This is really well thought through and I applaud your effort.
Aayush Iyer
41

Aayush, thanks for such a thoughtful question. This type of privilege definitely exists, and is something that we’ve seen in comparing our inbound cook applications to our ideal cook personas in new markets like Seattle and Portland. That said, I think it’s something that we need to be proactive in addressing both from a justice perspective as well as from a business health perspective.

In short, the people who hear about Josephine first and apply to become cooks are generally younger, more tech-savvy, and more enthusiastic about our business, but often don’t share the life experiences and pressures that our platform and team are optimized to work with.

The difference between these two demographics is most visible in these two areas:

The impact of the money.

Time and time again we’ve seen that even the most enthusiastic Josephine cooks will churn if they don’t really need the money. Our goal has explicitly been to help folks utilize home cooking as a meaningful source of income. In other words, we’re looking for people who are saying “I’m willing to quit my job to work on Josephine.” We see a lot of inbound applications from people with full-time jobs, but know historically that virtually all of our most successful cooks are either already home (stay-at-home-parents) or feel unsatisfied, but trapped at their current job.

The ability to scale sustainably.

This one is a little less intuitive, but we find that non-professional cooks are better at making money on Josephine. So many folks come out of culinary schools without a working knowledge of how to cook in bulk, how to shop on a budget, or how to cook in a home kitchen. The process of cooking on Josephine has also been modeled after a type of behavior that has existed outside of the professional industry. I’ve seen professional chefs unable to cost out their recipes and culinary school grads who don’t have equipment to cook for more than 12 in their home kitchens, whereas these are things that so many of our parents and grandparents can do in their sleep.

— —

These were pretty expensive insights and lessons for us to learn (especially in new markets), but they’re validating in that they are evidence towards our unique product-market fit. The challenge lies in acknowledging that our market of excluded demographics is one that inherently requires more thoughtful recruiting and communication. We’ve learned over and over again that there are very few “easy” solutions to growing our business.

Tactically, this means we’ve started to front-load a lot more research and recruiting in our new markets as opposed to simply responding to inbound cook applications. We look at demographics (income, racial breakdown, average household size, etc) of each city and it’s residential/suburban neighborhoods to determine where we might find the most cooks. We talk to other activism organizations and non-profits about the communities that they work with. When we do find cooks that seem to be great fits for Josephine, we try and better understand where they spend their precious time and who their trusted communities are.

Overall there does seem to be an interesting dichotomy between who cares about Josephine the business and who builds Josephine the business. Our value sharing announcement and much of upcoming brand work is an attempt to acknowledge and mitigate that privilege & power gap.

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