Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Kitchensurfing Wants to Make Dinner at Your House, With Help From Union Square Ventures

Is there still room to position a fledgling company as the “Airbnb for something,” and get traction and funding in 2013?

Yes, there is. Meet Kitchensurfing: Instead of letting you rent out your room, the startup brings chefs to your house.

The New York-based company has been around for a year, and its pitch is so straightforward — Kitchensurfing match-makes customers who want restaurant-quality food made in their home (or office, or whatever), and some 1,500 chefs who want extra work — that it already has at least one direct competitor. Silicon Valley’s Kitchit does something very similar.

One notable difference between the two: Kitchensurfing has raised $3.5 million, most of which comes from an A round led by Union Square Ventures, along with Spark Capital.

Kitchensurfing CEO Chris Muscarella has an interesting tech/food background. He was a co-founder of Mobile Commons, a startup that helps brands and nonprofits turns their users’ phones into marketing machines; he’s also the owner of Rucola, a really good Italian restaurant in Brooklyn’s Boreum Hill neighborhood (get the carrots).

Co-founders Lars Kluge and Borahm Cho, the company’s CTO and design head, come from Berlin, and president Ben Leventhal is best known as the co-founder of Eater, the pioneering food blog.

Like every other marketplace/“collaborative consumption” company, Kitchensurfing needs to figure out how to scale while keeping some sort of quality control on its sellers/services.

Since its customers are bringing people into their homes while they’re in their homes, the company is a lot less likely to have a “Breaking Baddebacle. On the other hand, it’s promising really great food, made in your kitchen, so it needs to make sure it’s sending people who can deliver.

Right now, Kitchensurfing vets its chefs manually, and also brings them in for “onboarding” sessions in its Brooklyn test kitchen (the photo above shows you what they were up to yesterday). Eventually, Muscarella says, he thinks they’ll be able to set up a system where new chefs get approved via peer-review system.

Now we’ll let him explain the business himself, along with an assist from Leventhal:



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