This startup wants you to get takeout from your neighbor's kitchen

July 17, 2017

Ten years ago, few people would have ever considered a total stranger’s personal car or spare bedroom a viable alternative to a taxi or hotel accommodations. Yet today, sharing economy services are mainstays of travel and everyday commuting.

For Shmeal co-founders Craig Silver and Justin Hamer, the sharing economy’s rising popularity raised an interesting question: Would people be willing to buy takeout meals from their neighbors?

“Shmeal is an app that lets you share homemade meals with your neighbors and friends for $6,” said Silver. “You can cook meals at your place and post them on the app, then your neighbors and friends can come over and pick them up.”

Silver and Hamer said the legalities around selling home-cooked meals online aren’t clearly defined, but that several other businesses — including Chicago’s Meal Sharing — have been doing similar things for years.

Hamer said he and Silver used to live together and take turns cooking meals for each other. For them, the arrangement provided a way to eat healthy food on the cheap without having to cook every night. Shmeal aims to replicate that convenience by letting its users buy and sell takeout meals from each other for a fixed price.

“We did a lot of calculations for how much food costs, and we figured out that the cost of a home-cooked meal is between $2 and $2.50,” said Silver. “That’s something you don’t think about very often, especially if you often go out to restaurants.”

Cooks post their meals ahead of time, and diners can reserve a portion as soon as it goes live. Customers can also put orders in at the last minute — as long as supplies last.

“You can also follow cooks in your neighborhood and get notified when they’re cooking,” said Silver.

Shmeal is currently in beta, with a limited number of meals available each day. Hamer and Silver are both selling meals through the platform, as are a number of their friends and cooks the founders discovered on Instagram.

Shmeal is bootstrapped, and Silver said he and Hamer are not currently seeking outside investment. Hamer has done all of the development work for the app, while Silver has focused primarily on the design and marketing.

The founders expect the iOS app to launch in the App Store soon.

“Up until now, we’ve primarily been working on the app and we’ve been in beta for a few weeks now,” said Hamer. “We’re running lower and lower on issues, so we’re getting there.”


Image via Shmeal.

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