If we are what we eat, there’s a lot of instant noodles in the workplace.
Thankfully, Vancouver is host to a startup that intends to balance the diet of every young professional it can. It’s called Mealime.
For $15 a month, Mealime provides amateur cooks with a weekly meal plan of foolproof recipes, with each providing enough for two meals. Mealime will even tell you what to do with that week’s additional leftovers. If the name rings a bell, it might have something to do with its recent feature on Lifehacker.
Jeffrey Bunn is an apt name for the co-creator of a food-related app; his partner is his girlfriend of a year and a half, Maria Golikova. The inspiration for Mealime was his own struggle with the culinary arts. Five months on, he raves enthusiastically about his chicken pesto pasta dish, and describes the recipe with relish.
“The business was borne of a problem, as most businesses are, and it was my problem,” Bunn told Techvibes. “Right now, it’s all about ‘I don’t want to get takeout all the time’. For young professionals, takeouts and lunches are expensive. It can be really difficult if you weren’t raised in a cooking household. I used to wander the grocery aisle with glazed eyes and hoping I could find a recipe that didn’t take an hour to make, and you throw out a third of it because it goes bad.”
“The idea is 30 minutes or less to make that night’s dinner and tomorrow’s brown bag lunch,” he continued. “Looking at myself, there’s definitely ways to learn how to cook, your way around the kitchen…I just didn’t want to do it! The space online is crowded already, but mostly towards families. They’re all targeted towards the mother cooking for a family of four; there’s really no space that’s being occupied going after people like [young professionals].”
Mealime currently has just under five thousand users. It was originally conceived last August, but innate secrecy kept the app on a need to know basis until it finally launched in January.
The reception has been positive. There’s increasing demands for vegetarian-friendly meal plans, but aside from that, users are almost unilaterally enthusiastic. Vegetarianism is a lifestyle that Jeffrey himself has taken on in the past few months; it is an inevitable expansion, and he’s looking to have it ready in six months.
“Right now, we’re doing a lot of development in the back-end,” says Bunn. “In two months, we’ll be doing a really big push to convert our trial users into paying customers. That’ll be the project for the next while, and after that, we’d like to start developing vegetarian meal plans.”
To the people who doubt that the app will have a market in a world full of free recipes and cheap cookbooks?
“There’s a huge group of people who are underrepresented in cookbooks – searching for recipes online is not catered to us,” he argues. “I understand why the family is being catered to, but there’s a lot of [young professionals] who have no problem paying for a service that saves us time and saves us money. I think time is more valuable than money, to a point. So I think it’s a huge opportunity that’s underrepresented. There’s several large competitors making good money in the family space which is priced similarly with an almost identical product. It’s a big opportunity, and we’re at the forefront of it.”
Tasty, easy recipes delivered each week, teaching young people how to cook while saving them an estimated $250 a month? There is certainly an appetite for that.