integrate the separate systems together to build a cohesive functioning product. It will require further testing and a few more finishing touches before it's ready. And we will thrive to continually improve the product and add features that are suggested by our customers.
If we reach our stretch goals, we will work on adding more features and releasing separate mobile apps for different platforms that will make it even easier to use the system for meal planning, sharing and meal lookup.
Who we are?
We have a team of passionate individuals with skill sets in business development, design, coding, and marketing and we all love good tasty flavourful food.
Maizal Munif is a Web Applications Developer with many years of experience in the software industry. He is passionate about solving problems and his favourite food is grilled lobster tails.
Philipe Schlesser is an industrial designer and media arts specialist. He is a chef and loves to preserve foods. He planted 105 tomato plants this year, 14 different heirloom and ancient grain varieties.
Jason Peters is a designer and IT person. He works long hours and loves the idea of not having to cook a meal every night.
Lindsay Munif is in business development and a customer evangelist. She has two beautiful children and has an active lifestyle. She plays soccer twice a week, has her kids in swimming and soccer and loves to experiment with new recipes.
Taner Cigeroglu is an all around software developer. His speciality is Mediterranean food. He loves his olives and tahini and is always willing to share. He also likes his french toast with feta cheese.
Chris Gliddon is a social media manager and community advocate. He loves to tell our story.
In the News
We'd like to throw a shout-out to the original members of the startup team: Robert Dawson, Richard Fang, Kyle Newton, Shane Lawrence, Dan Kwak.
We'd also like to mention the organizers of the Okanagan Startup Weekend, Accelerate Okanagan, BCIC, the mentors, coaches, participants, sponsors, volunteers and judges for all their support. And thank you to everyone who was willing to spend some time giving us feedback through out the project so far. Thank you to our friends, family members and of course you !
Sharing is caring
This project came out of a simple idea and we will work extremely hard to get this product to market so everyone can benefit from it's feature set.
Help us spread the word and share this project with your friends. If you know anyone that may benefit from the time and money savings while still eating healthy, fresh, home cooked meals by using this service, please pass this on to them. We will be forever grateful.
Please consider supporting us. Select one of the perks from the top right so we can help reach our goal. And please share this campaign online with your friends and family. We really hope you join us !
Again, Thank You. Thank you so very much !
Sample Swag Items
Mincing knife and bamboo board set
Professional Oven Mitt
64-oz. Bobble Water Filter Jug (BPA-free)
Bamboo cheese board with slicer
Soapsense-Motion Activated Soap / Sanitizer Dispenser
Table saw pizza cutter with stainless blade
Risks and challenges
Because this is a software development project there's always the risk of delays due to unforeseen hurdles that every team faces in product development. With that being said, we are a passionate bunch and will always look for solutions to problems that may arise.