Many more evenings than I’d like to admit, I find myself standing in front of the refrigerator, contemplating what can be concocted from a bottle of mustard, half a tomato and a cut of mystery meat I’d forgotten was in there, making me question its viability as a meal option. The dinner dilemma is inevitable.
I am not alone in my weekly conundrum, though – this is an issue every household confronts, whether families, couples or singles. And while it’s not a question of life or death, it’s certainly annoying – annoying enough, in fact, that a new startup has popped up looking to do something about it: Igluu.
Igluu is a website designed around the idea of solving the problem of meal time and minimizing the daily stress surrounding deciding what to eat. The platform helps users to build meal plans, over time learning behaviors and suggesting ideas. It also sets up shopping lists based on the recipes chosen, which can printed for offline use or be used for purchase online at select grocery stores. On the backend, Igluu has a dashboard for chefs to upload and organize recipes and interact.
Igluu is another startup based on the freemium principal – those using the platform free of charge have access to a number of Igluu’s features, but they will soon be offered the possibility of paid extras, such as chef subscriptions, video content with step-by-step instructions, nutritional information and preferred brands. The company also receives commissions stemming from supermarket sales, advertising, sponsored recipes and market information.
Igluu founder João Leal took the time out to fill PulsoSocial in on this up-and-coming food startup.
PS: How did the idea for Igluu come about?
Igluu is an idea that I had four years ago based on an everyday problem: my pantry was always empty. The original idea was add a barcode scanner close to the trashcan, so before throwing away any product, people could scan the barcode and automatically generate an order. Thus, people would have an online shopping list. Because of the high cost of this hardware, this idea was put on hold until I saw the first barcode scanner for the iPhone. With that, the first version of Igluu was born: A shared shopping cart for the whole house, which allows everyone to add products by scanning the barcode on the web or via mobile to set up a shopping list.
We launched this product, and after a lot of research and feedback from our users, we discovered that people have one main problem before buying groceries: deciding what to eat each day. If they don’t know what they want to eat, they don’t have any idea about what to buy. So, we pivoted our product to help people minimize their daily stress regarding the decision about what to eat each day.
PS: What is the setup of your current team, and what is your business strategy?
Today our team is made up of six “Eskimos” (inside joke thanks to the Igluu name)… We have great people in all of the areas that we need to build our product quickly. Our team is our best asset. We always have in mind the lean strategy, which is what drives our efforts.
We also have partnerships with a lot of content creators including chefs, food bloggers, and recipe websites. With this content, we can offer the right recipes for our users. We also have partnerships with supermarkets that are interested in selling goods online and can deal with the logistics of doing so. We are creating a huge community around the food space where people can share knowledge and help each other.
PS: You’ve been working with accelerator 21212. What have you gained from the experience thus far, and what do you expect to come of it in the future?
We met a lot of great and amazing entrepreneurs in this process, from the 21212 staff to the companies in the program. Moreover, we met a lot of investors, which helped us to get in touch with our first angel investor (with this money we can survive). We also had workshops and keynotes with awesome entrepreneurs, sharing knowledge and helping us with specific tips. The accelerator had a big role in helping us to build our team. It was so much easier to attract great people to work with us being inside 21212 offices.
PS: Up to now, you’ve rolled out only some of the features you have planned for Igluu. What’s up next?
Soon, we will be launching a new killer and innovative feature, which solve the problem of meal time in a different way, helping people to find something to eat with the ingredients they already have in their pantries. Users just need to tell us what they have, and Igluu will find recipes that they can make without buying anything else. All the recipes are selected based on their preferences as well. The results are amazing!
PS: What about the Brazilian startup ecosystem and economy has rendered it a good fit for Igluu?
The Brazilian startup ecosystem is improving, and the number of great companies and entrepreneurs is growing a lot. However, it is still hard to find good professionals in specific areas with an entrepreneur’s vision. With respect to the volume of investment, we need more knowledgeable people here who can aid not only in monetary investment but also in mentorship. This movement has already started and we are here to help as well. We need to create a community with an innovative vision as soon as possible.
Igluu’s plans, however, go beyond the Brazilian border and even Latin America: in the not-so-far-off future, Leal and his team will be evaluating possibilities in the U.S. Igluu already has a North American collaborator on the table and is optimistic about building partnerships with content providers and supermarkets there. Leal also indicated Europe as a market for expansion down the line.
Igluu is a prime example of an evolving platform based around a single problem: What’s for dinner? This year and next, the Igluu team will continue to develop various solutions, getting to know its users better than anyone when it comes to the subject of food and being as helpful as possible when decision-making time rolls around.