ComeCasero was an online marketplace for homemade food. The goal was to contact people who were passionate about cooking with those who wanted to order something to eat. It was a healthy and homey alternative to order food.
I had a problem that I believed many like me shared: I was living alone, working, and getting home late. I did not have the time or will to do the shopping and cook every day. I was tired of pizza, sushi, and other delivery options. I thought that buying a serving of my neighbors' cooking would be a great solution to my problem, and that technology could be the tool to facilitate this transaction
I had to validate two things. First, that there were people willings to cook and sell their dishes.
Second, that prospective customers, like me, were willing to buy food from strangers. I searched on
MercadoLibre (eBay from LATAM) and found that there were many people offering homemade food.
It was clearly not the appropriate platform for that trade. I contacted 10 cooks and interviewed them one by one. Then, I gathered some friends of mine and interviewed them to find out whether they had the same problem as I did.
Luckily, the idea of ordering homemade food from strangers was not something that seemed awkward for them. I even set up a prototype in which I contacted some of those cooks with my friends in a WhatsApp group and they closed some sales straightaway.
Here, some wireframes of our concept
I needed someone to manage the operations and recruitment of cooks, and someone that had the technical skills to develop the first version of the site. I found the former in my boss. I offered him the opportunity to be a partner and he accepted. For the technical part, I pitched to various developers and, luckily, the best among them came on board
While working on the first version, I pitched to 500 Startups and they decided to invest in us. We then launched our product in Mexico City, which was a very attractive market because of its size and the limited options for online of online food markets.
We launched and stayed in business for some months.
We realized that food delivery was far more complex that we initially though,
even more for amateur cooks. Customers often got their dishes cold and shaken,
which resulted in a bad experience. Logistics made our dishes a bit expensive
and we did not have much differentiation from other options in the city since
home-made food is readily available in food trucks or little independent restaurants.
We later pivoted our product to a newsletter in which each and everyday we would send three different dishes that we recommended from nearby restaurants. Customers could choose one and we would deliver it to their workplace. By this time, the CTO had left the company and we were not able to code, so we bootstrapped this using Mailchimp, and we would receive orders by email. While we had come very surprising insights (like the incredibly high open-rate when we sent the email near lunchtime, and how people loved to have pictures of food sent to their mailbox), we decided to close the business because we did not have a clear picture of how we would monetize, and we still had the problem of the expensive, and very demanding, food logistics.
I wrote a detailed PostMortem here. (Spanish)