Sitting down to a homemade meal is not always easy, but DishDivvy has come online to make it more of a reality, and at the same time provide home cooks with a way to make money from their creations.
Ani Torosyan, co-founder and CEO, started the Los Angeles-based company three years ago with CTO Davit Avetisyan. Her family immigrated to the U.S., and though both of her parents were busy engineers, Torosyan recalls growing up with a home-cooked meal on the table everyday.
“Fast-forward to now, I am the busy working parent, and although I love to cook, we always have the dinner dilemma of what to eat,” she added. “I have a mother-in-law who is also a good cook, and I kept thinking about how to productize what she was doing, especially as I saw more and more of the people in my community open to paying for access to this.”
Etsy was the inspiration for DishDivvy’s marketplace, which aims to reduce the additional overhead costs for its home cooks, Torosyan said.
“Its reason for success was that it was providing tools to take the boring business stuff out of running a business and help people focus on their craft,” she added. “Similarly, we provide SaaS tools for uploading menus, orders, revenue and transactions. We also partner with DoorDash, so any home cook where there is coverage can have delivery. All of those are a hurdle for people who just want to make food.”
Indeed, home cooks, who are vetted and food-safety certified, get a suite of tools on the app to upload their menu items, and they can tag ingredients, allergens and note the prep time, which is used to calculate how much advance notice is needed for people to order and a calendar to schedule their dishes. The home cooks don’t have to be a 9-to-5 restaurant, either. They can offer, for example, three dishes on Thursday and two on Friday.
On the customer side, they can explore the meals being made near them, add dishes to their cart, select the day and time for pickup at the cook’s home or delivery, and checkout. When the customer pulls up for a curbside order, there is a button on the app that tells the cook they are there. Torosyan boasts that the average time from the customer saying they are there to getting the food in their car is 44 seconds.
The global pandemic saw many people start working in the gig economy, and similarly, Torosyan saw a surge in cook applications beginning two years ago. Not just for home cooks, but for people who used to work in restaurants and hospitality.
Torosyan was also on the advocacy team leading the passage of AB 626, the California Homemade Food Act. That has since paved the way for legislation around home kitchen operations to progress into 44 home cooking bills across 29 states since 2018.
Now DishDivvy boasts more than 500 cooks and 10,000 users across California. “Initially we were looking at the ethnic uniqueness of the cooks, but now that we have so many cooks, we are focused on food that you can’t find in a restaurant or can’t find a more authentic dish,” Torosyan added. “It’s like having an ‘Anthony Bourdain’ experience without leaving your neighborhood.”
Today the company announced $1.3 million in pre-seed funding to expand its reach in California and into pockets of Austin, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., Baltimore and the Washington, D.C. area. It will also invest in product development, operations and team growth.
Torosyan aims to triple the size of the team of nine this year after seeing its revenue grow an average of 33% year over year over the past three years. Its average order volume is $48, and 85% of that goes to the cook.
10X Venture led the pre-seed, with participation from early employees and senior executives of DoorDash, Etsy, Eaze and MasterClass.
Prahar Shah, who was an early employee at DoorDash and is currently managing director of 10X Venture and a member of DishDivvy’s board, said he also recalls his family eating together, and, in fact, the immigrant community he was a part of in Canada fed itself.
“You knew everyone’s speciality,” he added. “I’m surprised this marketplace didn’t already exist in the U.S., but it really exists offline. Ani is the voice of the home cook, and when I met her and experienced the product, I knew I had to be involved with it.”
Meanwhile, DishDivvy is operating in an increasingly crowded landscape, where companies like WoodSpoon, Shef, Feastastic, Supper in London, Wummly, Foodcloud, Homefoodi, FoodyBuddy and ZuperMeal are going after what Torosyan estimates is a $6 billion home restaurant market inside the larger $1 trillion restaurant industry.
Torosyan saw many competitors come online after the California home cook bill passed; however, she also saw many start up for a few months and then abandon the idea. What she ultimately sees is having access to what amounts to a personal chef service at to-go prices.
“Part of the passion is to make good food and feed the kids, and home cooking is all about that,” she added. “We are bringing back eating well, but keeping it hyperlocal so none of the food travels across the country. That sends a signal that every person can become a home cook, and we have a place for you to do it.”