On an otherwise non-descript day off from work in Bengaluru in 2015, Arun Ravi, Nikhil Dharman and Anoop Balakrishnan, IT professionals and flatmates, faced a familiar problem. They were determined to cook something new and interesting, had little expertise, and were thoroughly let down by the internet. Every recipe they found online came with ingredients they didn’t have, and sometimes, did not even know existed.
And so they asked the question that one imagines gets asked regularly in startup city, Bengaluru, “Why not form a start-up and develop a recipe book app?”
A year later, Recipe Book is basking in the glory of being chosen for the Editor’s Choice section in the Google Play app store. And the app, which offers half a million recipes according to its description on the store, has been downloaded over 5 lakh times.
Although the app started off as a hobby project, its creators say, it took huge amounts of effort to put together. “The idea was simple; make something with what we have in our kitchen. Though it was a side project, we put in a lot of effort as it is almost reverse engineering. We had to make the codes bug-free to ensure that the ingredients and the results are always attuned,” Arun says.
Since all of the app creators had day jobs in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), they decided to put that knowledge into the app, to calibrate the app’s responsiveness to users. “This was the best decision we ever made,” said Arun.
Thus they incorporated a new feature called “Snap n Make”, which lets the user take a photograph of any food ingredient, whose features the app recognizes, and lists out all possible recipes using that ingredient. “This lets the user identify recipes with whatever they have in their kitchen. This is what made our app very popular,” said Nikhil.
As the popularity of the app increased, and they were featured on the front page banner of Google Play India, they began investing more time into the app. Their focus was on perfecting the ‘Snap n Make’ feature, and they released a more perfected version of the app in December 2015. “This is what won over the Google Play editorial board and we have requested for a patent for this technology,” said Nikhil.
Arun adds, “We are also getting featured at Google I/O, California (an annual developer’s conference) this year. A team from Google Mountain View is also travelling to Kochi this week to make a short video of our team.”
With the app receiving around 30,000 downloads daily, said Arun, the three developers are now planning to work full-time on the app. “We’re planning to expand our business structure and rope in established brands to feature their exclusive recipe sections in our app,” said Arun.
They are reportedly also in talks with Chinese companies who want to feature it in their exclusive app stores. ‘Recipe Book’ for iOS is also under development and is expected to be launched next month.