The Atlanta-based platform connects busy families looking for high quality, homemade meals with top local chefs who can bring those culinary dreams to life. Based on specific timing and needs, a chef comes into a user’s home and makes a meal from scratch.
Now, the concept of a personal chef sounds expensive. But Tuggle said her target customers are working families who just don’t have the time to cook throughout the week. The goal is to seamlessly integrate the personal chef experience into a family’s already busy schedule.
As Tuggle has been building up her client base neighborhood-by-neighborhood in Atlanta, she said the best type of review she gets is along the lines of: “I didn’t even know they were here, except for the smell in the kitchen.”
INNOVATING THE FOOD WORLD
Startups in the food world are nothing new. There are established restaurant food delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats. And there are a growing number of grocery, fresh produce, and meal delivery kits that are in the market now. But whether you are using Instacart, Fresh Harvest, The Rounds, or Blue Apron, the problem is still that you have to find the time and the energy to actually cook what got dropped off at your front door.
Today, Cookonnect chefs come from across the restaurants and hospitality industry. Chefs are selected through an interview process that gauges hospitality, ambition, and their technical skills. They then go through a background and reference check. All chefs have to keep updated food safety certificates on file.
At the core of it, Tuggle said the goal is to find people who “love to share love through food.”
Users select when they want to Cookonnect chef to come and that chef does all the shopping.
The menu is curated through a partnership with a culinary school and chefs are well-trained on cooking with substitute ingredients. That ensures that each meal can be customized based on allergies, preferences, or other dietary restrictions.
MEET THE TEAM
Tuggle, a first-time founder and Harvard MBA graduate, built up her career in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) space at corporate giants like Coca-Cola and General Mills.
As Brand Director at Coca-Cola, Tuggle saw first hand how busy families were looking for a “convenient meal experience” that simply didn’t exist in the market.
In true startup fashion, Tuggle was the first Cookonnect chef. This allowed her to get into the market quickly and iterate on the idea with real customers.
Atlanta is a natural place to launch this type of service-based startup, Tuggle added. Not only does the city have a strong food culture, there are a lot of working families living within neighborhoods that have a strong sense of community and identity. That allows Cookonnect to take advantage of network effects neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
The team went through Techstars Atlanta in 2022, which is where the team got its initial cash injection. It has since brought on an operations lead, a no-code developer, a customer experience expert, an intern, and a growing list of chefs. The team has been hard at work rolling out its subscription service and a new special occasion mean option to help meet customer demands.
Now, Cookonnect is in growth mode. Tuggle said she is currently raising a $500,000 SAFE note to prove the platform can scale in Atlanta and eventually into new markets.