Co-founder and Managing Director Karl Naim said that the idea of ChefXChange came about after he felt the constant endeavor of being host and amateur cook took the enjoyment out of the dining at home experience. Maybe you’ll not have all the ingredients that you need, or you’ll be so stressed out with preparations that you don’t get to spend enough time with your guests. Naim and co-founder Marc Washington thought there could be a better alternative to this scenario, and Naim believes ChefXChange is “democratizing the [private chef] service” by bringing it to users through its marketplace, noting that the Airbnb/Uber models can also be implemented in the culinary space.
The co-founders say ChefXChange is a win for both chefs and foodies: for the foodie, the dining experience is within reach and now hassle-free via online navigation, and for chefs looking to freelance and set their own hours, it provides an alternative to just working in restaurants and professional events. It also offers them a storefront and CRM through ChefXChange, thereby increasing their reach and exposure level.
Bootstrapped by the founders, ChefXChange’s business model charges a 15% commission from the chef’s side on every booking, although chefs and foodies can sign up on the platform for free. As for the ROI, Naim stays mum on the subject: We prefer not to disclose that, and it is too early-stage anyway.” Fair enough. Regarding investments, in December 2014, ChefXChange raised a seed round of funding amounting to US$500,000 through a SAFE structure round consisting of private investors they knew via first-degree level (former colleagues or business partners), who also added financial and strategic value to the enterprise.
The funds will go to expansion, marketing, better UX for their website first, after which an app is next on the agenda, and hiring key talent within the company. Besides strengthening their presence in their core markets (UAE, U.K., Washington D.C. and Lebanon) and in the GCC and Middle East region, they eventually want to bring it to new markets in Asia and Latin America.