By Mirianna la Grasta
Founded in May 2019, by former colleagues and Barclays employees Siddhi Mittal and Heinin Zhang, YHANGRY is an early-stage food tech startup that aims to be the very first affordable private chef online platform. YHANGRY brings casual, restaurant-like, dining to its customers and their friends. In the words of its co-founder Heinin: “It allows you to have a chef over for a dinner party with casual food, at an affordable price. It doesn’t cost you more than getting a Deliveroo.”
The online platform lets you pick the date, party size, type of meal, cusine, menu and dietary requirements for your guests, and the team does the rest, shipping groceries, as well as a qualified chef to your door on the selected day. Social connectedness and spending quality time together are at the core of YHANGRY’s mission. “It’s something that has gained more importance than ever in recent months, with many feeling lonely and disconnected as a result of lockdown rules,” says Siddhi Mittal.
The all-female-founded business, which graduated from the Google for Startups Residency program in February 2020, has had to revolutionise and adapt its whole revenue model to a world struck by COVID.
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But How Have They Done It?
Overnight, after the lockdown was announced, our revenue for dinner parties went to zero. So we went back to our whiteboard and we started thinking about other possible sources of revenue income. We launched two new revenue models. The first is virtual cooking classes: you can hire a chef virtually and they will take you through the entire meal-cooking process step-by-step, so you can have fun with your friends and family virtually. It’s not just another video call. The second revenue model consists in batch-cooking deliveries: you can order a selection of eight to 16 personalised meals for the entire week; then everything will be freshly-prepared by a personal chef, who’s licenced to produce meals in their own kitchen, and the food will be delivered to your home contactless.
How Did Your Customer Demographic Change With COVID?
The pandemic has left many people working in the hospitality sector without a job, so since lockdown, we’ve received a huge amount of applications from chefs looking for work. We have over 40 chefs on board at the moment. Normally, we would look at CVs and then do a cooking trial where we taste personally every single dish cooked by the chef. But now, with COVID, we’ve launched online trials: we’ve figured that if the chef can lead us through the cooking process online, in as much detail as possible, we can re-create their trial dishes in our kitchen, and they would taste almost like the ones they are preparing during our video call.
How Has Recruitment Changed?
Our startup was born as aimed at 25-35-year-olds. Initially, it was mainly corporate professionals who found it interesting. With COVID and our new offerings that has changed. Virtual cooking classes attract a broad demographic: we’ve seen our usual customers doing classes with their parents. Whereas for batch cooking the demographic it’s usually made up of people who are busy and want to be taken care of with a nice meal, or it’s parents who have too much on their plate as they’re working from home and homeschooling their children.
What Would You Say is the Most Invaluable Thing You’ve Learned So Far?
Siddhi: Persistence, I guess. Being persistent in whatever you’re trying to pursue. Things are never easy. But then you realise you far you’ve come by approaching things that way.
Heinin: At the risk of sounding cheesy, the most important thing to me is to go into business with someone you really get along well with.