THESE GUYS ARE SO ZEITGEIST I HALF EXPECT THEM TO TELL ME THEY BOUGHT THE TABLE WE’RE SITTING AT ON GUMTREE OR GOT THE CHAIRS ON FREECYCLE
Wei, 24 — all sons of post-Soviet immigrants to Budapest — only had the idea just over a year ago. Sitting in the dreary Regent’s Park council flat they shared as students, they were moaning about the food they had eaten that day. Wei and Kaplansky in particular are committed foodies and excellent chefs, and Kaplansky recalls leaving the Cass Business School every night and facing the same dispiriting options.
‘I step out of uni and I can kind of picture it: Itsu to my left, Pret in front of me, and Wasabi — which one should I choose today?’ Kaplansky says mournfully. ‘I knew the menus by heart, I knew the tastes by heart.’ During the discussion in the flat that night about the chain-dominated predictability of fast food and takeaway food in London, Wei mentioned that he had seen a documentary about French grandmothers who posted on bulletin boards when they were making extra food. Kaplansky said he had heard about a similar thing in Israel. As students, all three were used to cooking for friends at the flat and taking food over to dinner parties, and they wondered whether they could create a website that allowed ordinary Londoners who were talented with food to share their fare online.
Kaplansky made that the subject of his dissertation, researching peer-to-peer mealsharing in Europe, and found projects in Greece and Holland showing a strong demand for services that allowed hungry consumers to buy cheaply the extra food made by good home cooks. He noted that shareyourmeal.net — a simple site made by a couple from Utrecht — had seen 70,000 meals shared in a year. ‘It showed people are comfortable with it,’ says Kaplansky. The boys immediately began planning a business that would improve on the two or three existing food-sharing websites and take its place in the blossoming ‘sharing economy’ — defined loosely as companies and organisations involved in distributing and sharing excess capacity in goods or services, usually facilitated by the web.
Things moved fast from there: drawing up plans for a website, working with a lawyer to thrash out the legal implications of running a business that would see food being sold from home kitchens, and drumming up support in London foodie and technology circles.
Eatro went live last week, with a few dozen chefs offering an enticing mix of dishes, including Chinese dumplings and tangy oven-baked chicken. Anyone can sign up to sell their food on Eatro, subject to a chat with one of the founders in which they explain the hygiene standards, the requirement for the food to be relatively healthy, and the price range (they would like most meals to be in the £5 to £7
Right: Eatro is based off Brick Lane. Below: Eatro chef Cristina boxes up her homemade paella