Tonight’s dinner will be served by…Sharing economy!
Sharing economy for a meal! Imagine this. One-hungry evening, you feel like eating at a stranger’s house. You go on Eatwith website, select the location and the verified-chef, the meal that you want to eat, you pay for it and then you go to the chef’s house to eat your dinner! Essentially, Eatwith charges the hungry people and for an individual to become a chef, it is completely free! (I guess Eatwith took some courses in BIM and knew all about Network effects and who to charge).
Anyway, Eatwith is a website that shares similar characteristics to Airbnb or Uber (I will be making a comparison on Uber later). 1. The service provider (in this case the “chef”) needs to be verified. 2. You choose the “chef” based on their ratings, descriptions. 3. There are other hungry strangers like you, attending the same dinner.
The website has been around since 2010 and currently, it is active in 150 cities. But it made me curious because Eatwith sounds like an idea that could’ve easily become a household name. At the same time, maybe there were similar ideas before Eatwith. So I did a little more digging about them.
Guy Michlin, the CEO of Eatwith found 3 other similar ideas and he decided to contact all of them and discovered that 3 other ideas lacked future direction, had inadequate investment and faced some issues with functionality. They also stated that they got their financing in July 2012. It took them 2 long years to get the support.
Journey to success
What would be the difference between Eatwith and Uber? I’m making a reasonable speculation that the dinner usually lasts much longer than a ride. This implies that there should be a higher emphasis on the quality of the service provided. In another article, the CEO, Guy Michlin talks about the intensive vetting process that the potential chef has to go through. To become a chef, the application involves filling in an application form (where you have to submit photo/video of your meal). In the photo/video, the way they present their meals are also assessed because Eatwith perceives dining as a true experience which is not only about the food but how the food is presented. Furthermore, the CEO mentions that the experience-focus aspect as well as their global focus (their determination to encourage travellers to try a local cuisine using Eatwith) is what differentiates other similar services from Eatwith.
To me, it makes sense that it took quite a while for Eatwith to become a major household name. Compare to Uber, they would have longer vetting process and that could take a while but at the same time, it guarantees the quality of the service. Additionally, if you think about it, in terms of competition, Eatwith can be considered as one of the competitors for a local restaurant. An individual with confident cooking capability and a capacity to host can easily become a competitor of your neighbourhood restaurant. My next natural question is, how many of those individuals actually exist in a given city? I think the answer to this question is one of the possible starting points to assess whether Eatwith is actually considered as a “disruptive business model”. On one hand, like Uber did to the taxi industry, Eatwith can be drastically changing the business landscape of local restaurants. On the other hand, out of the total population in the city, how many people are actually able to become Eatwith-certified chefs? Something to think about..
Anyway, this blog post made me hungry, hope you enjoyed the blog post!
Bruce, B. (2015). Tesco commissions Anthesis Group to develop online sustainability community. [online] FoodBev. Available at: http://www.foodbev.com/news/tesco-commissions-anthesis-group-to-develop-online-sustainability-community/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].
Cañigueral, A. (2013). Guy Michlin, Eatwith.com CEO, interviewed at Barcelona. [online] Consumo Colaborativo. Available at: http://www.consumocolaborativo.com/2013/01/13/guy-michlin-ceo-de-eatwith-com-entrevistado-en-barcelona/?lang=english [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].
Eatwith.com, (2015). Eatwith.com – Dining Experience, Supper Clubs, Local Food and more. [online] Available at: http://www.eatwith.com/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].
Jones, C. (2013). Interview: Guy Michlin, EatWith – The Culintro Blog. [online] The Culintro Blog. Available at: http://blog.culintro.com/interview-guy-michlin-eatwith/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].
Kircher, M. (2015). I ate dinner at a stranger’s house using an app and I’d totally do it again. [online] Tech Insider. Available at: http://www.techinsider.io/eatwith-app-lets-you-eat-cheap-with-strangers-2015-10 [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].