EatWith, The Airbnb For Home-Cooked Meals, Bags ProSieben’s €4 Million Prize
Companies like AirBnb and Uber have been at the forefront of a whole new way of doing business, known as the “sharing economy”. And investors are paying close attention, encouraging their startups to move away from the “singular” capitalist way of thinking towards something more “collective”.
Gaining traction on this front is Israeli startup EatWith, which allows strangers to book home-cooked meals in people’s homes, kind of like the Airbnb for food. Just last night (Wednesday), EatWith won the ProSieben‘s startup pitch event, hosted by the venture capital arm of the company, 7VPD. At the event that took place in Tel Aviv, EatWith won over an impressive panel of judges including Yahal Zilka of Magma Venture Partners and Micha Kaufmann of Fiverr, bagging a €4 million ($4.9 million) prize in advertising money. ProSieben, one of the leading media companies in Europe and Germany’s largest television network, will now give EatWith the opportunity to spend its prize money on advertisements and promotions on its many TV channels and other media platforms.
Regarding EatWith’s win, ProSieben’s liason in Israel, Kevin Baxpehler, tells NoCamels: “EatWith is a fantastic company that has been able to create a whole new dining experience. The startup is successfully scaling its offerings and operations internationally, which makes it a perfect candidate to work with us. The €4 million in TV advertising will have a significant impact for EatWith’s entry in Europe’s largest market, not only driving traffic, hosts and customers to its site, but most importantly building a brand.”
EatWith‘s Director of Communication, Naama Shefi commented on the significance of the ProSieben win for the company: “This prize will allow us to bring EatWith to new markets. Because TV airtime is very expensive, startups usually rely on the web as their advertising platform, so we are very excited about this opportunity. We believe that a broad creative campaign will resonate with travelers and locals, and will deliver a strong message about how EatWith is changing the way people eat, travel and make new connections.”
EatWith was founded by Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwartz in 2012 to give travelers the opportunity to experience authentic cuisine and meet interesting locals, but the startup is now increasingly popular with native residents of host cities. The company, which has raised $8 million in a funding round led by Greylock Partners, already has more than 500 active hosts in 160 cities and 30 countries around the world.
EatWith’s vetting process for potential hosts is strict: Before someone can become an official host, the person’s home is checked for cleanliness, safety, food quality etc., and like with Airbnb, guests can leave reviews on the site.
Anat Topel, who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been an EatWith hostess since the beginning of 2014, after successfully hosting a demo dinner for EatWith auditors. So far, she has hosted six Shabbat dinners at her home in Tel Aviv for guests from the US and Romania. Topel hosts EatWith guests as part of her family’s routine Shabbat dinners. “None of my guests were Jewish, yet they were all moved by the traditional Shabbat dinner,” Topel says.
Instead of having dinner at their hotel or at a touristy restaurant, “my guests chose to see Israel from the inside,” Topel says and adds: “My guests become part of my family, we’re still in touch.”
A full Shabbat dinner at the Topel residence costs 200 Shekels, but it takes a group of 20-30 guests to actually make it profitable, Topel says. “I love hosting dinner parties and that’s why I joined EatWith – for fun.”
Second prize in the competition was awarded to MediSafe, a data-driven medical management platform, that was awarded €2 million towards advertising on ProSiebenSat’s channels. Third place was awarded to TinyTap, a social platform that allows families and communities to create education games and applications, which received €1 million in advertising funds. ProSiebenSat.1 and its venture capital arm 7VPD just recently entered the Israeli market with hopes to widen their cooperation with Israeli technology companies and to aid growing startup companies in their transition into the vast European market.