Like many great ideas, menu aid Born out of a need to solve personal problems. MenuAid founders and CEOs and partners in life Toby Skilton and Elise Hilliam, both of whom love to cook, were too busy cooking dinners to make an equal number of recipes. . They fell into a rut and decided to seek help from artificial intelligence.
“We’ve tried meal kits that offer great service. But they’re expensive and lack personalization,” says Skilton. “There’s also the issue of sustainability. They use a lot of plastic. We realized there was a huge opportunity to do something in-between, helping with meal planning but also with an element of personalization.”
Launching in September 2021, MenuAid is exactly what the name suggests, a tool that helps busy people plan their dinner week. When you sign up for MenuAid, the platform starts learning what’s important about food, how you cook, your dietary restrictions, and more. MenuAid uses AI to select 5 good recipes each week. It also displays a shopping list of ingredients. You can also have your purchases delivered to your home.
“Through AI, we can collect data points that are personalized to each user’s preferences, from meal choices to favorite brands to weekly staples. It means different skills, brand preferences,” says Skilton.
“This personalization is central to our customer retention strategy.”
Good ideas and entrepreneurial spirit are nothing new to Skilton, who has successfully launched several ventures over the years. His first company was his company Scarfie Repairs, which Skilton founded while studying at the University of Otago.
“It was a completely student-run business. So Elise and I started traveling abroad.”
In between entrepreneurial adventures, Skilton had another kind of adventure. He has spent the last eight years working in South Africa as a park his ranger on and off. “I was able to support the world’s first research and biodiversity project on lions, hyenas, cheetahs and many other African animals. It was amazing.”
The couple initially funded MenuAid themselves and later raised money through Sprout Agritech, with angel investors on board. This raised about $1 million and allowed Skilton and Hilliam to grow the team from her six to her thirteen.
The challenge now is to personalize MenuAid as much as possible. “Food is really personal. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. We are a small but mighty team, but building a platform that caters to the needs of the masses is difficult. We currently have 500 recipes in our database, and we need 5,000 for full personalization,” says Skilton.
The pair plans to raise more capital to reach $1 million in annual revenue in February 2023 and hopes to attract more investors.
“This allows us to build a recommendation engine and greatly improve customer satisfaction,” says Skilton.
It’s no surprise that Skilton gives a lot of encouragement to other would-be entrepreneurs with great ideas.
“The New Zealand startup ecosystem is very inclusive. We are at a unique stage where everyone at all levels of society can find startup support. Look for startup hubs wherever you are. To help you plan your idea, and there are plenty of free resources online, most entrepreneurs who have an idea work on it outside of work and then have to decide between a job and a startup. We reach a tipping point where we must
“Once you get to that point, you have to do it. What do you have to lose?”
Story by Anne-Marie Emerson.in cooperation with sprout.
Innovation Nation is a series celebrating stories of innovation and diversity in entrepreneurship across New Zealand.
https://nzentrepreneur.co.nz/dont-know-what-to-cook-for-dinner-tonight-menuaid-ai-makes-the-decision-easy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-know-what-to-cook-for-dinner-tonight-menuaid-ai-makes-the-decision-easy Not sure what to make for dinner tonight? MenuAid AI makes decision making easier – NZ Entrepreneur Magazine