Like many of us, my wife and I struggle in keeping a good work/family life balance. We are parents of two young boys and our goal is to provide them with the best opportunities to grow and develop physically, intellectually and spiritually. We’ve learned that parenting is a lot of fun, a more than full time job AND is very rewarding. One of our biggest struggles is getting healthy, flavorful and “kid friendly” food on the table. We make frequent runs to Safeway, Trader Joe’s and to Whole Foods to buy as much fresh food as possible…and end up buying a lot of pre-made food too. Let’s face it, after a LONG day at work, it’s a lot easier to throw in the microwave a Trade Joe’s meat loaf than to whip one up from scratch.
The inspiration to prepare a complete meal does find us a few times a week, however. So we are not a complete “ready made meal” family…at least we’ve got that going for us. We’ve found that the big challenges in home cooking are…
1. Finding inspiration for great meals
2. Finding recipes that are easy and quick to prepare
3. Shopping for the ingredients
4. Taking the time to prepare the meal (the fun part)
5. Cleaning up (the not fun part)
UGH….any of these challenges is enough to push a family to do ready made food or to buy take-out.
We have been finding home cooked meal inspiration from a great site called Grokker. Signing up for Grokker is free and they do a great job in how their content is organized. The site provides how-to videos on preparing some great meals taught by professional chefs. When I say “professional” I mean chefs from the higher end restaurants or expert food bloggers…so they know a trick or two. One of our favorites is Whitney Bond who just KILLS it on creative ways to prepare the standard meals. My wife LOVED her sweet potato skin recipe. Or Doc Ward’s smoked ribs are AMAZING.
Grokker clearly addresses the challenges of finding inspiration and finding recipes that are easy to prepare. They also provide the recipe in text form that can be emailed or printed out to then find its way on a shopping list. It would be GREAT if Grokker could make it easy for me to export the list of ingredients into a shopping list on my iPhone. Hint, hint.
Grokker, however, does not help consumers take the pain out of 3 of the biggest challenges of home cooking; shopping, preparation time and clean up. I think if Grokker helped consumers do the shopping they will address A HUGE pain point and the site will attract more consumers eager to be inspired and enabled to cook great food. Hmmm…but how is this done? Grocery delivery is a tough business. Remember WebVan?
Grokker may address the shopping challenge by establishing a strategic partnership with Blue Apron. The combined assets will deliver a powerful consumer experience for both companies and their consumer base. Blue Apron just announced a $50M C-round of funding and is boasting the delivery of 500K meals a month. Wow. Blue Apron positions itself as a better way to cook with fresh ingredients, great recipes delivered to the consumer’s home. For a monthly fee starting at $9.95, Blue Apron provides recipes, ingredients and a home delivery service. The consumers can do the fun part, taking the time to prepare the meal.
I think Blue Apron is missing a key element…the inspiration around food and the community engagement with other foodies. By partnering with Grokker, Blue Apron receives well-produced content that may help it differentiate itself from competitors such as Plated or PeachDish. Given Blue Apron’s momentum, we all know competitors will be HOT on their apron strings. Amazon is working out the kinks of Amazon Fresh and as we know, they are good at getting e-commerce right.
Clearly, Grokker will gain a great deal from a Blue Apron strategic partnership. They will benefit through the monetization of its well produced cooking content through licensing agreements. Grokker could provide a VALUABLE service to Blue Apron that will generate a handsome revenue stream to fuel expert content development across more categories. Grokker will also provide a key service to their consumer audience – shopping and delivery of recipe ingredients. As a Grokker user, I see this as a great service!
Some may ask why Blue Apron would not just create the content themselves given their large capitalization. Clearly they have the money. Aah…creating the right, well-produced content is easier said than done, young Jedi. This is Grokker’s core competency. Another obvious question is why Blue Apron does not just buy Grokker…after all Grokker’s valuation at the moment is far less than Blue Apron’s at $500M. From what I can see the Grokker team is focused on building an expert video network including content beyond food, including yoga and health/fitness. In short, Grokker may not be open to Blue Apron’s marriage proposal…which is smart. Grokker will become a real hot number and potential suitors will be coming out of the woodwork.
The big key in making a Blue Apron/Grokker partnership work is ease of integration. The Blue Apron leadership team is under A LOT of pressure to grow subscribers and revenue. Grokker content can help grow subscribers by providing a lot of great content, recipes and chef personalities. If this content can be easily integrated on Blue Apron with minimal front-end engineering support, it’s not a stretch to envision this partnership.