News - August 2, 2017

App for food sharing

Linda van der Nat

If you don’t feel like cooking or lack the time and still want to enjoy a home cooked meal, an app available starting September might offer a solution: it connects hungry students and WUR employees to food loving cooks willing to invite you to their homes for a meal.

Kalyan Chakravarthy Guntuboyina and his wife, Keerthi Sri. © Sven Menschel

The i2d food app (Innovations 2 Delight) was conceived by Kalyan Chakravarthy Guntuboyina, researcher working on Metropolitan Food Clusters & Agroparks development, and his wife Keerthi Sri, an expert in market research. Both are enthusiastic users of platforms like Uber and Airbnb, where ‘regular’ people offer their services as taxi driver or a night in their homes.

‘I travel a lot’, says Guntuboyina, ‘and very often I smell delicious foods on the streets, but I end up eating on my own in a hotel. Together, we thought how great it would be if you are in a foreign country and could get an authentic meal served in people’s homes. There’s no better way to get to know people than sitting with them and sharing a meal. In many Latin American countries, it is common for people to meet over food and it is referred to as social snacking.’ ‘There are many food sharing platforms, but there’s no dynamic app like i2dfood’, says Sri.

Exam period
The couple saw Wageningen as a good starting point. ‘Students are known for not eating well, especially during exams, when they don’t have time to cook. The food in the canteens of Forum and Orion can be good, but also a bit boring. Also, dinner is not an option in these canteens and they remain closed on weekends. A home cooked meal being offered in a real home fills in this gap.’

There’s no better way to get to know people than sitting with them and sharing a meal.
Kalyan Chakravarthy Guntuboyina

With the help of Startlife, Guntuboyina and Sri – along with a team of first generation entrepreneurs – built an app where enrolled kitchens can upload their meals for the coming three days, depending on their interest and convenience. Guntuboyina: ‘Say you are planning on making a chicken biryani. You make a small description of the meal along with the ingredients, indicate for how many people you are cooking it for and upload the meal on the i2d food kitchen portal. Students can see this meal displayed on the i2d food app and make a meal booking request. If the booking request is accepted by the host, the guest and the host will have the opportunity to sit at the dining table together. We are starting off with limited meal options and with fixed prices to keep it simple. three euros for breakfast, five euros for lunch and seven euros for dinner since it is mainly aimed at students.’

The coming weeks, the i2d team will search for kitchens in the neighbourhood of WUR. ‘We are looking to recruit three types of kitchens’, says Guntuboyina. ‘First, those that like to cook vegan or bake cakes and get a kick out of sharing it with others. Second, the serious hobby chefs that love to try new things and want feedback to improve. And last, the house wives and couples that love to cook and offer their food to be able to meet others.’ Keerthi adds: ‘There are many expat wives that are highly educated but are not inclined to work full-time. They can cook to socialise. Through our app, they can earn some money with it as well.’ The team will check and verify whether the kitchens are hygienic and the homes are suitable to host guests.

Husband and wife hope to get the app live in September. In the beginning, only WUR students and employees can log in, so cooks ‘know who’s standing at their door’, but in the future, the couple wants to conquer other university cities as well, and the rest of the world after that. ‘We also see possibilities for other target segments such as senior citizens. They are not always eating healthy and can be lonely. For them, this app could be an opportunity too.’