By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Their premise is clear: “You should be able to do what you love and make money doing it.” When their app is available later this month, the five-person team behind Gigamunch is putting that philosophy in play with the launch of a Beta version of the start-up’s online, food ordering app in the Nashville market.
The plan is to be the Etsy for cooking, connecting would be chefs who cook in their homes, not in restaurants, with customers who want to experience the pleasure of eating the food of many nations when there are not restaurants with that type of cuisine in their community.
“The idea essentially emerged because we live in Cookeville, love to eat, but our options are limited to mostly chain restaurants,” Co-Founder Xavier Brown told us. The Cookeville native is one of five Tennessee Tech University (TTU) students who came together to found the new venture.
Thus far, their collective effort is producing solid results. The Gigamunch team successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $10,633 by the time it ended March 12. The members also won $4,000 from TTU’s “Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition,” an important initiative emphasized by TTU Vice President Bharat Soni in the second article in our two-part series about TTU.
Gigamunch lined-up 30 users and 40 chefs for the Beta test that it just launched.
“They (chefs) are excited to be a part of what we are doing,” Brown said.
One of the other four Co-Founders is Enis Cirak, who was born in Bosnia but immigrated to the U.S. when he was five years old. His family now resides in Nashville.
“Enis’ mom makes incredible Bosnia food,” Brown says, highlighting the opportunity the Gigamunch team sees. There are few ethnic restaurants in Cookeville and many other cities, so being able to eat food prepared by native born cooks is a luxury for those who crave food normally only available in an individual’s home.
“We wanted to tap into that network,” Brown explained.
The sign-up methodology is straightforward. Like fast growing start-ups like Uber and Airbnb, Gigamunch has a multi-step process vet prospective chefs so that customers can be assured of quality, reliability and security.
“There is a process to become a chef,” Cirak explains. It starts with an initial interview followed by a background check and a live inspection of the kitchen that will be used. They will be looking for issues like pests, mold and level of cleanliness, not the formal restaurant inspection.
“We will also require all approved chefs to secure a food handlers card,” Cirak added. “At that stage, they can post their menus on the app.”
Like Uber and Airbnb, Gigamunch will employ an evaluation system for food buyers to evaluate the food they order and eat.
A key hurdle the start-up had to address was making sure it was not violating Tennessee laws.
“You should be fine as long as you do not have any employees, you do not place paid advertising, and your sales are only occasional.” Brown said in explaining the home catering regulations.
Gigamunch avoids the second restriction by not charging chefs who are listed on the app. Instead, all transactions are handled through the app, and the start-up takes a percentage of the sales as its fee.
For delivery, the company has entered into a partnership with Rush, a Nashville-based bicycle delivery service, and is finalizing arrangements with several other companies.
Brown and Cirak have even been entrepreneurial in their approach to the launch. Both are engineering students who have structured a unique arrangement – they are co-op students, working for Gigamunch. As such, they are still college students getting college credits.
How long will they be in Beta land?
“We’ll be getting feedback from our Beta users until mid-May, then we’ll go live for all users,” Brown says.
Both Cirak and Brown sing the praises of the team at The Biz Foundry. “They have been incredibly beneficial,” Brown says.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After the article was finalized, Gigamunch competed in and won Tennessee Tech University’s “Eagle Works Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition” for the second year in a row. See the article that follows.