The taste of homemade cooking is hard to beat and a mobile app is helping home cooks reach out to customers.
Restaurants and cafes in your town may offer a plethora of dishes to satisfy your appetite, from pricey five-course meals to cheap junk food. But nothing beats a home-cooked meal.
Recognizing people’s craving for home-cooked dishes, three young app developers from Surabaya, East Java, have created Delihome, a food delivery app dedicated to cooks and small and medium-sized businesses to share their hearty dishes with the city.
The app was founded by Andree Wijaya, James Junianlie and Elisabeth Be, three employees of a Surabaya-based app development firm.
“During a break at our office, we used to have lunch at a nearby restaurant. Often times, we were not satisfied with the taste,” Andree, who studied computer science at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said in a telephone interview.
“Let’s say, my friend ordered chicken. When I tasted it, I thought, ‘my mother cooks tastier chicken than that.’ It got me thinking, why we don’t create a platform that helps housewives and home cooks sell their meals online,” he said.
The three submitted the idea to Startup Sprint, a competition held by the startup incubation program Start Surabaya with the support from the Surabaya city administration and several private companies.
From the 500 applications submitted in October 2015, Start Surabaya selected the 10 best applications and helped the entrepreneurs develop the app within three months. Delihome, which received total funding of Rp 50 million (US$ 3,729) from the program, emerged as the winning app.
With a few taps on the smartphone, users in Surabaya can have home-cooked meals and snacks delivered to their door. Delihome offers dozens of menus ranging from savory sausage rolls to succulent hot pork cooked with petai (bitter bean).
Delihome charges Rp 10,000 for every delivery. The users can pay cash or pay via bank transfers.
“Two hundred and fifty home cooks have offered to partner with us. But so far, we have just authorized 50 home cooks to sell with Delihome. It is because we need time to assess the quality and hygiene of every dish proposed by the home cooks,” said Andree, who serves as Delihome’s CEO.
Making food look interesting is important in the online food delivery business. Andree and his team ensure that the home cooks have great photos and proper packaging to go with the menus.
“If they don’t have them, we can help to photograph their dishes and provide the packaging,” he added.
The app, available on Google Play and the Apple Store, has been downloaded over 1,100 times.
One of the hardest tasks, Andree said, is to educate the home cooks on how to operate the app.
“It is a challenging process, but at the end, I am always glad with the results. One of our home cooks, Mrs. Kasmiati, could only use her phone to make a call and send text messages. She was enthusiastic when we invited her to the platform and taught her to operate the app,” Andree said.
Kasmiati’s effort to master the app paid off. Nasi campur Kasmiati (Kasmiati’s Mixed Rice) has become the one of the best-selling dish on the app. It consists of a generous portion of steamed rice served with fried chicken, sambal, perkedel (potato fritters), stir-fried noodles and vegetables, all for Rp 15,000, or just over one US dollar.
So far, the app only provides a pre-order service, where users place their order days prior to the delivery, says Elisabeth, who serves as Delihome’s chief marketing officer.
“With the pre-order system, every vendor is better-prepared in handling the orders. They only cook the number of meals ordered in the day. So there won’t be leftovers,” the 22-year-old Elisabeth said.
James, the chief financial officer of Delihome, said the company planned to establish a presence in more cities later on this year.
As part of Startup Sprint’s winning prize, Andree, Elizabeth and James were invited to visit Silicon Valley from Jan. 13 to 19. The visit gave them a chance to exchange ideas with professionals from world-class companies and startup incubators such Google, Facebook, Code for America, Start X, Startup Weekend and GSVlabs.
James said the discussions had inspired them to develop food hygiene guidelines for Delihome’s home cooks.
“We will focus on what the home cook needs,” said James, who earned his master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation management at the University of Nottingham Ningbo in China.
“We’re thinking about providing training programs or a practical guideline that helps them to ensure food hygiene,” James added.
Start Surabaya will accept applications for its next batch of startup companies in March.
“We want to show the youth that they can be entrepreneurs in the technology sector,” said Apriska Afiolita, the project officer of Start Surabaya.
“As we are entering the ASEAN Economic Community, Startup Surabaya wants to help Indonesian youth create technology-based innovations that can compete on the global stage,” she added.