App Created By 42 Students Connects Users with Home Cooked Meals

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THE GAME CHANGER: HOMEMADE FOOD OPERATIONS ACT

42 students Allen Temunovic and Pedro Nunez just launched AVIA, an app that connects users with home chefs in the local community who offer home-cooked meals. The timing of AVIA couldn’t be better. The 2018 Homemade Food Operations Act, also known as Assembly Bill 626, is a new law just went into effect in the state of California on January 6th.  This allows anyone who wants to start a “microenterprise home kitchen operation” to apply for a permit. This permit will allow them to sell meals out of their private home kitchen.

This bill was supported by Creating Opportunities, Opening Kitchens (C.O.O.K) Alliance which states on their website the impact they are hoping this bill will have, “ We believe home cooking helps build healthy, resilient communities and create economic opportunities for the people that need them most. We support a future where talented home cooks can legally and safely share meals with their neighbors…It is the first law of its kind in the United States and creates economic opportunities for cooks across California. The Microenterprise Home Kitchen permit will allow the small-scale sale of meals from home kitchens – supporting economic inclusivity, public safety, and a new avenue to entrepreneurship for people historically without one.”

THE RESURGENCE OF HOME COOKED MEALS

The co-founders of AVIA dreamed of bringing together people and home cooked meals well before the Homemade Food Operations Act went into effect. Allen shared the inspiration behind the name, “Basically I was thinking of mom’s home cooking, so we wanted to choose a name that reminds you of your grandmother or mom. I did research and “le via”  means “street” or “road” in Italian. I was thinking of the road that leads to home. Inside that home, there is a chef who is ready to give you a delicious meal.”

According to a recent article in Bloomberg, “Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals, the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating.” Allen’s inspiration behind the app started when he was playing football at UC Santa Barbara, “Generally sports is my main interest as well as nutrition. I have always been a healthy person and am conscious of what I put back into myself. When I was at UC Santa Barbara I made crepes with Nutella and strawberries and I was taking pictures of them. Everyone in my dorm was like, ‘that looks amazing.’ I sold them to friends, 2 for $4, and in 2 days I made $550.”

We sat down with Allen and Pedro to learn more about AVIA. They explain how they hope it will have a positive impact by offering healthier meal options to users and giving home cooks an opportunity to make an additional income.

What was the inspiration behind AVIA?

Allen: I had that idea for quite some time, it kind of lingered and Venmo came around and made mobile money transfers easier. Firstly, I feel like food can bring people and communities closer together just like Uber and Airbnb has. Secondly, it also makes me happy to give other people the opportunity to have a job. AVIA has the potential to have a positive impact on low-income families and/or individuals with a passion for cooking. Grandparents have cooked phenomenal food for years and they can make some income.  Lastly, when you’re hungry and you don’t have time to cook, why not get authentic home-cooked food? The only option is to get fast food or something through Uber Eats, and it usually isn’t healthy.

Tell Us More About Your Journey:

Pedro: Allen and I met at a piscine just over a year ago and we struggled through the experience, and I think this is the reason why we kept interacting. We both had incredible mindsets and work ethics. Some days we spent 15-18 hours at the lab during the piscine. And some days we stayed the whole 24 hours. This is where Allen and I initially saw our potential together. He said it was the reason why he was here. We were always thinking of ideas of how to get started. When we realized that the law had a chance of passing sooner than we thought, we came up with a plan and started thinking of ways to pitch it to Gaetan. He was understanding of the position we were in and gave us an opportunity to kickstart AVIA.

Allen: Basically Wyoming is the first state to allow home cooking to be sold, so I was thinking of starting the business out there until more states allow it. For two years I was sitting on the idea, writing mock-ups. I met Pedro at 42 and things fell into place, and the Homemade Food Operations Act of California was passed.

Pedro: We got into Rabbit Cloud before the law was passed and it was passed when we were working on the prototype.

Allen: We were doing the 42 curriculum and slowly everything started to come together. Someone told me to apply to Y Combinator Startup School. We got accepted into YC’s 10-week program in September 2018. I went to Gaetan and told him that I thought this is a huge opportunity, but I can’t focus on 42’s curriculum for the next 2 weeks and build on this. Hoping to see what 42 could teach me about entrepreneurship, Gaetan put us in Rabbit Cloud for the next 10 weeks. I went to Pedro, who is one of the hardest workers I know, and got him on the team. After that, we did a pitch deck.

What is the purpose of AVIA?

Allen: AVIA’s mission statement is: HomeCook. Share. & Enjoy.  It is very simple. This essentially explains what our app does. We want to be part of the revival of the home-cooked meal, promote a cheap alternative to eating out, and provide a viable option to meal prep kits. Ultimately we want to give families and individuals wholesome and healthy home-cooked meals despite today’s fast-paced lifestyles. We are trying to solve this dinner dilemma, where people will get busy and will eat out, often making unhealthy food choices. When it comes to meal prep kits, cooking is still a skill, relating it to Uber, driving is a skill. Plenty of people do have this skill and passion for cooking. At the end of the day, we believe that people would rather have home cooked meals instead of going out to eat.

How does AVIA work?

Allen: It is a three-step process that is very simple. And that is what our goal was, to aim for simplicity. The app is simple, intuitive and can even run with data or WIFI for extended periods of time. Users can search by city, review meal listings and book their dish. There is a host incentive, home cooks do not have ‘ads’ that expire. They have a profile with a posting of their location near you and available dishes. People will have the ability to create profiles that have ratings and rankings. These ratings and rankings will let hosts and users know who is reliable and professional.

Describe the work you are doing on AVIA:

Allen: We are both full-stack engineers, we write out on a whiteboard features we have to accomplish than we do them. I ask Pedro what he wants to tackle, and we communicate. If we get stuck we help each other and work on something together. We are learning front end and back end together. In 10 weeks we have learned a lot. We learned and implemented MongoDB as our database and Express as our framework used for Node that is based on our servers and listens for any input/connection requests from our clients. In addition, we used React as our front-end development and NodeJs for our back-end development.

What has been the most challenging aspect?

Allen: There are challenges we have to research. We need to prepare for marketing strategies, properly organize, and launch the best that we can because first impressions are the largest impact. I am a visionary, anything I experience I want to put it in their shoes. Everything has been a challenge, and we still grow and want to add more and more and get to the point where people love the product. We need to ask the right questions and get people to want to use this platform.

Pedro: The most challenging aspect has been the learning curve, getting to the point where we are in less than a year. We have been working on AVIA for 3 months for the prototype.

Allen: There are challenges where you hit a wall and you feel like you don’t know what you are doing anymore. The hardest part so far is that we had to have a completely functional prototype before being brought back into Rabbit Cloud. Gaetan wanted to make sure that we were actually working when he gave us this opportunity. That code rush the last week, we were hitting walls, I was freaking out. Things were crashing and getting deleted, but it was good to experience that as a team.

What have you enjoyed most about developing AVIA?

Pedro: Learning. When we started all we knew were systems. Before this, we had no web development experience. We jumped into a rabbit hole after reading an article, and just learning new stuff was the most fun.  

Allen: That opportunity to go to startup school. Networking, observing and listening to professional CEOs, from companies such as from Triplebyte and Amazon, it was great to learn from them. To work as a team and practice communicating, that is all a part of being successful. It made me realize it is not easy to do anything by yourself. You need people with the right background and skills. With my company, I want leadership and AVIA is built on leadership. We also learn from each other. We both had no coding experience coming in.

What did you learn from working on AVIA?

Allen: We are still continuously learning, there is a lot to do. Every time we accomplish something we take notes left and right to share. We break it down into features that we each work on to tackle so we can understand what each other is doing. Understanding Pedro’s logic, the way he thinks, is important. We just keep growing and communicating as a team.

Pedro: For me, I got to learn how to speak about my code, before it was just personal projects. Once I got on a team I began to understand things better. It wasn’t just about being able to explain to Allen what I was working on but to other people as well about how the application works. So I guess my communication skills got better and progressed.  

Allen: It is all about leadership, dedication, and discipline. We work around 12 or 13 hours a day. Time flies but we are having so much fun.

What future do you see for AVIA?

Allen: By February 2019 we should have a complete customer acquisition and have acquired a total of 20 trusting early registered, reliable home cooks in the Bay Area. In the future, we would like to be a working platform across the entire United States. There were 3 or 4 investors who tested our platform and were highly intrigued. Gaetan also gave us really good food for thought. He advised us to consider pursuing college demographics since that is what a lot of companies do. Overall, once we get people to love the product, I know it can grow and be successful.

Pedro: Once the application goes out, and state governments see the potential and impact that an app like this can have on their economies, I am hopeful that other states will pass similar laws.

MEET THE TEAM 

Name and Title: Allen Temunovic, CEO & Co-Founder, Full-Stack Engineer   

Hometown: Originally Chicago, then I moved to Arizona when I was 12.

Interests: I love football, working out and staying healthy. I ’m trying to become a successful entrepreneur and help others.

Dream Job or Long-Term Career Goals: I have a bachelor’s degree in biology. A buddy of mine who was at 42 told me to try this program. I was like, “I am not going back to school.” I have a book of ideas, and my buddy told me I should try to do programming. I looked into it, quit my job in medical sales, and came out here 2 weeks later. My dream is to be an entrepreneur.

 

Name and Title: Pedro Nunez, Co-Founder, Senior Full-Stack Engineer

Hometown: Lake Tahoe, California

Interests: Technology, automobiles, outdoors, and reading.

Dream Job or Long-Term Career Goals: I am interested in becoming a pilot someday. My long-term goal is to create a company that positively impacts the lives of the people around me. I hope that my expertise in software development will help me accomplish that goal.  

published by Stacey Faucett – January 10, 2019