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CookHoods - the interview

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by Startacus Admin

cookhooodsThis week we were hungry for an original startup story that we could really get our teeth into. To our delight we came across a fab new social enterprise called CookHoods, which aside from providing an innovative and inspiring story, gives us endless possibilities for cooking related puns…lovely!

The folks at CookHoods are hoping to cause quite a stir with their new online community aimed at helping people share their home-cooked foods with others in their neighbourhood. As you will see, they are bringing lots to the table and have managed to whip up considerable interest recently with their exciting and innovative idea which is anything but half baked.

Do they have the recipe for success? We’ll let you decide...over to find out some more from CookHoods Director, and recent self starter of the week, Rebecca Clarke:

Hi there Rebecca! So first off why don't you tell us a little bit about CookHoods? What's it all about and where did the idea come from?

CookHoods is a online community marketplace that will enable people to sell homemade edible goodies, such as breads, preserves, batch soups, as well as fresh urban produce, to hungry neighbours. It's about empowering people to cook from scratch and using food to foster community.

Together with this, there will be monthly cookery development workshops where more confident cooks and bakers share their skills to build the confidence and knowledge of neighbours who can then join the marketplace as cooks - making it full circle engagement. We also hope to work with local growers who have larger plots of land to create a local supply-chain of fresh UK seasonal produce for the cooks to source their ingredients from.

The idea came from quite a few conversations with my brother and my girlfriend, and my drive to be part of a local solution to counter the status quo of the current food system. The key moment was over a picnic on an unusually warm spring day in St. James’ Park, it just made so much sense! There is a growing demand for real local food, a growing skills gap in people knowing how to cook and a growing population of people who are underemployed.

We see that the website (which from the holding page alone looks as if it will be great) is 'coming soon', how soon? And what can people expect when it does go live?

We're glad to hear that you're a fan of our holding page. It was designed by a good friend of mine who is an animator and designer, Claire Pinegar! At the moment we are working on developing a pilot in an area of London with a range of exciting partners, which will be going live early 2014. Do sign up if you want to be part of the CookHoods community, either as a cook or a hungry neighbour! You could also be in with a chance of being part of the pilot.

Who are you aiming CookHoods at? Well seasoned near-professionals or should any old sod have a go?

CookHoods is centred around fostering community and bringing neighbourhoods closer together through local, diverse food, made from scratch and facilitating peer-to-peer skill-sharing of cookery skills. Thus, it's a completely inclusive enterprise, aimed at home cooks and encouraging people to cook from scratch, while earning a supplementary income.

What major pitfalls have you come up against? Has it been difficult to get people to buy into the idea?

We are still a very young enterprise and have had great feedback so far. We are going to be running some focus groups in the coming months, so that will allow us to problem solve!
At this stage it's proving difficult to get funding, although we are staying very positive about this.

We are really keen on innovative and exciting social enterprises, are there any in particular that have inspired you?

Early in my career I was lucky enough to be based at Divine Chocolate's office while working on The London Fairtrade Campaign and be exposed to a number of very passionate, driven women who have played a crucial part in spearheading the Fairtrade movement here in London. I have also been involved in campaigning against food waste and have always admired the work that FoodCycle do with all their truly committed volunteers and Jenny Dawson who set up Rubies in the Rubble, which provides employment and training opportunities while using food that would have otherwise been wasted to create a fab selection of chutneys.

As someone who is currently in the process of starting a social enterprise, is there any advice you could give to someone who has a great idea but is not sure what to do next?

Talk to people about it (not just your friends!), do as much research and reading as possible and go to as many events as you can!

And with that we wish Rebecca, and the rest of the CookHoods team the very best of luck as they continue to cook up a storm and encourage their community to do the same.

If you are a food fanatic or just like hearing about innovative new ideas, you might like to check out these recent Startacus features.

Meantime Brewing Co.- London Urban Farming and Crowdsourced Beer
Manchester Veg People - A New Process in Fresh Produce
Yoosli - Individual Muesli for Individual Folk
GrowUp! - Genius new Urban Farming Techniques

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Published on: 27th October 2013

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