Most great ideas come from finding out what is missing or needed, and filling up that space. Amanda Hesser was able to fill a void in the online culinary world with her startup Food52. People love food. People love to share their opinions online. Hesser combined these two loves and was able to make a community for cooks and chefs alike to join in on the conversation.
Amanda Hesser is an American food writer, editor, cookbook author and entrepreneur. Most notably, Hesser was the food editor of The New York Times Magazine where she wrote more than 750 stories. Hessler is the author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook which was a New York Times bestseller, and is co-founder and CEO of Food52. Food52 is an online platform that bring cooks together from all over to exchange recipes and ideas and to support each other in the kitchen.
From Chef to Writer to CEO…
In a recent Inc. “Drinks With…” video, Hesser, sits down with Jon Fine, Inc.’s executive editor. Hesser explains how she got her start in the culinary world. Then, why she decided to leave her job at The New York Times to start a $6 million startup business.
Hesser starts with a history of how her and her co-founder came to develop Food52. She says she first developed a professional relationship with her co-founder Meryl before they became great friends. She calls their partnership a lucky one, because many co-founders don’t know each other all that well before they go into business.
“We started working on this cookbook called the Essential New York Times Cookbook and she was helping me test recipes and research…and then we became really good friends,” she says. “There were a lot of things that Meryl and I knew we didn’t know but we trusted each other.”
How It’s Grown
In the two years since she founded the startup, the most important thing Hesser’s learned is to listen. But that it’s also equally as important to lead and not get too caught up in all the feedback. She provides a specific example of how her Hotline platform was developed with this idea in mind.
“Through these recipe contests…we would give a very specific theme, therefore leading, and people would add their recipes. We would test a bunch, we would name finalists, people would vote, and the winners would be professionally photographed and celebrated,” says Hesser.
“But one of the things we noticed, is that in the comments section people were asking really specific questions…often challenging cooking questions,” she continues. “And other members of the community were weighing in.”
People were responding and giving really in depth and long form answers and opinions. Hesser and Meryl realized their platform was not the best format for these types of great conversation surrounding cooking. Therefore, they made an adjustment.
“Just by observing we were able to create our Hotline,” she says.
View the full video here.