EatWith, the global community connecting hungry diners with amazing hosts, is changing the way we think about “dining out” and facilitating unforgettable experiences around the world. Sometimes referred to as “the AirBnB for dinner,” EatWith is transporting us back to a simpler time, when people invited others into their homes and connected with each other over a well-cooked meal.
Born in February 2012 by co-founders Guy Michelin and Shemer Schwarz, EatWith has been a star of the collaborative consumption scene, raising $1.2 million last fall to bring their idea to market. Since the beta platform launched in January, EatWith has produced tremendous growth, effectively doubling in size every month. Their 8-person team is scattered among their headquarters in Tel Aviv, the test case hub of Barcelona and, of course, the king supreme foodie capital New York City. Beyond that, EatWith communities are already sprouting in 11 countries worldwide, including UK, Brazil, France, Argentina and Italy.
It works like this, hosts build a profile to offer up their home and kitchen as a micro-restaurant and choose the menu, date, price and available seating. Diners, both local and those simply passing through town, reserve a seat, eat like kings, and make new friends.
Barcinno had the pleasure of sitting down with Joel Serra Bevin, the EatWith country manager for Spain, to learn more about this amazing concept and see just how big this idea can grow. The half-Aussie, half-Catalan food lover and self-made chef wasted no time bringing us up-to-speed on how he traded his suit, tie, and KPMG business cards for set of chef knives and opened his own cooking school in Barcelona. Although he had no prior professional experience, his passion for cooking attracted Barcelona locals and international travelers willing to learn, and soon he was selling out 2 cooking classes per day.
Somehow, between frantically racing around Barcelona to set up his cooking school, he was approached (or rather hunted down) by Guy Michlin as a potential candidate to set up the Spanish market for EatWith. Guy told Joel a story of traveling through Crete with his wife and being invited into the house of a local Greek family with whom they shared absolutely no common language. Through food, they shared an amazing evening and the surprising experience led him to create the EatWith concept. That was all Joel needed to join the team. He was looking for a way to combine his passion for cooking and love of startups and EatWith was the perfect platform. That was last October and ever since Joel has been focusing all of his energy to build the company and keep pace with its runaway success.
“The demand is strong. In fact, our main focus is on delivering a high-quality experience can sometimes be at odds with our growth rate,” Joel states calmly. It’s no secret that they’re constantly bombarded with applications from chefs around the world wanting to open an EatWith offering in their city. However, every single chef (and home) is checked for quality and the best are awarded with an “EatWith Verified Badge” before going live as an option for diners. Quality is of supreme importance as the entire business relies on the “overall experience” when choosing to eat at someone’s home rather than at a restaurant. EatWith currently has more than 90 hosts in Spain alone, many of them are professional chefs, but the team is diligently verifying each and every one before they let them cook for their members.
A major turning point came this Spring when TechCrunch approached them with an offer to present at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 in New York City. Joel and Guy travelled to NYC to meet with their US-based teammate Maya and attend Disrupt together. Little did they know what the trip had in store for EatWith. Almost instantly upon presenting, their platform crashed from the heavy traffic. Requests from chefs around the world started pouring in and investors perked up, wanting in on the action.
But the fame hasn’t gone to their head nor has it taken their eyes of the prize. EatWith is well on its way to becoming a global phenomenon challenging the entire restaurant industry as a new option for diners seeking a unique experience. Around Barcelona, fans are raving from their latest foray into the new “dining in with others” experience.
Toronto-native Wendy Gold had the chance to EatWith Guy himself last week in Barcelona and was clearly invigorated by the new dinner concept. “EatWith brings back something we seemed to have lost somewhere along the way of our increasingly fast-moving society. The art of making new friends and discovering new experiences through food has somehow fallen by the wayside as technology has reduced our actual physical interactions and replaced them with Facebook updates and Tweets. EatWith brings it all rushing back as I feel like I’m really friends with people I dined with, especially our gracious host.”
To check out the full menu in your neighborhood, click here. If they’re not in your city just yet, not to fear, worldwide expansion is coming soon.
Congrats to Joel, Guy, and the entire EatWith team! We look forward to “dining in” together soon!