Nick created Whisk a free, smart app that turns recipes into handy shopping lists that you can access anywhere, anytime.
Q: Could you describe your inspiration for Whisk? What drove you to step outside the everyday and try something different?
A: High level, I think that people have very different food tastes and if you can understand those food tastes in an automated way, I think you can use technology to enhance the way people search, buy and enjoy food. I think food is so important in all our lives. It affects how much money we spend. We spend a lot of our money on food. It’s important for health; what’s the nutritional content of what you are eating? It’s also a source, for many people, and myself in particular, of enjoyment.
I absolutely love food. I’d much rather have brilliant meals than drinks in the pub or something. On that kind of basis, I believe we can build amazing experiences in food. Yes, we have a shopping list now. I think there’s a load of other things we can do on top of the shopping list tool that we have. I think that’s what makes me excited about coming to work every day and building what we’re doing.
Q: So your app is free – in what ways do you manage to generate revenue without asking users to pay a fee?
A: Whisk is free. It’s free in the App Stores. It’s free online at Whisk.com. We generate revenue form advertising. Brands like food manufacturing brands advertise what we call purchase intent. Purchase intent is you’re on a recipe, you want some food content and your product is required to cook that recipe.
So an example would be that you sell stock cubes. You want to advertise to people looking for stock cubes. We have loads of different recipes that our technology is on. So third party recipe sites, and a brand can target that purchase intent on those recipe sites through Whisk.
We then have something called the path to purchase which is essentially, when you see an advert, how do you go and buy that product? We’re obviously a shopping list, so we’re ideally suited to that. So when you see an advert on a recipe site you can click it and it opens up a shopping list. You can then send that shopping list into an online store or you can take it physically into a store with you and we charge brands to place their adverts for their products into the recipe and along that path to purchase. As a result, our advertising opportunities are about ten times more effective than what you would see on the market.
Q: Where do you see Whisk going next – what’s the future for the app?
A: So, half a year ago, we were only live in England. We’re now available in five languages, eight countries. So you can now find Whisk on big recipe sites in Australia, the US, France, Germany, Poland, Quebec, Argentina, Mexico and other places all over the world.
It’s about doing exactly what we’ve done here, doing it better, so with better UX with better recommendations to the users but doing it in more places. Working with a lot more publishers so you can come across our technology in a lot more different recipe publishers, and having a lot more advertisers and brands working with us to promote their products so we can grow revenues.
Q: Whisk has grown considerably in the past few years – how did you build your business so quickly? What advice would you give to others based on your experience of building Whisk?
A: I think it’s absolutely critical to plan your business before you do it. So making sure there’s a market for it. Making sure that the market is big enough to be interesting from a business point of view as well. It’s sounds very obvious but it’s actually pretty easy to get wrong.
Once you’ve got that there are lots of investor ready to back you. There’s loads of money out there but you do need to have a good concept that is scalable, for yourself actually as much as for the investors because you don’t want to be wasting years of your life building a business that doesn’t make sense.
The way we scaled was through investment form Angel Investors and from institutional investors. We’ve raised about £2 million to date. About £1.2 million has come from a variety of investors, some in Birmingham, some in London, and some larger companies. It’s allowed us to hire some brilliant people who can help us grow the business much more quickly and that’s absolutely critical.
Q: Obviously, you have a personal love of food which has informed Whisk. What are your favourite dishes? - And if you are being honest, are you a good cook?
A: I think it’s very hard to be your own judge of whether you are a good cook. I think I am a good cook. I’m being very biased here. People around me tell me I’m really good at cooking. My favourite dishes vary massively depending on what the weather is and the weather has a big impact on what you eat as well; especially the seasons.
On a more macro level, I’m half Swiss so I love Swiss food. In the winter, I love slow cooked food. Especially at the moment we’ve got a massive craze in England where we’ve got pulled pork everywhere and great hoppy beers and that’s fantastic. I love the concept of pairing beer and wine with food as well. I think that’s another thing I love doing.