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EPIC Startup Team Spotlight | Rooshe

Rooshe is a community-based marketplace that connects local chefs with customers craving homemade food. This multi-sided, innovative platform creates a liaison between adventurous foodies and strictly vetted and talented home chefs. 

Rooshe participated in the EPIC Spring 2021 Incubation Program, offering alternatives to eating out in terms of connecting the customers with home chefs. The idea that lies behind the mission of Rooshe is that customers are able to watch streaming of the meal preparation process and enjoy it as part of eating healthy, homemade meals. 

AUA EPIC has interviewed the Rooshe team to learn more about their operations, upcoming milestones, and the road forward with their startup.

Please tell us about your startup. What products/services do you provide? What is the primary value proposition?

We connect people through food by empowering home chefs to share their culture and passion with the community while simultaneously promoting healthy food with ingredient transparency. 

How is this possible? Our innovative platform will enable customers to choose a chef from a list, see their reviews, recipes, videos from previous orders, and if the food preparation appeals to them, they will be able to order a meal. Once the order is made, customers can watch the streaming of how their dish is prepared, boosting their appetite even more. 

Studies indicate that the process of watching how food is prepared boosts the appetite and eagerness to try out the prepared food. This is particularly true when it comes to children. In case your child has trouble with eating or has a loss of appetite, the platform can be of great help. 

Meanwhile, when they see the streaming of food preparation — they hear the sizzle of the food in the pan, see the process of chocolate melting — their curiosity is aroused, and they go for it.

What is the inspiration behind establishing the startup?

Everything started from the lunch problem in the office. We were sick and tired of the regular fast food options and were in search of healthy alternatives. Out of the blue, we found a random home cook in the neighborhood of our office and ended up trying the food she made. The homemade, fresh, and healthy food appealed to everyone. The food did not need any double heating in the microwave, thus we avoided the drawbacks of the double heating. 

The benefit was reciprocal as the chef herself was rather happy to cooperate with us. Due to our recurring orders from her, she managed to save money and buy a bicycle for her grandson. 

It has already been over three months since we cooperated with this particular home cook. Moreover, the customer range has extended throughout the whole building, beyond our office. There is no delivery service for now, it is a takeaway meal, but this part will be addressed in the near future. 

The concept of Rooshe has been successful around the world. Why do you think it will succeed in Armenia?

The concept of connecting local home cooks with food lovers has been implemented worldwide. Among the top companies are DishDivvy in California, Woodspoon, etc. People preferring homemade dishes to fast food can easily find a local cook near them. They add dishes to the cart, select pickup or delivery, and proceed to checkout. 

It is common knowledge that Armenia has great home cooks, and that they make delicious meals. However, they lack training in meal preparation in larger quantities or the ability to handle the logistics of the commercial service. 

Customers might have concerns or a lack of trust to place orders with unverified cooks. The Rooshe platform, in addition to already existing market solutions, addresses the problem of lack of transparency and trust, as it offers a unique mix of concepts — where it combines social media and video content. Rooshe serves as a marketplace for creating an opportunity to increase trust and build relationships among all sides of the platform. 

At what stage is your startup now? 

At this stage, our team is actively engaged in developing the website along with the mobile app. You do not necessarily have to make an order to use the platform. You can choose a favorite chef, learn what time they are online, and watch the broadcast online, as they are cooking the meal for you or your family. 

How has EPIC helped you to build your startup?

EPIC helped us to narrow down our area of focus with the help of analytical insights and feedback, provided networking opportunities, and business skills training. The vital part of the help that EPIC provides is connected with the supportive mentors who guide us along the way. By working with EPIC mentors, we benefited from an external point of view and are thus able to avoid some missteps.

What are the top three tips you would give to startups that apply to the EPIC Incubation Program?

  • Be open to feedback and guidance.
  • Work through the incubation program with every member of your team. Taking part in the program together is a good opportunity to test team chemistry and the collaboration abilities of each team member, while also testing commitment and focus.
  • Use the opportunity to practice your pitching skills. And keep practicing.

The Rooshe team members have diverse educational backgrounds in linguistics, hospitality management, and software engineering. The team consists of five members, three of whom are graduates of the French University in Armenia, Brusov State University, and the National Polytechnic University of Armenia.