A handful of common passion. A pinch of mentoring. A good deal of work. These were the ingredients needed to launch Oh-Chef, a new online platform to organize culinary experiences at home by quality chefs!
Back in April 2013, my friend Thierry Lahaye and I were discussing our next start-up project around a drink after a squash. Thierry is a serial entrepreneur and I’ve worked for many years in a restaurant; we were brainstorming ideas to combine our skills for a new service for a common passion: the good food industry!
Our initial idea was to launch an Internet platform to choose, compare and book cooking classes already delivered by third parties, with the goal to become key reference in the sector, and to later offer both recorded and live cooking class videos.
To test our idea, we decided to enroll in the Startup Weekend of Brussels, organized with the support of MIC Brussels (Microsoft Innovation Center Brussels), Impulse, Betagroup, and Solvay Entrepreneurs. Our project Oh-Chef.be was one of the 18 projects selected (out of 40 projects presented). We spent 48 exiting hours working with a team improvised on-site, and with the help from professional coaches. That weekend allowed us to make consumers interviews and to meet the director of a well-known cooking school in Brussels, who gave us a positive feedback on our project. We were even invited by Céline Fremault, Brussels Minister of the Economy, to shoot a cooking class at her office’s kitchen!
At the end of the Brussels Startup Weekend, the conclusion was that people felt the project had some potential, but that our offer could not be profitable as it was. Far from discouraging us, this feedback left us with a strong desire to pursue the project, but in a different form.
The Brussels Startup Weekend also gave us the opportunity to be selected for the Boostcamp of MIC Brussels, with 12 other promising startups. During nearly four months, our Oh-Chef project was challenged by professionals, who also gave us lots of advice and introduced us to many people interested in the project. We had to change and refine our project many times before we reached our final concept: the organization of culinary experiences (cooking classes, cooking shows and dinner parties) at home or at the offices, managed by quality chefs at an affordable budget!
Soon after the end of the Boostcamp, we made the big jump and created the company Oh-Chef on January 6, 2014. Built on Windows Azure cloud platform, the website went live shortly after. As Microsoft BizSpark member, Oh-Chef will continue to benefit from Microsoft’s support and free software for the next three years.
The technology being sorted, our focus is to grow significantly the number of chefs partnering with us and increase our customer base, starting in Brussels and its surroundings.