Hipcook is an app that allows food bloggers to share recipes with their audience. Created by Kimberley Hardie and launched on the App Store this month. We caught up with Kimberley to find out the story.
//Startup News: How did you get started in app creation?
I used to teach computing and in particular software back in 2001, I created a recipe database program in my spare time with a front dashboard so users couldn’t see the database system behind but could add recipes and categorise them, use search features etc. I had created a blog back then (before blogs even started really) and uploaded the package and sold it! Couldn’t believe my first purchase was from New York.
Fast forward to 2012 and I thought I would try to make an app instead. Using some of hubbies and my money, we self funded and got a company to design our app, however, I was never happy with it. I didn’t have enough in the budget to get help with a graphic designer and promoting and marketing the app was a nightmare….as everyone in the business knows.
//Startup News: Indeed, the biggest problem now is not building the app, but getting noticed amongst the millions of apps on the store. How did you overcome that?
I was also blogging and designing, creating recipes, food styling etc etc. It was hard work to get noticed. I felt like I had failed and felt very much alone in my struggle to create a long held dream. I got so dispirited I let it go for a bit and just sat on it.
//Startup News: The Trough of Despair. Every founder hits it, and it’s not fun. How did you get through it?
The app was great in the way that you could import recipes from cookbooks and magazines (using OCR technology) and import any recipe from online. I also had a feature in the app where anyone in the world could share recipes, it really bothered me. It was getting messy, I had no control over some of the dreadful tripe that people were loading up and there was always a question of legal issues. I was legally safe if someone put up a Jamie Oliver recipe, but then I didn’t want to be dragged through the courts to prove it!
So it was back to the drawing board. I then came up with the idea of a recipe ‘pop up shop’ so to speak in the app. Food bloggers don’t get paid for their recipes and hard work (well not many of them), but they do have a huge following.
People who follow the bloggers love them, and download their ebooks of recipes, but the ebooks are only 1 dimensional in the fact that they are only a pdf file or word document. Whereas now the bloggers recipe package can offer much more in that recipes can be stored, saved, categorised and added to the shopping list.
//Startup News: So you’re pivoting to aim at food bloggers, is that right?
Yes, so if a blogger has a package of exclusive recipes on the app, they get 30% of sales of their package, which gives them some real revenue for their blogging work, and gives them an incentive to promote the app (which also solves my marketing problem!). Their followers can now actually do something with those recipes, i.e menu plan and have all their recipes in the one place (recipe storage, importation, menu planning and shopping list problems, fixed).
Its really a terrific little app that will help support talented food bloggers with income and exposure.
//Startup News: How many bloggers have you signed up for it so far?
I’ve got 3 bloggers on board so far, and others who are keen but cautious. There’s also a celebrity chef who is very interested. It’s early days so I wanted to make sure all systems were working well before I approached any more bloggers. The system is now working beautifully so we will begin researching which bloggers and recipes will work well and appeal to different users of the app.
I also think it might take a bit of convincing for some as its such a new concept never done before. Once we get going and get traction, then we can show other bloggers that this is a great way to bring in some extra revenue, while gaining more exposure, this will also only grow for them as our user base increases.
I have also set up a private login online for each blogger so they have access to real time sales of their packages. This is so the blogger is encouraged to market their package as they see theirs sales in real time but also it makes the whole system more transparent.
//Startup News: Thanks a lot Kimberley, and the best of luck with Hipcook!