The Kitchen Future We Deserve — Cupbrd

Cupbrd’s ceiling mounted device for tracking food in the home.

It’s a Wednesday night and you’re at the grocery store making your rounds. Most likely on the phone with someone at your house playing the game of “how-much-of-what-do-we-have-left”. I am personally amazed at how long people have been cool with this routine. Because we all know it results in you “meal planning” on the fly which in this case is just you dumping items in the cart that you hope form some semblance of a week’s worth of groceries. Needless to say you ended up buying the 4th jar of marinara sauce that you haven’t used and forgot you were out of balsamic vinaigrette dressing... for salad week. You see where I’m going with this… it’s a dark dark place. A place where there’s a tomato you forgot about 2 months ago, which has the likes of a biology experiment growing on it by now.

You see I’d consider myself a fairly content fellow: awesome wife, awesome life. But this insanity in the kitchen has to stop. After all we aren’t club yielding savages.

It all started when I watched my darling wife prepare a meal for some friends who were coming over. She was making homemade lasagna, which is my jam and probably the source of my impatience. Regardless this is how the process went — which leads me to a slide in our pitch deck:

Don’t worry i’ll do the math for you, 15+10+5+45+30=1 hour 45 minutes. What the #@$~? That’s the moment where my about-average-tempered self lost my $#*!. By now hopefully you have arrived at the same conclusion. The process of making food sucks, let’s not forget about the after-food-making process.

So you did it. You decided to cash in a half day of PTO just so you can make one bloody meal for you and your pals. But after the fact you’re left with: 1/2 avocado, 1/3 box of pasta, an onion, and some fresh mozzarella plus those delicious leftovers. You can pretty much bank on most of that food going bad, or all of the other food you bought while you figure out what to do with those odds and ends.

You: “Arrive at the point please.” Me: “Copy that.”

I founded a startup called Cupbrd, pronounced ‘Cupboard’ but without buying the extra vowels. Cupbrd’s whole vision is to “Build a better kitchen.” The kitchen you deserve. Because honestly there is no way the current kitchen is it. So, what is Cupbrd?

Elevator pitch: Cupbrd is an elegant ceiling mounted device that uses Computer Vision to recognize and track food in the kitchen. Its mobile app is powered by behavioral analysis and automated inventory tracking, freeing the user to meal plan and grocery shop away from the home and reminding them when they are out of their favorite foods.

Cupbrd’s ceiling mounted device uses Computer Vision for tracking food in the home.

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Cupbrd’s iOS app allows users to meal plan for a week in under 3min.

You: “Sounds like mythical magic.” Me: “Why yes it is that bad@ss, thank you.”

Long story short, I assembled a team of insanely talented engineers and designers and we put together our first hardware demo complete with react native app. The goal of this was to prove that we could track groceries coming into the home with a completely frictionless user experience, meaning the user doesn’t have to scan each item. Because Microsoft tried that back in 2006 and people voted: we’d rather starve than deal with that nonsense.

You: “Well, did you do it? Did it work?”

Me: “Yes.”

You: “Shut up.”

Me: “No.”

That’s right, with the many hours of our python savvy engineer John Whelan putting together the computer vision and deep learning code on the hardware. And Dominic Damian crushing it on the backend and react native app. We all got together in my house one evening and ran our first full test. The goal was for me to be able to unload a bag of groceries onto the kitchen counter and put them away without pausing or scanning the items individually. We started the test and unloaded the groceries, put them away, and like magic — every single item was added to the app’s pantry without me doing a single thing.

Ok so at this point you are either thinking, “I want that” or “Ok nerd, cool your jets and explain”

That simple hardware test is so epic because it is the foundation for the entire frictionless user experience. A frictionless user experience is being able to just prepare and eat food in your kitchen and then pull out your phone while at the grocery store and know what food you have and how much you need to make the meals you’ve been craving for days. You see, if we are able to identify what food is passing over your kitchen counters we can also tell how often you are using those items and calculate how much of each item you have left.

You: “OMG, do you take Visa?”

Me: “Soon enough.”

SOooo where are we at now? Well the honest truth is the next phase of prototyping is going to require a little more Hot Pocket and Dr. Pepper money and we are looking to bring on some slightly hangry-prone angel investors. We are looking for investors who are able to sink their teeth into a startup that has the brains and skills to make this execution come to life. We’d love to tell you about some of the connections we have made and our vision for the future. We are also looking for an iOS swift coding ninja that would like to join the team. So if interested please shoot me an email at: Andrew@Cupbrd.com and let’s grab coffee or you can fly me out to your private island and we can chat there, totally your call.

In future blog posts I’m more than happy to get super technical and talk a little bit about what is under the hood making the hardware and software tick. Please just leave questions or feedback in the comments.

Credits:

Jeremey Fleischer for his flawless design work, and letting me crash at his house for numerous weeks while traveling to the bay.

Alison Gamble for her endless hours of working on decks and company formation.

Nathan Moore for being the EE in the room who can actually read hardware schematics.

Brit Leek for her insane industrial design expertise.