What’s for dinner tonight?
You take one look at the contents of your fridge and think: ‘I think I’ll order in,’ as you pull up the folder on your smartphone that holds every food delivery service application in existence. The choices seem endless, and perhaps a little overwhelming: Postmates and DoorDash; Uber Eats and Caviar; Grubhub and Seamless.
Ayo Oshinaike wants you to get back in the kitchen and bare your sleeves. With the goal of inspiring a love for home-cooked meals in cooking-averse millennials, the Northeastern graduate has built a platform that aims to meet this generation where they are—aspirationally collecting recipes on Pinterest, but seldom breaking out a pot or a pan. His startup, Foodspace, attempts to simplify the recipe hunting and cooking process without sacrificing convenience.
“Millennials are getting to an age where they’re more cooking for themselves and they’re organizing information,” Oshinaike says. “What’s happening with our generation is that we’ve gone less for cooking and started getting delivery more just because of convenience, but I think it’s important to let people know that it is easy to cook, it’s easy to have that experience.”
Using machine learning to understand users’ food preferences and shopping behaviors, Oshinaike and his co-founders, Dan Yags (a fellow Northeastern graduate) and Zach Fan, hope to offer personalized suggestions for recipes, and soon, wine pairings to go with those recipes.
“We have a wine-pairing algorithm built with the recommendations of sommeliers that takes the pairing points of different foods and comes up with the perfect wine based off of not only the pairing points, but also preferences,” Oshinaike says.
Growing up, Oshinaike observed his mother go through the rigmarole of buying and cooking food. Then as a student at Northeastern, where he studied economics, biology, and finance, he tried in earnest to replicate his mother’s methods, but amid academic demands, often found himself ordering fast food instead. That’s when he came up with the idea for Foodspace.
The Foodspace app, which is scheduled to launch this fall, helps users find recipes based on keywords and save them using a plug-in feature. It also helps users keep stock of what’s in their fridge, and save time and money on grocery shopping. Finally, it allows people to connect with other Foodspace users.
“Let’s say Chef Gordon Ramsay posts a cool recipe,” Oshinaike says. “You’re able to find ingredients associated with that recipe and then go shopping. You could say, ‘Oh my God, I just saved this cool recipe from Gordon Ramsay, made a shopping list that cost $50, and then went to the grocery store and bought all those items.’ So it’s really about a shared experience where people can figure out the best way to go about eating that is personalized for them.”
Oshinaike also hopes Foodspace will make a dent in reducing food waste by offering users a system that keeps track of perishable items in their fridge and suggests suitable recipes.
“So let’s say you had carrots, a piece of chicken, a couple tomatoes, and ginger,” Oshinaike says. “That’s what’s left in your fridge, and they’re all spoiling. Can you help me figure out something I can make that I’ll like?”
Ultimately, with Foodspace, Oshinaike wants to provide options for people with different dietary lifestyles and socioeconomic backgrounds. If the app can help a family of four make a quick, budget-friendly, and healthy meal at home instead of opting for the usual meal at McDonald’s, the effort will have been worthwhile, he says.
“It’s silly to say, but I really picture it revolutionizing the way people eat,” he says.
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