Of the 6,729 users that have done at least one level in Parsnip since we launched in June, 3,028 or 45.0% have completed at least 6 levels. For a single-player cooking app that’s only been out for 3 months, this is a serious amount of engagement. So it’s worth asking—why?
Zooming out for a moment, Parsnip’s long-term vision is to make it easy and convenient to cook at home. The first step toward that goal is to make it easy for anyone to learn any cuisine, but that’s still too big to bite off all at once—so our wedge into this market is with beginners, mostly in the USA but also in other English-speaking countries, who have particularly acute pain with learning to cook.
But aiming at beginner cooks is a counterintuitive target. An obvious entry point for Parsnip are people who already cook regularly and thus have a lower hurdle for trying new cooking products. However, after many product iterations and a pivot, we’ve realized why the beginner market is both underserved, and excited about Parsnip.
First, let’s be clear what we are not solving. The home cooking & food delivery space is quite saturated, but almost all cooking, meal kit and delivery apps are trying to solve a physical or convenience problem:
Do you need to eat right now? → food delivery
Do you need ingredients? → meal kits or grocery delivery
Do you need recipes? → recipe apps & websites
Our earned secret, however, is that none of these are the real hurdle for beginner cooks. More and more people would like to cook for themselves, but somehow even with a plethora of convenient options available, the number of aspiring cooks keeps growing.
In fact, the lack of convenience isn’t what's stopping most beginners from cooking. The much bigger barrier in the way is an emotional or confidence problem:
I’m not sure what to do
I don’t know where to start
I’m afraid I’ll mess up
My friends & family might judge the food I make
We’re seeing repeated evidence that an abundance of confidence trumps any lack of convenience. Once Parsnip makes a person feel like they can cook, they’ll run to the grocery store, buy whatever they need, and jump eagerly into the kitchen. And even the first attempt can be quite tasty! Here’s a user’s first foray into spaghetti & meatballs (from scratch), one of the most complicated recipes in Parsnip so far:
We have so many examples of how empowering it feels to learn to cook with Parsnip:
So, Parsnip is solving an emotional need, not a physical one, and the product we're selling is not so much "cook a meal" as "become a better version of yourself". Many legendary consumer companies, like Nike and Apple, sell this too.
Why not give Parsnip a try if you haven’t already?
As a founder/investor in the cooking & food space, one of the first things you’ll notice is how saturated it is. There are recipe sites & apps, meal kits of various flavors, grocery delivery apps, food delivery apps, ghost kitchens, and ghost kitchens with robots, and robot food delivery…an endless number of products & companies.
But slice the market this way, and Parsnip is in a category of its own:
The products on the left are trying to give you a fish, but Parsnip is teaching you to fish. And as the adage goes, that’ll feed you for a lifetime. Because instead of asking people to spend money outsourcing their food production in a guilt-inducing way, we’re telling users, “hey, you can do this!”
We’ve always believed that technology should be empowering rather than exploitative, and that the best uses of technologies make humans better versions of themselves rather than replacing them. But this is good business too — another benefit of selling confidence is that we get to build a scalable zero marginal cost software product instead of an operationally intensive physical product.
One of our primary goals right now is go-to-market strategy — that is, getting Parsnip in front of more people and continuing to get their feedback. If you have any ideas for how we can get out there, we’d love your help!
Or, if you like what you read here, how about sharing our story with someone?
You can also read about our longer-term vision and how we plan to also address the hassle of meal planning with an AI for the home kitchen:
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This number of 45% is up from 34% from our TestFlight launch several months ago, despite acquiring users from a wider, more general audience. In short, we’re improving!
Ironically, this is the same fundamental problem that stops many people from jumping with both feet into startups, or launching in “stealth mode”. Maybe we can build a Parsnip tech tree for entrepreneurs in 15 years? 😉
People have been cooking their own food for thousands of years, which includes providing the labor that goes into cooking. Fundamentally, convenience-based food companies are trying to outsource this labor of millions of home cooks into a separate supply chain. When the labor of food production is no longer freely provided as part of someone’s day and must be paid for, it’s inevitable that either profit margins or quality will suffer.
Love it! I wonder if there is a fun way using all of the incredible food-emoji to share small wins with friends on social media like Wordle... I love sharing my yellow/green daily play with my brother. Just thinking of ways in which the existing audience might help grow the audience as well.