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Chef’d Wants to Be the Amazon of Meal Kits

The delivery service offers customers options aplenty.

Some meal kit companies seem designed for people who don’t want to cook, but Chef’d wants to be the company for turning mouth-watering recipes into reality. Rather than a traditional subscription service with a few choices, Chef’d lets people choose from thousands of different meal kits, ordering the recipes they find tastiest. Quiddity spoke with Chef’d’s CEO and co-founder Kyle Randsford about how it differentiates itself from other meal kit companies.

For a relatively new industry like meal kits ordered via the internet, how important is brand recognition for attracting new customers?
I'd say it's very important. You know all the places that you can get the brand and all the things that give the brand credibility to the consumer certainly helps to induce trial. Then the product creates long-term customers.

How do you establish trust in the brand?
I think it's important to understand how we are completely different than everyone else that you're going to think of in the meal kit space. We're a platform more like an Amazon. We sell 2,000 different meal kits and ours is e-commerce where you can order them any time you want and then you can reorder things that you've liked.

We establish a lot of the trust around the brand based on the partners that work with us. So we work with about 100 different celebrity chefs who have picked our platform because of the quality of the food that we have. And then we work with lots of different brands that are trying to give their consumers the opportunity to buy food as part of their offerings. A New York Times has great recipes, but they're not in the grocery business, so they partner with us to help fulfill for their recipes. For us, the associations and partnering with brands that are already known and trusted is how we build trust with our consumer base.

If you could claim one other brand as your ancestor, which would it be?
Operationally, we're like Amazon. And from a product perspective and innovation approach, we try to think like Apple.

How do customers generally learn about the brand’s heritage?
We’re currently working on a welcome book for our new customers. But traditionally, people are learning about the company and where it was founded through media opportunities.

And what details of your founding story have you found resonated most with customers?
I think that one of the pieces is that there we’re founder-funded and we're not backed by VC's, so we've been very focused on consumer experience and what consumers would want.

Do you focus on specific social media platform for getting the company story out there?
We certainly have a presence on all of them. I think lots of these companies use Facebook because Facebook has some attributes that make marketers be able to justify their jobs a little bit more.

Actually we find Pinterest to be a very useful platform at the moment. They're starting to experiment with Buy buttons and click-through commerce pieces.

I think our view is that if the consumer sees food they’re interested in, it wants a Buy button to say, send it to me. That is the simplest execution. And so the closer that those experiences are, to see something that I can press a button and have it sent to me, the more engaged consumers end up being. On Instagram, I can see the photo, but what do I do then? I have to leave, go to another website, and then look that up and try to find it. Think of all the clicks and steps.

The social platforms that are more directing the discovery experience to a commerce experience are more successful for commercial companies.

Aside from you, who is another key person involved in the company's history who might be particularly notable for your customers?
Jason Triail, our director of culinary. I think we're widely known as having the best food. That’s Jason and the partners that are putting together recipes for us. We don't have just Jason and his culinary team making recipes; We have recipes from some of the greatest chefs in the world. But Jason's team that has helped turn them into meal kits and managed what ingredients we stock.

Are there any other brands that have influenced what you guys do?
FreshDirect is a partner of ours, so we think of ourselves much more like a grocery store where you can find things you like and then buy them again.

How might you frame your business differently for someone who's never ordered food online other than old-fashioned delivery compared to someone who's tried different meal kit companies?
Our service is a platform and there are 2,000 different choices of different types of food from different brands that you may already know and love. You just search for both products and companies that have produced stuff that you've liked in the in the past.

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