By Hugh Shirley and Charles Wolfson, news staff
Cookin, a Northeastern student startup, placed fifth at the annual pitch competition “Beantown Throwdown” on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Cookin gives users step-by-step shopping lists and recipes aimed at making cooking more convenient and affordable.
The evening consisted of pitches from 11 startups from different universities in the Boston area. Each speaker was given three minutes to convince audience members to vote for their startup. The event, which was held at Hatch Fenway in Boston, is part of HUBweek, a weeklong program celebrating innovation and ideas in the Boston community.
Cookin aims to tackle unhealthy eating habits and the high prices of take-out.
“Cookin helps regular people cook regularly,” Connor Russo, CEO of Cookin, said in his HUBweek pitch. “Most people know that cooking is the cheapest, healthiest way to eat, but they have trouble making it a habit. […] What I’m really focused on is trying to make cooking habitual by making it convenient enough for millennials to do.”
The website provides users with menus, three meals for two people, a shopping list and instructions to make the process easy, even for inexperienced cooks.
“The recipes are designed to be the least stressful,” Russo said.
IDEA, a Northeastern resource program for student entrepreneurs, separates its ventures into three groups as part of its stage gate process: Ready, Set and Go. Go is when a startup begins to build its customer base and IDEA provides funds to help start the business.
“Cookin’s in the Go stage – they have been gap funded,” said Neel Desai, Cookin’s coach and CEO at IDEA. “They’re releasing their iOS app soon, and they’re trying to just get more users.”
The grand prize winner – $12,500 in legal services – was MCPHS University startup AskMolly, which provides health care workers details on illicit drugs.
The audience at the throwdown was receptive to Cookin, even if the startup only placed mid-range in the competition.
“I like how you use all ingredients in one day. It’s cool how simple it is,” audience member Navdev Birmah, a Boston high school student, said. “Having a mobile app makes it more modern and accessible.”
Cookin’s recipes call for amounts of ingredients that ensure waste is kept to a minimum.
“Making sure that you have no excess, that’s just understanding everything that goes into the recipe and what’s going to come out on the other end,” said Justin Mott, executive business director at Hatch Fenway. “I think Cookin is really valuable.”
A previous version of this story contained a misleading headline due to an editing mistake. We regret the error.
Photo by Alex Melagrano