Appetizer: it all started on a holiday in Crete
Almost two years have passed, but Guy Michlin still remembers his first “EatWith” experience. “I was vacationing in the island of Crete with my wife and my one years old daughter, he tells me, and I can still sense the thrill in his tone, and I got kind of tired from the so-called authentic dining places. Suddenly I remembered that once I had a colleague who was living in Crete, so I called him and asked him for a local restaurant recommendation. The reply was spontaneous – Please come over and eat with us!”.
It was more than just the wonderful home cooked meal, tells Michelin, it was a real family experience:”The feeling of being with my friend’s family that did everything in its poser to make you feel at home affected me a great deal, and by the time we got home a few days afterwards – I gathered that what I felt was the universal longing to return home and fell welcome, especially while you are overseas”.
First Course: EatWith is created out of food-and-company appetite
Michilin, who was working as VP Business development for a leading Solar company, started to look for a technological partner, who can assist him in making his dream a tasty reality. Shemer Schwarz, who has just sold his own venture: XIV to IBM was looking for the next exciting adventure. Guy and Shemer were inspired by the “Air BNB” success and decided to focus on the dining business.”We got tired of booking a place in a ‘fancy-shmency’ restaurants, wait for our tables and pay a bunch of dollars for the experience. There must be an alternative fordinning out.” Both of them found a home in the Tel Aviv based incubator “The Junction”, founded by Genesis Venture Capital in order to assist promising start up companies to launch their businesses. “Junction has supplied us with a supporting work environment, coaching,and mentoring and after a few months Genesis recognized the business potential and became our first investors”.
Today, the company employs 10 people, spread in Israel, the U.S and Barcelona, Spain. Genesis Venture Capital and a group of leading Israeli angels invested in the company.
Main Course: EatWith people who share your good time taste
Guy and Shemer started to look for their hosts, who would be the first members of the Eatwith global community, inviting people to dine in homes around the world. EatWith website enables potential guests to connect with suitable hosts, share their stories and mutual life experience, while enjoying a delicious home cooked meal. Today the website contains a huge variety of hosts offering plenty of mouthwatering dishes, spread in exotic locations in Israel, Spain and New York. Guests book the meals in advance and are being asked to rate their satisfaction for the benefit of other community members.
– How did you choose your first hosts?
“We found our first hosts through world of mouth – people who were well-known for their hosting experience, we went to cooking meet-up and addressed people who had the special ‘hosting spark’ we were looking for. That is how the main hosts core came to be and afterwards it just took a life of it’s on. The EatWith concept is proving popular and we’re now attracting media attention from across the whole world. We’ve received 1,000’s of messages from people eager to be hosts in their home-town from across the whole world including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. We connect with more than 20,000 fans through, Facebook and Twitter, demonstrating how the community grows large numbers every day.”
– How do you make sure your hosts are granting a wonderful experience and keep the guests well being?
“The main task of our community managers is to meet every host in person and make sure that they are really welcoming persons, who have the special hosting personality. Our hosts are not always sere?? gourmet dishes. The food has to be tasty and decent, but we choose people are genuinely interested in hosting strangers and making them feel at home. Some of their hosts have special talents like story telling or singing, that according to the guests reviews intensify the experience. We are also taking into account the host’s home, its features and its surroundings. In addition, we ask the guests to rate their experience as another mean of ensuring our community’s members satisfaction, and working on a visit insurance policy covering every possible damage up to $1,000,000, including food poisoning. We have a policy for Israel and working on one for Spain.
It should be noted that the hosts can look into their potential guests social media profiles, connect with them through the site and confirm their participation in their home gatherings”.
“Recently we issued a pilot in our website some hosting extra services, such as market tours, lodging and cooking courses, but for the time being we decided to focus on the around-the-table experience and save the other offers for the near future.
– Are you planning to expand to other countries and offer additional hosting services?
As for the other questions – We are looking forward to bring EatWith community to other locations, and we are looking for local dining experts community services who will able to ensure a high quality food-and-company experience at their home bases”.
Desert – Some people have incredibly enviable?? jobs…
– I really envy you, Guy… Do you still have time to visit every host yourself?
Laughing. “Unfortunately, not anymore, but I still enjoy every minute of this business. One of the most elevating experiences of me as a founder is to reveal how many human bonding is being created. I know that some new couples mat one another in singles night dinner, a feature I did not think about when we began. You might say that community demand has expanded in many directions. One of them is that we focused mainly on tourism, but for the time being almost 50% of the guests are local, looking for their ‘forgotten authentic experience.”
Who are the most popular hosts?
“That depends. We have a large crowd of ‘Foodies’ who prefer Gourmet meals with specially designed courses. On the other hand, some hosts have become extremely popular due to their well known hosting reputation, Like the Jerusalem-native chef Atalya”.