Cooking and startups

I wanted to start with a post about topic I like, to get myself back into the habit of blogging. If you read this blog, you know that I write a lot about startups and entrepreneurship, putting my own perspective on it. So here goes….

I’ve been doing some more cooking recently since I’ve been working from home due to the weather and being under the weather myself. I found one of the hardest things to explain to people is “what is a startup” and what’s involved in building a startup. I explained it with parking, which a lot of my readers like. It resonated with a lot of people because it was something they understood and do all the time. Here’s attempt 2.

Food references

I use to do Salsa in Melbourne (shoutout to Salsa Foundation!). It was very close to my office at the York Butter Factory. One of the things that stuck with me are the analogies that the instructor used. He made a lot of references with salsa dancing and cooking. Whilst I can’t remember the exact references which were hilarious at the time, I remember why he used them.

Not this kind of salsa

Not this kind of salsa

He used to make a lot of references using sports. However, not everyone understood them. They were a lot of females in the class and they didn’t get his sports references. I’m sure some did, but there would have been a lot of guys that wouldn’t get it either. For example,  he would say “lets form a scrum”, to get everyone to huddle together closely and then he would give instructions. But not everyone understood what a scrum was! He found the cooking/food references were a lot better, because they were more widely understood.


Errr lets form a scrum!

So due to my recent cooking adventures, here is my perspective.

When cooking a dish, it requires the right ingredients. These ingredients have to be mixed in at the right time and the right temperature. It requires a lot of little adjustments based on taste, touch, smell to get the flavour right. When cooking something for the first time, even if you follow a recipe, its unlikely that you will nail it the first time.

The other day I cooked an omelette (it was like a chinese omelette that my dad makes). But it was totally out of whack. I put the egg in first, then some prawns in afterwards. I hadn’t allowed for half of it to be flipped over. After speaking to a few people about my omelette making experience, I tried again the next day. It was def better but I still hadn’t managed to flip the rest of it over – maybe only 20%. The more times I do it, the more likely I’m going to get closer to a tastier (and edible) result. Eat and repeat.

Timing is another factor to consider. Cook it too little, and its undercooked. Cook it too much and its overcooked. You also need to understand how fast some ingredients cooked compared to others. One of the problems I have right now when making several dishes, is understanding how long it takes to cook one dish compared to another, and what do to first. Its not too similar to a startup – you need to juggle customers, staff, funding, investors, technology, legal.

Here are two dishes I made with my grandma today – she’s passing down her recipes to me as she gets older.

Potato, carrot, chicken with soy sauce.

Potato, carrot, chicken with soy sauce.


Spinach, no popeye

Spinach, no popeye

This is one that’s in progress. It happened because I didn’t take the tofu out of the wrapping properly. Clearly tofu-cook fit needs to happen.

I call this tofu disaster

I call this “tofu disaster”

Food startups to check out

I want to mention some startups that I’m involved in that have to do with food! I wasn’t deliberately looking to get involved with food startups. It just happened because I happen to know these people.

Based on my cooking skills above including the “tofu disaster”, I’m clearly not helping them with the food side of things 🙂 I’m helping them in various ways from technology, mobile, lean startup methodology, and marketing. I can also help them as a consumer of food 🙂

 1. Flogged: Eat where the food bloggers eat. Flogged helps you find a restaurant based on food blogger reviews and recommendations. Search for your favourite food blogger and see where they have eaten. Flogged stands for “food blogged”. It is available for Sydney and Melbourne. I actually came up with the name “Flogged” and its made by Raymond Ho, my brother who is a web/mobile developer. Flogged is an iOS app which you can download here.

2. YouChews: Connects local caterers with events, parties and office lunches. Youchews uses “local artisans” which encompasses food trucks, market stalls, local cafes/restaurants, street vendors. If you are sick of eating the same boring and tasteless food, then check out YouChews for your next company event. YouChews is founded by Liz Kaelin and Phillip Doran.

3. Healthy Foodie Box: A subscription commerce business where you receive a box every month with nutritious and healthy food catered for your health goals. Its currently under development and will be launching soon. HFB is founded by Ping Wang, a web developer and foodie. If you are interested, please contact me and I can put you in touch.

I’m out like my tofu making skills,

Matt Ho

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