Dining Room 

What’s NEXT Episode 22: Bringing inspiration to your dining room table with Whisk

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[Music]hello and welcome to what's next thepodcast where we talk about thetechnology the future and what it meansfor us today I'm your host Ryan Lawlerevery day people all over the world arefaced with the same question what am Igoing to eatwisk has created a platform that helpsinspire consumers by introducing them tonew publishers and recipes and itstreamlines the process of shopping forthe food they need to create those mealstoday I'm talking to Nick Holzer CEO ofwhisk about how his company is changingthe way people get inspired around thefood they eat every day so today we'rehere with Nick Holzer who's the founderwhisk and a new part of the Samsung Xproduct organization thank you forhaving me thanks for joining us so tostart maybe tell us a little bit aboutwhat is whisk whisk is a platform thatconnects users inspiration for foodthrough to the meal on the table so weknow that people spend hours looking atrecipe sites being inspired with whatthey want to eat but there's a lot oftedious manual tasks between that andactually having a meal on the table andwhat that and we can see that in some ofthe data people are cooking the 79recipes on repeat and they're not newthings that they've been inspired by sothat's kind of a fundamental problemwe're trying out these as well users cancreate a shopping list from what theywant to from their inspiration fromtheir recipes they can save recipes intoa recipe box and they can purchase themfrom the grocery retailers that we haveintegrated so let's say you're aconsumer and you are looking for a youknow new meal idea and you come acrosswhisk what do you do next or what's thenext part of the consumer journey yeahso take a user they have found a recipeon the recipe site they click Save saveit into that recipe boxI have many recipes in my first box thatI've saved from all over the web I mightadd my own recipe from a physicalcookbook I have in my kitchen or itmight even be recipe that I've made upor I've received for my family which Ialso save into this recipe box and thenI might go toa site to search for someone's comingaround the weekend I want to cook agreat dishI go to risk me site find that recipeadd it to a shopping list and then goyou know what actually I'll add someother recipes things I what else do Iwant to cook in the next weekyou go to your recipe box you see allthe things you've saved over thepreceding months or years and you figureout that a few of them actually I've gotdeals and store there is good time tocook them add them to my shopping listtake that list into store and if I don'tchoose to buy it online the shoppinglist is organized into aisles so itmakes it easy for me to tick off as Iwalk through that store so I don't haveto kind of go back and forth and zigzaglike I used to do and I get home I'vegot a simple straightforward access toall the recipes I've just bought so Idon't have to your own research for themon the web I can start the cookingprocess and the resulting recipes in theresulting meals and the time it's takingme is significantly better than it wouldhave been without risk whereas thisrecipe box live is it on risk calm is iton an app the recipe box lives whereverI've signed in with whisk or anauthenticating account so that recipebox lives on every publisher site thatwe have integrated it lives on onfridges which we have integrated sofridges with screens on them it lives onan app a web app my dog was calm itbasically lives Wow it also has on somehealth companies sites that we poweranywhere where the risk food identity isused you can access that pull down thatlist of safe recipes so we're notallowed pressures about where you'reaccessing it will basically make it easyfor you you access it wherever you wantto be accessing your favorite recipesyou have a consumer facing app but thenwhat's happening czar behind the scenesto actually enable that we haveintegrations on loads of differentrecipe sites we've basically taking theapproach off we definitely don't want tobe in the inspiration space so we don'twant to be a rescue publisher there'sthousands of people doing that reallyreally well already so the bit that wewant to do is help people take thatinspiration through to the meal andtable so we integrate with other peopleso we have integrations on thousands ofthird-party recipe sites so we run abouttwo million recipes those recipes getabout half a billion monthlyimpressions and going to we're all abouttechnology sits across all thesedifferent sites so users click from thatand then even open up a wisk shoppinglist from that kind of initialinspiration piece and we do have a b2capp as well so people can go and thenview that recipe later in ourapplication and but often they'll alsoget back to the publisher where they orany of the publishers we have in ournetwork the platform's also kind of auniversal shopping list so you can getfrom one publisher to the next and to adifferent platform and different surfaceand it'll always be your shopping isbasically follows you around so you canadd from anywhere into one place becausewe also realize most people won't wantto shop just from one single publisherso because we are trying to connect sucha diverse set of recipe publishers anddifferent formats of recipes so it's notjust digital recipes it's also printedbooks and long-term TV shows and allsorts of different things are going toconnect where wherever people getinspired essentially the challengetechnically to understand all of thatcontent so different publishers have gotdifferent ways of writing their contentthey structure it differently on thepage they use very different types ofingredients even so the technologybehind the platform essentially ismapping all of that content into a ouruniversal language which we have thisontology which we call our food genomeso use natural language processing tobasically map all this content onto thisfood genome and that's got thefoundation of how the whole platformworks and when you talk about the foodgenome what does that actually meanlike what's the data that you'recollecting and what can you do with thatwe have this ontology of all thedifferent products that exist in theworld of food on each of those items wehave nutrition we have perishability sohow long does it last you put it in thefridge freezer or pantry we have whereyou can buy it from so we map all thegrocery store items from the differentgrocery retailers around the world ontothis ontology so we know what the priceis we know what the availability is weknow information around categories itfits into flavor how it tastes soessentially what we we understand fromevery recipe when we map it onto thefood genome we suddenly understandthere's a whole bunch of additionalmetadata around what is the nutrition ofthis whole recipe because we know we weknow the amounts of each ingredient weknow what the ingredients are on thefood genome we know what the price ofthe recipe is we can start to infer awhole bunch of tags nutrition based tagsbut also health based tagsbut also cuisines and how long it'sgonna take and a whole bunch ofdifferent things so that ontology we'rekind of building up year-on-year we'vebeen building that ontology for abouteight years nowEnglish is the global language wereusing but we're also mapping on eightother languages today with plans toexpand that so we can do exactly thesame thing in German in Korean inItalian French which basically means theunit that we have to kind of buildtechnology-wise go into any language isjust a natural language processing so wecan map it onto this food genome once wehave the food genome then everythingelse kind of comes for free you can seethe reason and connect always contentthat people are looking at that's gotthe background of it but you know from auser perspective what we want to deliveris not users don't know any of thatexists right it just needs to be aseamless experience any recipe and Iwant to come and take itand I get the same exceed thisexperience it takes me through to the tothe kitchen okayyou mentioned publishers you mentionedretailerswhat other partners do you have forintegrations do you have along the wayyeah so it's a cover it works as amarketplace so very broadly there arefive groups so publishers retailers CPGbrands IOT companies and healthcompanies the reason we talk about it asa marketplace is so we integrate Imentioned these two million recipes withabout 11 12 retailers some of thoseretailers are in multiple countries inour platform so we operate in us ourbiggest market and we have Germany UKAustralia and a few other markets thatwe have we have integrations withretailers so we essentially when apublisher integrates us on their sitethey're integrating us sure because wehave a good shopping list and it workswell but also because we have always andactually very importantly because wehave all these integrations withretailers so they all benefit they doone integration into wiskput the shopping list on their site andthen they are automatically connected inall the different markets we're in toall the retailers we have which meansour user can go I want to cook thisrecipe click it they'll find me theright products from the retailer I canfill my basket in the retailer and buyitso and then it works our way around - sofrom a retailer perspective the reasonthey want to go and integrate with whiskis because we have that scale ofpublishers so there you can integrateonce into whisk and they'll appear onall these different publisher sitesand in the rest of it kind of works verymuch the city in the same way so samething works for CPG brands they want tobe able to also connect their differentcontent types they have which might beanything from recipes on their site toads or social media posts and also scrapiot companies want to essentially havethe full breadth of items so helpingusers get away from recipes to you knowconnecting to the digital appliances intheir kitchens or they can cook therecipe properly and then healthcompanies they have you know nutritionand what you eat is a huge influence onhow healthy you are and there are a lotof problems because of people's lack ofinformation around what they're eatingand so they essentially use us a lotaround from the data from that kind offood food genome side of things ofunderstanding what is the nutrition ofevery recipe and what should I showusers and what kind of recommendations4sp should I use so we gotta have twosides of the business we have this userfacing a food identity which is where auser can save their shopping list theirrecipe box their preferences and theycan kind of take it around the web withthem then we have this business b2b APIside which is the platform essentiallyhelps businesses build their own smartfood experiences so there's a lot inthat I'm kind of wondering when you talkabout marketplace like that and of thatscale it's one thing when you have youknow however many millions of recipes onyour platform and then you can go andsay to a retailer we have this criticalmass of content that we can match upagainst the products that you can sellon the flip side you know you can saythe publishers now this is a way to helpmonetize the content that you alreadyhave but when you got started I imaginethat was big problem so how did you getpublishers on board how did you getretailers on board how did you solvethat chicken and egg problem it's agreat question and actually it took us awhile so you know we started in 2012 ittook us probably a year to get the firstpublisher and get the first retailer ofoff size so we started off with smallblogs and then we eventually got foodnetwork cut at UK and the UK version offood network to agreeand that was a long sales process maybesix months the traffic was you knowsmall compared to what we're workingwith today but for us at the time washuge and then we had one retailer andthen slowly over the years we built upand then about two years ago we werelike okay we have enough steel in the UKnow scale around the world and startedworking in the US and in Germany and inother countries and what we foundactually also there was an accelerationof whole grocery market at that time sothere's a lot more interest for it butwe had kind of established ourselves asthe market leader in doing this and hadthat kind of minimum viable marketplacein place that said the marketplace doeskind of almost operate on our regionalbasis so you know UK publishers careabout UK retailers and us publisherscare about US retailers and so in lotother markets we need to fund it we needto integrate one of the sides first andthen and have someone needs to kind of aleap of faith that's becomesignificantly easier in the last twothree four years as we have scale aswe've kind of got models that we'veproven out we can show them the data ofhow it works in other sites it's it'sdefinitely definitely become easier andyou can see that in the scale as well soyou know I mentioned we have half abillion recipe impressions that westarted off with maybe a million recipeimpressions so a fraction of what wehave today and the line to where we aretoday is definitely kind of if you lookat the graph is hockey stick shaped it'snot it's not kind of slow andincremental got it when you think aboutpublishers a lot of them are very brandsensitive they don't necessarily want tobe aggregated or seen as piled in with awhole bunch of other recipes or brandshow do you get them over those concernsfor a publisher they get two things theyget first they get the functionality ofthe shopping list and we spent on recipebox when we spend a lot of timeperfecting that so they get someadvanced functionality that takes themthrough to grocery retailers which wouldtake significant technical resources totry and build himself as part of thathaving that function in their siteallows them to monetize the rest of sitemore effectively because some of the bigadvertisers want note the fact they usego to purchase is valuable for them andthen the second thing they get is thefact that we monetize that for them soretailers pay us for a percentage of thetransaction and advertisers advertisewithin the solution on the publishersite we have some space some real estateon the publisher site and we allow thoseads to follow the consumer along thepath to purchase all the way into storenow according them ads because this isthe simplest way to describe them butactually they're much more they're verycontextual and they're more likesponsored products so something youmight recognize on you know googleshopping if you do a google search for aproduct you'll see a bunch of productspop up first it's a little bit like thatbut actually really we try and make themreally relevant to the user and helpfulso you know if it's about a sugary drinkcompany advertising to try to pushsugary drinks on to every singlecustomer that might want it we try anddisincentivize that and actually try andincentivize people who want to showusers products introduce people theproducts are actually valuable to theirlife and help that meal occasion or helpthe user and so essential what we bringto the publisher is a new type of ad ornew type of monetization incrementalrevenue which is also very aligned withwhat some of the big CPG brands andadvertisers actually are looking to buythey're looking to buy native adsshopper ads Tropper marketing is kind ofdigital marketing as a whole and youfield and as you see people in grocerystores the kind of end of aisle spaceused to be the valuable space for abrand to be on that's now moving onlineand in that online world what does thatlook likeI think we're part of that can you givean example in in my mind I'm thinkingyou know if you're adding something toyour Sharpie a list the consumerprobably doesn't care what brand ofbutter or whatever and of product getsadded yeah but since it's in context youcan suggest someone that you partnerwith right sure yeah so take an exampleof a recipe let's say you're looking atspaghetti recipe spaghetti bolognaiserecipe and it was a brand that mayTeresa what you can save someone's heydid you know that if you can actuallyadd a whole new taste side to thisrecipe by adding chorizo into therecipes actually a helpful suggestionbut it's paid for another example wouldbe making things healthier so hey thisrecipe requires full fat cream you canactually use this substitute whichdoesn't change the recipe too much andit makes it healthier for you there areloads examples like that you knowcooking utensils is another one youmight need this product to cook thisrecipe some of the recipes are prettycomplex require new equipment so we havelike what about 15 different types ofadds categories of adds that could becreated another popular one fromretailers is price so you're showingthere the best offers or deals that theyhave for a recipe so you're looking at arecipe it's got beef cheese and onion init and retailer can say hey we actuallyhave a weekly deal on beef it's halfprice where we're at and obviouslythat's actually that's right that'suseful for a user and we actually getgreat user feedback from those kind ofpromotions but it's also it is paid forand it does help the retailer so that'skind of there is ways of monetizing thisexperience for publishers the the reasonwhy you know you could ask why doesn'tit whisk need to exist in that X Y can'tthe publishers do that directly rightand the reason is it's it's all aroundscale so we aggregate all thesedifferent publishers in our networkessentially we don't show them next toeach other we don't know move publishersor users from one site to another oranything like that but the reason why weexist in that is for an advertiser theycan say I only wanted my product is beefI've got beef half-price right now Iwant to show on every beef recipe now ifthey were to go and try and broke thoserelationship with every single publishera they would operat be quite small sothey're really targeting a minut setthere and be eventually quite a lot ofwork try and do that and from both sidesit wouldn't really happen so that's kindof where we see actually by aggregatingat least publisher or is user intentessentially into one place we candeliver ads that are suddenly much moreuseful to users because they aretargeted to the occasion and actually wecan also offer a lot more value back tothe advertiser the person paying for itand because of that exact same thing sowe can create revenue that's a higherthan a standard run-of-the-mill add-on apublished site so we've talked a lotabout the business and the technologyhow did you personally get interested inthis my mother could with me from anearly age so we were cooking a lot oftwists Swiss recipes at the time so Ithink I've grown up with cooking I stillcook every day pretty much when I'm nottraveling the other thing was is I'vealways been interested in trying tosolve problems and kind of build thingsto try and solve problems so from theage of 10 I've been building small sitesand apps and websites and buying andselling stuff so I think when I kind ofstarted to have to do my own groceryshopping essentially when I went touniversity I started realized that thiswas something that was kind offrustrating and tedious and manual andthis should be easier because if it waseasier it would give me all thesebenefits and I started playing aroundwith the idea and with a friend of minewe put together a some basic apps to dothis started testing it and this isprobably 2 or 3 years before we actuallyfounded the company and then over theyears got became more and more confidentthis actually could be something and weactually could make something useful andthen decided to go full on with it andquit the other stuff and build thebusiness what are some of the mostsurprising things you learned along thisjourney and founding this company in inrunning risk I think the main one is notto do with the food space but just morewithout running a company is howdifficult it is to actually build abusiness I think when they're going backto the days of no university I thoughtit would be super easy to build well notsuper easy but like I thought it'd berelatively straightforward to build abusiness and make some money and grow itand the reality is every single stage ofthat growth sort of journey they've beendifferent challenges and I think if youlook at think of a graph of emotions ofhow you're feeling in that journey fromsuper excited to you know depressedyou've kind of got this you know knowfrom founding you've got really highmoments of feeling I knowbuild something absolutely amazing it'sawesome and then the reality of wow Ididn't this is all going pear-shaped andI should have just got job or somethingand then a customer signs up and youfeel fantastic again it's all gonna befine and that kind of it is arollercoaster of emotions and I think asyou as you progress the trend does goupwards and yeah I love what I do andI'm super happy that I stuck it out andI am here but it definitely is kind ofan emotional roller coaster which Ididn't expect at all and each stage ofthe journey there are differentchallenges so it's you think you've kindof made it out of you know the firstyou've got through the main stage andyou think yeah I've done it that's finewe're now making money we now yeah we'vebeen profitable for the last few yearsso like we're profitable money's nolonger an issue it's fine and sunny youhit the next stage which is like how doyou scale that and you're like wow it'sreally hard to hire good people and keepthe culture running as you start to growit and then you grow a little bit moreand then your market becomes interestingfor lots of other people and competitorsright arriving and they start copyingyour model and it's like it'sfascinating in it I love that part of itI think I'd be bored if it wasn't likethat but that it was definitelysomething that I didn't I didn't expectI expected it to be much much easierthan it actually has been for me atleastso you recently joined Samsung next aspart of the product organization can youtell me a little bit about how youstarted the relationship with Samsungand why you decided to join us so westarted working with something the firstfirst experience which launched inNovember 2016 at that point it wasessentially putting our app onto thefridge so that people could use thewhisk application there and they couldfor example save a recipe or create ashopping list on publisher site oranywhere on the web and it wouldmagically appear on my fridge which ithink is the first kind of experienceand that was in the UK only Samsung thenwere building out that whole foodexperience with shopping lists mealplanners recipe experiences and came tous and we then ended up powering aglobal rollout of their recipeapplication across eight countries wedid a whole bunch of demos with them seeand IFA and all the big trade shows thatexist that was about a year and a halfago and then through that kind ofpartnership with with Samsung digitalappliances team in Korea we wereintroduced to something next and for usit was about the team that we have gotto know over the last year a year and ahalfsuper talented they're some of the bestminds in Silicon Valley working for thatteam and we're like well actuallylearning from that team being able tokind of have all those people alsohelped us grow as well as of theadditional resources that Samsung bringswith acquiring a team and adding ontothat the scale of Samsung theopportunity to base-2 to collaboratewith a company like that I think thereis so much we're so relevant to so manydifferent places of Samsung but reallyalso the sounds of next team and theresources I think made it kind of agreat opportunity for us as a team totake so how will the future be differentif wisk becomes widely adopted or morewidely adopted I should say yeah I thinkthe future from like a macro humanitypoint of view will have less peopleeating seven to nine recipes on repeatbeing bored of their food I thinkthere'll be less waste in the worldso we waste huge amounts of food everysingle month yeah it's incredible howmany tons of food are thrown away sowe'll waste less we will be eatinghealthier which i think is incrediblyimportant for individuals and for theworld so I think that's kind of a few ofthe areas there are I think in food it'ssuch a complex and deeps of space whichI she makes I think we're really luckyto be working such an interesting spacebecause it makes hiring so much easierbecause everyone's like wow yeah I wantto work for a food startup whereas maybea few years ago the opposite would havebeen true of saying hey you want to comeand work in a bank or something so ifyou weren't doing this is there an areaof tech or outside of tech that youwould be interested in working in thatyou're excited about or bullish on I'mactually pretty passionate about whatI'm doing right now so I think for thetime being at least that that would be II haven't got any other ideas but what Iwould say in terms ofareas outside of what I'm doing that Ithink I'm really impressed with andexcited about digital banking is cominga long way I think banks are reallyarchaic in how things are being done andthe experience as a user the traditionalbank is is is is really painful a lot ofthe time as a business as well so I'msuper excited about that I'm alsoexcited about the impact that thestartups are having on the traditionalbanks because I think what will happennext is they will or is that alreadyhappening is that big banks are wakingup to this and at the moment it feelslike they're paying catch-up all and thestuff doesn't feel like a genuineexperience I really think is competingagainst the big startups that are doingthis but these banks have so manyresources and they will I'm confidentthey will wake up and they will buildgood experiences and I think that from auser perspective that's super excitingbecause as in from a from a digital techbanking startup maybe that's a knock onsomething I really want to think abouttoo much but from a user perspectivethat's exciting because I'm gonna begetting better experiences that know mebetter provide many services that aremuch easier to use I as a user will nothave to waste as much climb in banks andall these different things so and thankyou just one example I think most ofthese old institutions that we use willbe quickly disrupted by technology and Ithink that's great that's great for anyuser so a final question you mentionedthat you cook a lot practically everyday what's your go-to recipe or what'syour favorite food and if they're notthe same what are they um they are thesame the things that I like I'll thinkalso things that I cook or least attemptto cook I have to say part of that isSwiss food just because I think everyonelikes the foods they grew up with withyou know mother or grandmother orwhatever cooking for them typically Ilove cooking Swiss food I would say Ilove Japanese food a lot of theSoutheast Asian countries I think havesome amazing food I love Indian foodum it's often vegetarian it's healthyyou feel great after you've eaten it notterrible some of the other foods I likeso I think I wouldn't say like whatexactly like particular food all thetime I feel like I like varietyactually maybe in a funny way he's kindof comes back and thought 79 recipes onrepeatingI'm I like using different types of foodwell thanks for joining us today thankyou having me thanks again for listeningto what's next we release a new episodeevery other week so be sure to subscriberate and review just search for what'snext on your app of choice or go tosamsung next comm slash podcast I'm yourhost Ryan Lawler this episode of what'snext was produced by Rachel King LauraFlynn and Eliza Lambert with ClaireMullen as sound engineer for pot peopleif you have questions or suggestionswe'd love to hear from you get in touchon Twitter at Samsung next or send us anemail to podcast at Samsung next calmuntil next time[Music]

How Whisk’s food genome enables a modern dining experience

Welcome back to What’s NEXT, the podcast exploring the future of technology. In this episode, host Ryan Lawler talks with Whisk’s founder Nick Holzherr about how his company connects consumers with food publishers, retailers, and digital health companies to inspire them to create delicious and healthy new meals. Plus: The benefits of joining the Samsung NEXT Product Team!

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