Lifestyle

Foodily launches “Food with Friends” to make online culinary conversations drool-worthy

You already spends hours talking about food with your friends, and Foodily has come up with a better way to do it online. This food-lover’s startup is launching its newest version just a week before Thanksgiving to make the meal planning process as social and as seamless as possible. 

At its core, Foodily is a recipe sharing network. The platform features hundreds of recipes from around the web that users can search, collect, and share on their smartphones. Unlike Foodspotting, Pinterest, Evernote, or Springpad, which enable collecting and sharing, Foodily is built on the premise that creating meals is innately a social action and friends should be able to have a meaningful dialogue surrounding the dishes they make.

The app is designed to make conversation as natural as possible. It has group chat capabilities for questions, answers, and collaboration. Looking for inspiration on kid-friendly dinners? Invite all the parents in your Foodily network to make suggestions. Attempting to organize a 15-person Thanksgiving potluck feast? Coordinate by asking everyone to share their ideas and comments accordingly. Clueless on how to use those kiwis you received in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box? Pose the query to your whole network.

You can even receive direct advice from professional chefs and food bloggers who are on the Foodily platform, including major culinary names like Wolfgang Puck, Cat Cora, ‘Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro, and celebrity chef Lulu Powers.

Founder Andrea Cutright founded Foodily after a career at Yahoo. While there is certainly no shortage of food content online, she saw a lack of meaningful ways to talk about it.

“Food is one of the most social things we do. People talk about it all the time, and I wondered why there wasn’t a service that connects food you care about with the people you care about,” she said during an interview at the VentureBeat offices. “Food plays such an important role in our lives. We want to help people make great decisions about food, and giving food its proper social presence will lead to better decision making.”

Users collect recipes from around the web, and Foodily’s engine indexes the data to make searchable. People can also follow their friends and tastemakers and check out a “recipe” feed from people in their food world. The design is highly visual, and every dish is tagged with dietary restrictions, like low-fat, gluten-free, vegetarian, and dairy-free.

“We eat with our eyes first, and even people who aren’t food bloggers want to share their efforts, Cutright said. “Food is a center of creativity, it is the affordable luxury and a way to make yourself feel good, as well as connect with other people. Breaking bread with people is an interesting way to get to know them, and we bring this real life experience online.”

The Foodily engine is processing all this nutritional and social data in the background, and Cutright sees the data component as a possibility for monetization. People spend so much money on food, and the recipes they engage with are an expression of personal preferences. Ultimately, Foodily could recommend recipes and products and work with food producers to present offers.

The team of eight is based in San Francisco. The company was founded in 2011 and last year took $5 million in investment from Index Ventures.