A smart kitchen assistant app helps users with planning, shopping, and cooking. Saakshi Jain, co-founder of Zelish, suggests a meal plan with recipes can be easily prepared from home. The app understands a user's food preferences such as their likes, dislikes, allergies.
After successfully completing the Techstars programme backed by Bosch in Munich, the app was launched in April 2020. Currently, the platform has over 1,20,000 active users who are avidly following the app's recommendations and enjoying their culinary experiences from their home kitchens.
Excerpts from her interview:
Tell us about Zelish, what does it do and how does it work?
Based on the meal plan, a grocery cart is automatically generated with all the ingredients required for the week. In addition to this, there is a step-by-step video guide that helps users prepare their meals with ease.
The signup process is pretty easy and it takes less than 30 seconds. One just needs to answer a few questions about their preferences and voila, it works as a tailor-made cooking assistant. The AI integrated algorithm can help in creating a complete personalised menu by just selecting the number of days for a meal plan.
How does it help in food wastage ?
The meal plans are made taking into account the shelf life of the ingredients, therefore reducing the risk of spoilage of perishable items. If there are extra items stocked up in the refrigerator at the end of the meal plan, one needs to just tap on the app and feed it while the AI ensures readjusting the ingredients usage according to their perishability.
Not just that, there are over 150 recipes that help users creatively customise and reuse leftovers or any extra dishes.
Did you face any challenges while launching the app?
Initially, the app was planned to be launched by July 2020. We were in Munich as a part of BSH Techstars 2020 batch, unfortunately due to the border closing announced by the government, we had to fly back to India overnight and spend countless days and nights working to accelerate the launch of the app. The app was finally launched just a week after lockdown was announced. Since everyone was operating from different places and had to don different hats, we faced quite a challenge to fast-track things but eventually, communication and accountability helped us turn things around in time.
What is the inspiration behind this app and what was the Eureka moment?
We are three food enthusiasts who always loved a good home cooked meal. We noticed that while technology has seeped into all aspects of our lives, the kitchen was somehow left behind. The only things people were focusing on was either ordering food from outside or dining out because a majority of meals cooked and eaten from Indian home kitchens are generally pretty mundane and staple.
People refrained from experimenting in the kitchen and preferred trying out different restaurants and cuisines, however the lockdown inspired people otherwise. Everyone wanted a change and started taking steps to enhance their culinary skills and make use of the appliances in the kitchen but no one really focused on the software part. We identified that gap after speaking to over 550 people and decided to cater to them.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience include working women professionals/ working households where both the spouses are working but are also responsible for managing the daily meals for their families. To add to this, Zelish aims to be the go-to App for anyone who manages the kitchen -- young adults who have moved away from homes, millennials who live alone, young urban working professionals, home-makers, individuals who follow a zero-wastage regiment, and men who need assistance for everything related to their kitchens.
What are your future plans?
We realised that people love to replicate dishes made by celebrity chefs and home chefs which is why we are now making their recipes shoppable. We already have celebrity chefs like Ranveer Brar, Ajay Chopra, Meghana Kamdar and home chefs like Hebbars Kitchen, Kanak's kitchen etc on our platform.