Noah Karesh will be a panelist at DCWEEK for “The Share Economy.” He is the cofounder of Feastly, which lets diners have a unique meal in a cook’s home, and co-owner of the Blind Dog Cafe, a pop-up daytime cafe in Washington, DC. DCWEEK is a week-long festival co-produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. Get your tickets here.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Feastly?
Noah Karesh: Feastly came to me while traveling. I have always explored other places and cultures through food. During a trip to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala with my girlfriend, I was struck with the lack of authentic food. It seemed like every restaurant was offering hamburgers and pizza, and we wanted local food. Rather than settle for a restaurant, we convinced a local to invite us in for a home-cooked meal. At that moment, I thought, it shouldn’t be so hard to find homemade meals around the world. That is when the idea for Feastly was born.
I brought the concept to Startup Weekend DC in November 2011 and, along with my cofounder Danny Harris, built out the site with a team of fellow eating and technology enthusiasts. In January 2012, Danny’s mom came down from New York to cook our first Feastly dinner, a traditional Libyan meal for 25. We have now hosted over a hundred meals across DC and NYC, and we’re working to bring Feastly everywhere, including Lake Atitlan.
Tech Cocktail: How does Feastly fit in with the sharing economy?
Karesh: Feastly is at the core of the sharing economy. We empower chefs to monetize their un- or underused skills by expanding our eating options from the one million restaurants in the US to the 150 million homes. Our chefs are making money, building their brands, and being featured on the likes of The Food Network, Washington Post, NPR, and others. Moreover, we believe that breaking bread together is more than simply a tool for nourishment – it is the vehicle through which we create and sustain community. Feastly’s mission is to reintroduce the dining room table as the original social network with three simple ingredients: a comfortable home setting, good food, and real people. We work closely with our siblings in the sharing space, and have developed partnerships with Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and Uber, among others.
Tech Cocktail: You’re also the co-owner of Blind Dog Cafe. What’s that and how did it come about?
Karesh: I would consider myself a coffee shop connoisseur! I, like many, have spent a large chunk of my entrepreneurial and academic careers working from coffee shops. To me, the coffee shop is the ideal third place. While the city has some great places, it also has many coffee shop deserts. Using the lessons of the sharing economy, I worked with two friends to convert a bar, Darnell’s, which was closed during the day, into a vibrant coffee shop, The Blind Dog Cafe. It’s a great symbiotic relationship, and also a model for other entrepreneurs looking to solve other urban deserts with limited resources. It is a perfect place to work, meet friends, and get a delicious cup of coffee.
Tech Cocktail: What makes the DC startup scene unique?
Karesh: In DC, we support each other. I’m always amazed at the number of people who have offered their time, wisdom, rolodex, and check books to support Feastly. The city takes a lot of pride in its home-grown talent and businesses, and we are proud to continue putting DC on the map as we expand our reach to New York and beyond.
Tech Cocktail: What are you most looking forward to at DCWEEK?
Karesh: Feastly is all about disrupting the food space. As such, I am excited to meet and listen to others changing our thinking and consumption patterns in other areas. Specifically, Eric Koester of Zaarly is a mentor, and someone thinking radically different about how we get things locally and the power of the peer-to-peer marketplace.