Interview with Polina Marchenko from KptnCook.
Hey, Polina! Can you share with us who you are and what your position at KptnCook is?
Hi, I am Polina, truly foodie, CEO and co-founder of KptnCook.
It feels like there are many cooking apps available right now. How does KptnCook differ from them?
You are absolutely right! There is a huge amount of cooking apps out there. They all offer thousands of recipes. We offer only three. But every weekday three new! With this approach we make the decision “what’s for dinner?” much easier. With us people stay curious and are looking forward to new recipes every day! Apart from this, we are not considering KptnCook to be another cooking or shopping list app. We offer a whole new 360 degree solution facilitating daily cooking.
Could you explain the product and the business model a little more?
Sure! KptnCook is a mobile app for curated recipe-based grocery shopping with step-by-step cooking pictures. We motivate people for daily cooking, while reducing the hustle around grocery shopping. Everyday we offer three new recipes already paired with shopping lists, which contain real products and prices from different supermarkets.
Soon, we will enable in-app purchases of recipes, and we will work on B2B partnerships with retailers and brand producers offering them a mobile-to-local marketing platform.
Sounds delicious! Can you share some KPIs with us?
We have over 90,000 downloads. Everyday the app is actively used by thousands of users starting from 7 o’clock in the morning. For seven weeks we are in the Top 10 in the category “food&drinks“, we believe it is because our happy users recommend us to their friends and friends of friends, since we haven’t invested in marketing at all.
Congrats! That’s pretty impressive. How big is the team now and what are their responsibilities?
We are three co-founders. Eva is creative director and Alex is CTO. And since we are only three, we do everything ourselves: cooking, taking pictures & coding.
KptnCook is based in Berlin. Why are you in San Francisco right now?
From the very beginning, it was important for us to build a great product. We have bootstrapped until now and were able to prove the product-market fit. We are ready to make the next step and grow. That’s why we are currently looking for seed investment. We consider the US to have a huge potential for our venture, that’s why we are currently talking with investors in San Francisco.
That is interesting. How is it going and how does it differ from talking to investors in Germany?
American investors are very open-minded and are initially interested in new concepts. In SF, you meet investors at every startup event, which I cannot say about events in Berlin. At the same time, the competition in the US is much tougher than in Germany. As a food startup looking for funding we are not only competing with other food startups, but with all other startups simultaneously. And there is a huge amount of them. We have some progress here, but I am not ready to share it publicly.
What are you next steps for Germany and worldwide expansion?
We are increasing the number of supermarkets in the app and want to experiment with ordering within the app and build partnerships with online supermarkets. Moreover, we have a great concept for gamification, which would be very important for building an active community around cooking. As I said already, we are willing to expand to the US.
When did you start, and did you pivot in between?
The three of us met in June 2013 at the Startup Weekend Food Innovation. Our initial idea was, apart from offering curated recipes, also enabling pick-up at the local supermarkets. It was obviously very convenient for users, but the supermarkets do not realize the potential yet. After we have pivoted and launched the app, we have realized that we already offer our users a huge help and support their decision making in the store.
If you weren’t working on your startup, what else would you do?
I am not sure what exactly it would have been, but I am more than sure that I would have been involved with a startup. I am not afraid of burn-out. I am rather afraid of bore-out of the corporate life.
What’s your best advice for current founders?
Be open-minded, be flexible, don’t be afraid to pivot, build a great product, hear your users, constantly work on your network. As people in SV say, believe in serendipity, help people around you and one day somebody would support you.
Thanks a lot for your time and insights! Looking forward to seeing more of KptnCook soon!