You Must Crawl Before You Can Run

Why We Started Curplated

Jimmy and I worked together in the food delivery space at Caviar. We both joined the company around the same time, a little more than a year ago. We were a part of the rapid growth of Caviar, watching the company grow from 20 people to 120 people by the time we left. In January of 2015, roughly 5 months after Caviar was acquired by Square, it became clear that we were no longer needed. At the time I was leading Corporate Sales and User Acquisition in New York. Square wanted to get out of serving corporate clients, so I was let go. At the same time Jimmy decided to leave because the opportunity for him to learn wasn’t there anymore. (More on this in the next post…)

We both suddenly found ourselves as outsiders, but we were still interested in the food delivery space and felt we had something to offer. We decided to survey the space and get a better understanding of what other companies were doing to see if there was an opportunity to start something. Having had our heads down at Caviar since joining, we felt there were a lot of competitors and fragmentation in the space, but wanted to understand what each company’s value proposition was. On a snowy Monday morning we began to look at the competitors, reaching out to companies in the space, like Sprig, Maple, Munchery and Good Meal. We spoke with their users and anyone who would be willing to talk to us about their eating habits.

After surveying the space, we saw a big problem with healthy eating and the fragmentation of all of the different food delivery services available. This was going to be the problem we solved!

Learning To Crawl

Fundamentally, we wanted to make it easier for someone to choose what to eat for any given meal. We can all recall staring at a Seamless menu thinking “what should I get? Am I really in the mood for this?” We asked ourselves questions such as “why do we look at menus and see items we’d never eat?” and “why do waiters come up to the table and list off all the specials or make recommendations on what to order without understanding what we can’t eat or what we enjoy to eat?”

To solve this problem we thought about aggregating all of the best options people could order and then giving them 5 options a day. To start, you’d never see things you don’t eat, and over time “it” would understand what you like and recommend more relevant dishes. Because we couldn’t code, we set-up a mail-merge, sending out nightly emails to our first users. The email contained five recommended dishes and a link to order, through Caviar, Seamless, Munchery, or even the number to the actual restaurant that made the dish we were recommending.

Some of our users already had stipends from Seamless, and they really liked what we were doing. They thought that the emails alleviated the confusion and time spent deciding what to order from a sea of dishes. Other users found it frustrating as they just wanted to “click” and order food (the problem of deeplinking).

After hours of feedback calls and a lot of discussion, we determined that Curplated could place the orders for our users, with the hopes of automating this down the line. Ironically enough what we were creating was the exact same thing we had done at Caviar. When I first joined the company the technology wasn’t the best, and many times I would personally have to place orders for large clients.

Our First Steps

We moved away from nightly emails and started texting our users to see if they wanted to order dinner that night. Once they said yes, we sent them a personalized “curated” menu. If they wanted one of the four dishes, they simply texted us back with their choice and we placed the order.

It’s been four weeks since we made the switch to text, and I’m glad to say it’s been a success. But make no mistake, we have a long road ahead. From growing our user base, to raising funds, to finding an engineering lead there is a lot of work to be done.

So this is where you come in — our Curplated family, the people that signed up for an email out of curiosity (and maybe some peer pressure).

We are coming to you first to ask you to spread the word about Curplated. Whether you’re a weekly user or someone who only subscribes to the newsletter, tell your friends about Curplated and suggest they sign up. You can even copy the text below, tweet this link, or share this article on Facebook.

Thank you all for sharing this journey with us. The best is yet to come!

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Copy and Paste: (Insert Friends Name) you need to check out Curplated. They solve the problem of what to eat for dinner by recommending healthy dishes based upon your eating habit.

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