July 22, 2011
Gojee has been compared to StumbleUpon and Pandora, and cofounder Mike LaValle calls it “Google for food blogger recipes.” Blogs are ablaze about its beauty: the site features About.me-like full-screen photos, from pink-frosted chocolate cupcakes to crispy gorgonzola-pecan pizza. But those luscious photos leave little space for advertising, and LaValle says they will not use ads in the near future. So how will Gojee make money?
“There's a lot of different ways you can monetize the world we’ve created,” says LaValle, but right now he doesn't know—or won’t say—how they'll do it.
LaValle refused to reveal if Gojee is making money off their partnership with D'Agostino, a New York grocery chain. Customers can synch their reward card with Gojee, and it recommends recipes based on their purchases. LaValle, who grew up across the street from a D'Agostino store, connected with Nicholas D’Agostino because they happened to go to the same gym. Gojee plans to partner with other supermarkets, and you can request which ones on their website.
This brings up another possibility: integration with so-called smart refrigerators, which keep track of their contents and alert you when a food item is low or expired. This has led entrepreneur and Tech Cocktail contributor Jason Lorimer to advise General Electric to buy Gojee and perfect a wi-fi-enabled fridge that would tell Gojee what ingredients you have. (With lots of speculation about smart fridges, the closest seems to be a forthcoming $3000+ LG fridge.)
Finally, Gojee might try to capitalize on their relationship with food bloggers. Gojee's team handpicks recipes to aggregate, and about 80 bloggers have made the cut so far. LaValle emphasizes that the personal side of cooking—the story behind the food—is a central part of Gojee.
“Cooking is a lot more than a search on a website or adding a bunch of restrictions and variables and getting an output,” explains LaValle. “We’ve made the whole process more fun and more personal.”
According to LaValle, Gojee will explore how to cultivate this personal aspect. That might mean—and these are just my speculations—charging users for things like cooking lessons with food bloggers, or perhaps earning some advertising revenue from food blogs that gain viewers from Gojee.
At the moment, though, the Gojee team is just happy with the enthusiastic response. “We're trying not to touch too much,” says LaValle, who doesn’t plan to monetize the site for another six months. But after two major changes in the past year—Gojee started out as a data-heavy food analytics site and then a personalized feed—they are clearly willing to shift in response to demand. And they will be making small changes soon, like allowing vegetarians to exclude meat and adding a dropdown menu to browse favorites.
For now, we can enjoy our honeymoon period with Gojee, and figure out later if it's a keeper.
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