Once Upon a Time Written on Paper

The Story of Our Inception

Hey there! I’m Mouhamad Mbacke, I’m Chief Executive at Kultros and I formally co-founded the company with Daniel Berezovski and Armin Zolfaghari in July of 2017. This is the story of how Kultros was born.

The initial idea popped up back in late 2016 as Daniel and I were standing in line waiting to buy some textbooks. Daniel happened to get a phone call from his mom, who pitched an idea for a kitchen rental service, where she could lend out her kitchen and cooking skills in return for some cash in her free time.

We thought it was a cool idea and mulled it over while waiting through a strangely long textbook line, we thought about who would use such a service and then the conversation drifted towards how we would personally use it. Being recent university students with crappy time management and cooking skills, we had been resorting to frequent on-the-go, delicious but very unhealthy fast-food and takeout, and we really began to miss homemade food. So, we wondered, what if we could have homemade food delivered to us whenever we wanted, at a decent price?

Boom. We had a hit, so we dubbed the idea “Project Kudos” after what we initially wanted to call the rating system for the app (give the cook 1-5 Kudos instead of stars! Hurrah for Startup “Innovation!”) and so we began.

We decided for such a big project we would need a bit more help, Daniel already had a technical background and worked on a few other projects here and there, but we still needed another person with solid coding skills and decent business acumen, so Daniel called up his old project partner and friend Armin Zolfaghari, who happened to pack both, to see if he was interested in the project. Armin was interested. So then we were three.

Next, we began planning and doing our due diligence, figured out how much it would cost to do food deliveries, how we would find drivers and cooks, how much it would cost us to start up and run the service, etc. All was proceeding smoothly, but then we encountered a huge problem which almost made us decide against starting the project – food safety.

We realized that not only would be super difficult to vet home cooks to see if their cooking practices were quality and safe, but also there would be issues in making sure that every home cook’s kitchen and equipment would be able to meet safety and client standards. Delivering food was also rather costly and it would raise prices for customers, we also were aware that people would not exactly be comfortable with their food coming from random kitchens – rightly so.

There was also a bit of a legal issue or two with delivering food from kitchens which would not have proper food storage space, so with all that it looked to be the early death of project Kudos.

We begin talking to some lawyers and it begins to look even more bleak for the project, all the lawyers we talk to confirm it is totally unfeasible to have random unlicensed cooks prepping food out of random kitchens and we all personally felt that it would be rather irresponsible to let that happen. So we came pretty close to deciding to scrap the project, but we really believed in On-Demand cooking by that point and thought that we may be able to figure out some solutions to the project’s problems if we thought long and hard enough.

So back to the drawing board we went, Daniel and myself met at the basement of his dorm and had Armin call in (he was at Ottawa at the time), we also had our good friend Oliver Berggren there for a bit of creative and moral support.

We put ourselves at work figuring out how to make sure the cooks we had on the platform were qualified and knew how to make food safely. The solution was so obvious it seemed strange we hadn’t come up with it earlier, we asked why don’t we get licensed professional chefs to cook the meals, that way they taste great and are handled carefully? Awesome, one problem down, but there was still the issue of where the food would be prepared and how they would be delivered.

This one stumped us for awhile, but that’s when the idea popped into my head, what if we have chefs bring the food and cook right in front of people in their very own kitchens? You get to see the whole process and get to interact with the chef and the food.

Whoa. That to us seemed radical at the time.

But it was still a pretty elegant solution and even simplified how the service would work, it cut out the need for delivery driver middlemen so chefs could pocket more cash and people pay less, but even more importantly it made the whole experience a lot more intimate, people could see the food being made right in front of them and build relationships with the chefs, then bring back chefs they knew and trusted for future meals. Boom. We knew our direction and everything else fell to the periphery.

I pitched it to Daniel, Armin, and Oliver and they were all on board. From there the then-named Project Kudos was a-go and the work began for us in earnest.

Written by Mouhamad Mbacke
Author email: mouhamad@kultros.com

Posted on March 9, 2018