The most amazing meals the world has to offer typically aren’t served in restaurants, but in the kitchens of locals. A new, sharing economy-style startup aims to bring those unique culinary experiences to travelers, by creating a new platform that could be called the “Airbnb-for-home-cooked-meals” (if Airbnb analogies are your thing).
The Tel Aviv-based EatWith was founded in 2012 after its founder Guy Michlin connected with a local family in Crete for dinner while vacationing. Between the local cheese, insider tips on places to go, and unique perspective on the Greek financial crisis, the experience became one of Michlin’s most memorable as a traveler. “The best way to break the bubble and enrich your connection to a place is to interact with real people in their own private spaces,” he writes on his website.
For now, his site is available to diners and hosts in Israel and Spain and is in the process of recruiting hosts in New York. Meals in Spain range from $11 to about $57, and special events like workshops are also available. The platform includes the type of social features you’d expect, like the ability for hosts to market themselves on their profile pages and for eaters to leave reviews of their experiences.
EatWith joins many other young companies in the home-dining space, including two we’ve covered in just the past few months: SupperKing (from the U.S.) and Melba (from the U.K.). And that’s not even to mention what feels like the constant launch of another app or site declaring itself the Airbnb of ‘X.’
The sharing economy is a tempting space to join, given the hype, sense of social purpose, and Airbnb’s $2.5 billion valuation. But as Fast Company’s Danielle Sacks recently reported, many of these companies fail, especially the ones that focus on sharing between neighbors, which makes sense in theory but is often limited by a lack of convenience or a presumed sense of risk.
But it seems like many entrepreneurs forget that what makes Airbnb successful, in part, is its core focus on the experience of travelers, who are more eager to meet people, find unique experiences, and save money. Plus, they’ve already exited their comfort zones. Meeting up with friendly hosts in a foreign city whom you’ve already emailed with can feel like a relief.
And perhaps that same focus on travelers will help make EatWith (or one of its competitors) successful where other sharing economy companies have failed. After all, any local with one foodie friend or family member already has a destination at the ready for delicious home-cooked meals.