Stephanie and Aashi are the right people to tackle this business. They've shown great traction and have been able to connect with the right people to take make this idea take off. Definitely one to watch.
Traveling Spoon is one of the brightest start=ups to come out of the Berkeley entrepreneurship program in the past year. Aashi and Stephanie are the ideal co-founders and a pair that have the smarts, creativity and perseverance to build a great company. The will change the way we experience food when we travel.
Traveling Spoon is an online marketplace that connects travelers with vetted, authentic food experiences – from cooking class to homemade meals – in people’s homes around the world. It provides travelers with meaningful experiences and cultural exchange, and local hosts the opportunity to interact with foreign travelers while making an income.
Traveling Spoon is a fast-growing startup based in San Francisco that connects travelers with authentic food experiences -- from homemade meals to cooking classes -- in people's homes around the world. They launched in July 2013 with 65 curated, vetted hosts in India, Thailand and Vietnam, and are expanding with experiences in China and Japan soon.
The mission behind Traveling Spoon is to facilitate meaningful travel experiences by connecting travelers with local people, in their homes, around food.
Aashi Vel is a food and travel enthusiast with a deep passion for creative problem-solving and culinary innovation. Aashi brings 11 years of experience as a design professional. Her expertise in user-centered research, and experience in product development enables her to transform consumer insights into marketable products. A patent holder, Aashi has designed products that have received the IDEA, Good Buy, and Institute of Packaging Professionals awards. Aashi is a magna cum laude graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design and received her MBA from the Haas School of Business.
Steph Lawrence brings a background in marketing and business strategy and a depth of experience in the social sector, where she spent five years as a non-profit consultant focusing on emerging markets. She has launched a number of successful websites and marketing campaigns, most recently working with Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Foundation to develop their national rebranding campaign. An award-winning food blogger, Steph graduated with honors from Dartmouth College and received her MBA with honors from the Haas School of Business.
Traveling Spoon has a strong team of advisors who bring expertise in key areas:
Alice Waters – Chef, owner of Chez Panisse responsible for pioneering California cuisine believes that “Traveling Spoon is a brilliant idea. The world needs it.”
Keval Desai – Partner at Interwest, former Google employee was a mentor during the Lean LaunchPad program and continues to be a staunch supporter.
James Yu - Co-founder of Parse, acquired by Facebook is Traveling Spoon’s tech guru.
Evan Schneyer – Co-founder of Wanderfly, acquired by TripAdvisor brings tons of expertise in the travel industry.
Amit Khanna – Associate at Fenwick & West, specializing in entrepreneurial law, has donated his time and legal counsel to Traveling Spoon.
Traveling Spoon is an online marketplace that connects travelers with vetted, local and authentic food experiences – from cooking class to homemade meals – in people’s homes around the world. Traveling Spoon aims to create a shareable economy – an alternative to traditional restaurant experiences that truly allows travelers to experience local culture and cuisine around the world. It provides travelers with meaningful experiences and cultural exchange, and local hosts the opportunity to interact with travelers from around the world while making an income.
Traveling Spoon is a payment intermediary between hosts and travelers. Our preliminary business model is based on a variable commission of up to 40% per transaction. Traveling Spoon plans to layer its revenue with additional brand extension opportunities such as cookbooks and culinary travel guides, specialty food items and cooking accessories, and through auxiliary financial products and services such as travel insurance.
Traveling Spoon has over 65 vetted hosts across 15 different cities in India, Thailand and Vietnam. Four weeks following the website launch, Traveling Spoon has hit $1,000/month in revenue serving 15 customers. We have booked a total of 50 dinners, and are processing an additional 40 reservations for the upcoming travel season in India. We are committed to driving scale in a low-cost way through our channels and have already established partnerships with 3 major channels that include tour operators and Destination Management Companies (DMCs). Traveling Spoon was accepted into and successfully completed Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad program. We recently won the Berkeley Venture Lab competition winner and received $12,000 in non-dilutive prize money. We have a growing online community of over 1,000 travelers and strong advisors that include key industry figures in the food and technology space, such as Alice Waters.
Traveling Spoon has a three-pronged approach to maintaining its competitive advantage in the culinary shared-economy space. First, Traveling Spoon has developed exclusive contracts with its channel partners and has been rewarded by being a first-mover in the industry. Channel partnerships with tour operators (destination management companies including Immersion Journeys and Pierce and Leslie) and experience aggregators (e.g. Viator) drive 50% of Traveling Spoon's reservations. By maintaining exclusive contracts with these entities Traveling Spoon is able to protect its primary traffic source.
Secondly, Traveling Spoon has made strategic brand aligning decisions to elevate its status as the source for authentic culinary experiences through strong endorsements from and an advisory relationship with Alice Waters and Slow Food International. Such strategic relationships position Traveling Spoon as the exclusive provider of such experiences. We are looking to extend these brand endorsements with additional chefs and organizations aligned with our brand including Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton and The Food Network.
Finally, Traveling Spoon has a competitive advantage in being the first mover to dominate the Asian culinary market. Other competitors have a dispersed, global presence with experiences focused in the United States and Europe. Traveling Spoon is the first mover in Asia and is committed to complete ownership and understanding of that market. We feel strongly that establishing our brand in this location first is a compelling strategic decision as the low cost of doing business enables us to capture margins up to 40%, and there is a compelling pain point for westerners traveling in Asia who lack the language skills and local knowledge to access the kinds of authentic experiences they seek.