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你的晚餐,Gojee做主

Daniel Roberts 2011年09月20日

Gojee.com希望根据用户冰箱里的食材量身打造菜谱——它刚刚获得了120万美元的种子风投资金。但它能跟那些大型菜谱网站正面抗衡吗?

    

    Gojee.com

    说到网上菜谱,观者的视觉感受和他们的味觉体验同等重要。7月上线的Gojee网用幻灯片的形式来展示菜谱,一张张烹制好的佳肴靓照在屏幕上炫目地划过眼前,让人叹为观止。点击一下餐盘,就能把观者带到该菜式的个人美食博客页面上,展示这道菜的详细做法。这个网站刚获得首轮大额投资,由Kapor Capital风投公司主导的120万美元的种子期投资。

    Gojee公司的首席执行官迈克尔•拉瓦列毕业于西点军校(West Point)。毕业后他加入步兵团,并在阿富汗服役一年。2006年,他回到家乡纽约,在摩根士丹利投资公司(Morgan Stanley)的技术投资集团呆了三年。在那里他遇到了现在网站的联合创始人何田(Tian He),后者现任Gojee的工程副总裁。他们俩一起构想出了开办这个公司的计划。公司的目标是:利用数据提供在线菜谱搜索的全新体验。拉瓦列说:“还从来没有谁能利用美食数据开发出既新潮又实用的聪明玩意。”

    Gojee利用数据的方式是,与超市的优惠卡建立联系,了解顾客所购买商品的种类,并运用他们冰箱或食品储藏室里的食材量身定制网站所展示的菜谱。目前,Gojee的超市合作伙伴只有D'Agostino's超市,这是一家位于曼哈顿的食货店。但网站用户也能手动输入他们现有的食材或喜欢用到的食材。

    这种模式对超市的潜在好处是显而易见的。现在与网站齐名的这家杂货店首席执行官尼克•D’阿古斯提诺三世说:“我们已经看到了,网站上的这些菜谱成了顾客们非常感兴趣的东西。我能为你提供一大堆满足你要求的菜谱,都是你从来没吃过的。你只需要告诉我们‘好吧,我不喜欢盐,但也不喜欢金橘’就行了”。D'Agostino's超市的顾客是Gojee理想的测试人群,帮助网站了解哪些做法奏效,哪些没有效果。

    拉瓦列相信,Gojee使顾客的体验变得个人化,这是真正奏效的方式,在这方面,它比其他同类网站,如Epicurious, Yummly或Food Network做得都要更加出色。这些庞大的菜谱网站都是Gojee的主要竞争对手。他说:“这些网站给人的感觉总是都差不多。”他听上去有点恼火,一边列出了一张长长的清单,那是他在这些竞争对手身上发现的雷同之处——比如它们的版式、搜索功能和基调。

    他说,Gojee是唯一一个能对网络使用方式的改变作出响应的网站。“未来三年,整个浏览网络的方式都将发生改变,所以我们采用了全屏照片,能在平板电脑上用手指拖动,或是在键盘上敲敲就能从左到右滑动。”

    也许Gojee最让人惊讶的特点是,这个网站上大量的菜谱都是靠网站的员工(7位全职员工)通过审查从美食博客中人工遴选出来的。拉瓦列说:“显然,我们主打的每个博客都得有很出彩的照片,但也得有独特的视角。用户能步入这些博主们的世界。想找到真正出色的美食博主们,只有登录我们的网站才能做到。”

    约书亚•斯托克斯就是这些美食博主中的一位。他是纽约的一名私人厨师,已在Gojee上发布了大量菜谱。他说,多亏这个网站,他的博客访问量已经骤增。Gojee正在努力挑战更大的菜谱网站,这位博主从中既看到了它的优势,也看到了它所面临的挑战。他说:“比如说,像Food Network这种网站的缺点就是,一旦鲍比•弗雷(Bobby Flay,美国著名特级厨师——译注)抛出一份菜谱来,不管它到底如何,大家都会一拥而上,一试身手,就因为这是他给出的菜谱。”他还补充说,如果这些由著名厨师提供的菜谱让人失望,用户们就会抛弃它们,产生挫折感。他们可能再也不会试着自己做菜了。

    但是,像Food Network这类网站在固定受众和流量优势等方面仍然占有优势。斯托克斯承认:“我访问过所有这些大型菜谱网站,主要是因为,只要用谷歌(Google)搜索菜谱,首先跳出来的就是这些网站。要想挑战谷歌是很困难的。”

    Kapor风投公司的斯蒂芬•德百利表示,他们之所以投资Gojee,主要缘于风投公司现在对健康食品和有社会影响力的创业企业越来越有兴趣。他说:“我们要避免对消费者在生活方式的选择上指手画脚,而Gojee用一种优美而有趣的方式做到了这一点。而在后台,一旦了解了人们正在吃些什么,并将它与零售业联系起来,就会产生巨大的商机。Gojee在数据方面的实力是真正打动我们的地方。”Gojee是Kapor公司迄今直接投资的首家与食品相关的创业企业。

    如果Gojee的目标是实现增长,它需要积极展示自己的存在。即便是拥有各种创新特性,它也还是要从一座陡峭山峰的山脚开始攀登,而山顶则盘踞着地位稳固的各大菜谱网站。尽管Gojee不愿透露其网站的流量,但它自称已在199个国家拥有会员,并且其美食作者的班底最近刚好实现翻番,从80人增加到了160人。它的谷歌Chrome应用程序则拥有近3万名用户。

    斯托克斯说:“美食是个不断变化的市场。其他那些网站拥有实现改变的资源,但这并意味着它们能看清将会发生什么改变或应该出现什么改变。”

    译者:清远

    When it comes to online recipes, readers' eyes are just as vital as their stomachs. Gojee, which launched in July, offers recipes in a slideshow format, with stunning photos of the finished product splashed across the screen. Clicking on a dish directs readers to the web page of an individual food blogger with the recipe's full details. The site just nabbed its first major funding, a $1.2 million seed round led by Kapor Capital.

    Gojee CEO Michael LaValle, a West Point graduate who joined the infantry and spent a year in Afghanistan, returned to his hometown New York City in 2006 and spent three years at Morgan Stanley in the technology investing group. There he met co-founder Tian He, now Gojee's VP of Engineering, and the two hatched a plan to start the company together. The goal: use data to offer a new experience in online recipe hunting. Says LaValle, "No one was doing anything intelligent around harnessing food data to deliver something cool and useful."

    Gojee makes use of data by linking up with supermarket loyalty cards to learn which items have been purchased, customizing recipes it displays by what ingredients are actually in the fridge or pantry. Currently, Gojee is only partnered with D'Agostino's, a Manhattan-based grocer, but users can also manually enter ingredients they have on hand or generally prefer to use.

    The potential interest to supermarkets is obvious. "We have seen recipes on the Internet becoming a monster thing that customers are interested in," says Nick D'Agostino III, CEO of the eponymous chain. "I can provide you with a hell of a lot of recipes that meet your requirements, but that you'd never eat. You'd have to tell us 'Okay, I don't like salt, but I also don't like kumquats.'" D'Agostino's customers are an ideal test population for Gojee to find out what works and what doesn't.

    What works, LaValle believes, is the way Gojee personalizes the experience, more so than sites like Epicurious, Yummly or the Food Network, big recipe outlets that make up Gojee's main competition. "Their sites always give the same experience," he says. Sounding annoyed, he ticks off a long list of similarities he perceives between his competitors – their layouts, search function and their tone.

    Gojee, he says, is the only site responding to changes in Web usage. "The entire way of navigating the web is going to evolve in the next three years, so that led us to fullscreen photos and being able to swipe on a tablet or click left to right on a keyboard."

    Perhaps Gojee's most surprising feature is that its recipes are hand-selected from chef blogs that the staff (seven full-time employees) vets. "Every blog we feature has to have great pictures, obviously, but also a unique perspective," LaValle says. "You get to step into their world. If you want to find good food bloggers, there's only our site."

    Joshua Stokes is one of those food bloggers. A private chef in New York, Stokes has had a number of his recipes featured on Gojee and says that he's noticed a spike in traffic thanks to the site. He sees both advantages and challenges in Gojee's efforts to take on the larger recipe sites. "A flaw with, say, the Food Network site is that if Bobby Flay throws up a recipe, people will try it no matter what, because it's his," says Stokes. Stokes adds that if these recipes from brand-name chefs disappoint, users tend to abandon them, feeling defeated. They might not try cooking it again.

    Still, sites like Food Network have the advantage of built-in audience and traffic dominance. "I've tried all the big recipe sites, mostly because, when I Google a recipe, they're the first to come up," admits Stokes. "It's hard to take on the Google (GOOG) factor."

    Stephen DeBerry of Kapor says they invested in Gojee because the VC firm is increasingly interested in healthy food and in startups with a social impact. "We want to help get out of this wagging a finger at the consumer for lifestyle choices, and Gojee does it in a beautiful, fun way," he says. "On the back-end, there are some great opportunities once you learn what people are eating and connect it to retail. The data dimension is what really impressed us." Gojee is the first food-related startup Kapor has invested in directly.

    If Gojee is going to grow, it'll need to aggressively announce its presence. Even with its creative features, it's starting from the bottom of a steep hill, at the top of which sit the more established recipe sites. Though Gojee won't disclose its traffic, the company says it has members in 199 different countries, and in has just doubled its stable of food writers, from 80 to 160. Its Google Chrome app has nearly 30,000 users.

    "Food is a changing market," says Stokes. "Those other sites have the resources to change, but not always the wherewithal to see what changes are going to happen or should."

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