Monday, 19 September 2011

Reinventing The Takeaway?

Serial entrepreneur Simon Prockter is hoping his latest venture will help change the way we look at takeaway food, for good.

He's about to launch the UK's first gourmet takeaway service – www.housebites.com - starting in London this week.

The site has received six figure backing from a group of private investors, including Bebo co-founder, Paul Birch.

Housebites gives food lovers the opportunity to enjoy individually prepared meals, made by top cooks and delivered straight to their door.

However, whilst the food is of a restaurant quality it won't come with a restaurant price tag, with customers able to pick up a main meal for around the same price as a delivery pizza.

The site has already attracted a wide range of local chefs who have worked at some of the capital's top restaurants including The Ivy, Le Caprice, Barrafina, Fifteen, The Bluebird and The Sanderson Hotel.

In addition seasoned cooks will also be given the opportunity to sell their dishes in their area, regardless of restaurant experience, as long as they pass the taste test.

MasterChef finalist Andy Oliver has also been brought in to advise the site on catering strategy, having previously spent two years working at London's prestigious Nahm restaurant.

Mr Prockter, whose previous ventures include SpeedDater, Europe's largest dating events company and activity holidays firm Adventura, says housebites caters for consumers who demand more from their takeaway.
  
He explains: "'I'd been exploring ideas within the food sector for the last 18 months and whilst so many traditional industries are being disrupted by the internet such as hotels and car-hire, I couldn't see anything great happening in food.
"We believe housebites will change the way people eat, for good. No longer do consumers have to settle for a soggy, cold pizza or a stodgy Chinese takeaway, instead they can eat restaurant quality meals cooked to order by a local chef, for the same price.

"A wide range of dishes will be available including classics such as curry and pizza and we're confident they will be made using superior ingredients and cooking expertise than down the local takeaway."

The site was recently shortlisted for Real Business' Future 50 award, which details Britain's top 50 most exciting start-ups.

Using housebites couldn't be easier with customers entering their post code, browsing the menus of local cooks, placing an order and then waiting a maximum of one hour for the food to arrive. The site promises the highest levels of quality control - just like the Michelin Starred kitchens many of the local chefs have worked in. Cooks will be asked to prove their credentials by cooking a signature dish which will be assessed, before being allowed to expand their menu.

Feedback through social media is a key part of the experience allowing users to rate their food, tweet local cooks, add comments to the Facebook page and interact in forums.

Mr Prockter says not only will the site benefit consumers, it will also offer local chefs a great way to earn a living working from home.

He said: "By working just four days a week local chefs could earn a greater wage than if they were spending the time in a restaurant's kitchen. If they're able to fill orders five days a week they'll make around £65,000 a year, which is a great work from home income.

"We're confident this flexibility and salary will attract more and more top cooks to join the service as time goes on. This will also ensure that the quality of the food on offer will continue to grow as competition for customers increases."

Mr Prockter says he believes his site will make serious inroads into the UK delivered food market which is currently worth £1.6bn and is expected to rise to £2.5bn within three years.

He said: "The market is extremely wide ranging and due to our pricing model we will be competing with a variety of takeaway favourites. The difference is consumers will know exactly what each dish comprises of and also who will be cooking and delivering it, which we believe is a real plus.
"By using the site we think people can eat better and try a wider range of foods, which will cost around the same price as the dishes they've been eating for years."

"The UK market for delivered food is huge and expanding rapidly. We have a quality yet affordable offering and are confident we can capture a significant market share."

Link to the site's Future 50 shortlisting - http://bit.ly/oTweLR


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