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It’s important to stay positive during the New York hustle, WoodSpoon’s Israeli execs say

IL Tech in NY

It’s important to stay positive during the New York hustle, WoodSpoon’s Israeli execs say

New Yorkers are known for their constant hustle and 24/7 workweek - just don’t let it get you down, says WoodSpoon’s executives in the latest IL Tech in NY series in collaboration with Israeli Mapped in NY

CTech | 12:48  15.01.2021

Making the move from Israel to New York City can be daunting for any company or entrepreneur. Aside from the natural culture change, there is the daily grind that can get you down if you’re not used to the usual pace of the bustling city.

“Stay positive,” urged WoodSpoon’s management when sharing advice on working across the pond. “New York is a lot of hustle and it can be draining. People work 24/7 in New York and it’s easy to get down on yourself or doubt your ideas. Keep pushing and stay true to your goals and vision.”

Oren Saar, Merav Kalish Rozengarten, and Lee Reshef. Photo: WoodSpoon Oren Saar, Merav Kalish Rozengarten, and Lee Reshef. Photo: WoodSpoon Oren Saar, Merav Kalish Rozengarten, and Lee Reshef. Photo: WoodSpoon

WoodSpoon helps thousands of people get on-demand delivery to some of their favorite home cooked meals - something that has seen a huge spike since everyone today may be stuck in a cosmopolitan city like New York away from their traditional family cooking. WoodSpoon joined CTech for its Israeli Tech in NY series to explore what makes The Big Apple such an attractive place for new companies - and how to keep up.

Company name: WoodSpoon

Field of activity/product:

Food delivery service that offers on-demand, crafted foods made by home chefs and delivered to the diner.

Founders: Oren Saar, Merav Kalish Rozengarten, and Lee Reshef

Year of founding: 2019

Number of employees and whether the company is active in other locations:

10 employees active in New York and expanding. We recently launched a Tel Aviv tech center.

Sum of total funding to date/funding rounds completed: $2M after our first round.

Names of investors/VC backers: Silvertech Ventures and World Trade Ventures (WTV)

General background on the founders/senior managers:

Oren Saar and Merav Kalish Rozengarten co-founded WoodSpoon in January 2019 to satisfy their cravings for authentic Israeli home cooking. Oren, who serves as the company’s CEO, combines his passion for cooking and his corporate experience at companies like Google and BCG, to pursue this culinary journey. Merav, WoodSpoon’s CMO, uses her extensive background in communications and marketing to help WoodSpoon meet the demand for less-industrial foods. She joined WoodSpoon after serving as the first employee and CMO at AnyVision, a facial recognition cybersecurity startup. Lee Reshef, Head of Platforms, is also part of the leadership team. Lee previously worked as Head of Global Marketing Programs at Google.

Background on the product/service/platform/solution:

WoodSpoon is a community-based online platform that connects customers with trusted home chefs to deliver delicious, authentic homemade food. Customers can order over the app or online to enjoy a variety of dishes from local cooks specializing in cultural cuisine. WoodSpoon provides a space for home chefs to share their culture and cooking passion with others. We have more than 100 talented chefs on our platform including some from notable restaurants such as Nobu, Cipriani, The Modern, and Jean-Georges’ Nougatine. Users can order dishes for immediate or scheduled delivery. The chefs handle the cooking and we handle everything else through our tech-enabled end-to-end platform.

Why New York? What advantages does it offer? How does the market differ from Israel? How does the competition differ?

New York is a melting pot of different backgrounds and communities who bring their cultures and cuisines. Like anyone in a new environment, New Yorkers crave food that reminds them of home. At WoodSpoon, we are seeing a huge demand for meals from all over the world, and local chefs are eager to join us in our mission. No other food delivery platform provides chefs with a reliable end-to-end service like WoodSpoon while meeting the demand for high-quality, authentic food.

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The pandemic accelerates demand for cultural-based homemade food. More people want to support chefs with ways to work while restaurants are closed. And – while we can’t travel the world in search of global cuisines – local chefs and their favorite home-cooked meals can bring the best of the world’s food to our tiny New York apartments. With a vibrant food culture in New York and the proven success of shared-economy models like ours, New York is the perfect place for us to grow and build our business.

Two things you learned about the U.S. market from operating in New York:

Community and cultural connections are stronger than ever in New York. With everyone working at home and missing their friends and families, WoodSpoon is a way for them to reconnect with their culture and communities – and to discover new ones.

We also learned that New Yorkers love their favorite chefs. Our chefs have tremendous followings and their own fan bases. They all love sharing their stories and unique food with people around them. We get amazing feedback from our customers about our chefs, the food, and the overall WoodSpoon experience.

Two things you learned about American investors as a result of starting operations there:

Investors appreciate new ventures that are market-tested and proven like WoodSpoon. We are not just a unique idea. We have a growing base of customers and chefs and plans to expand to new markets to meet demand. Our investors are aligned with our plans and mission.

Second, investors invest in people. We have a strong team of co-founders with extensive backgrounds and experience in leadership roles. Our team knows how to build a business and are experts at executing.

Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what to do in New York:

Take advantage of the resources available to you. The Israeli startup community in New York is very strong and everyone is supportive of each other. We appreciate the support and are always looking to open doors for other Israeli entrepreneurs in New York City, and the same can be said for mentors. It is helpful to have a local on-the-ground network who can connect and guide you as you build your business.

Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what not to do in New York:

Don’t think you know it all! New York is a big place and every community is different. At WoodSpoon, for example, the chefs and cuisine we offer in Manhattan are different from the foods we offer in Brooklyn. Don’t assume the city is a one size fits all kind of town.

Second, stay positive! New York is a lot of hustle and it can be draining. People work 24/7 in New York and it’s easy to get down on yourself or doubt your ideas. Keep pushing and stay true to your goals and vision.

On a scale of 1-10, how much did the Covid pandemic impact your work?

10! The pandemic has increased demand for authentic foods and chefs looking for a way to continue cooking. Sadly, too many restaurants have closed and there are a growing number of chefs who are out of work. Customers are also at home and eager for homemade, authentic comfort foods. WoodSpoon is filling these voids in the market by giving chefs a platform and a way for New Yorkers to get their favorite home-cooked meals. Our platform creates a new working from home option for chefs and widens their reach to a larger audience. At a time of isolation and social distancing, and especially around the holiday season, we have been fortunate to provide people with the opportunity to celebrate with what is closest to their heart and family - food from home.

What are the differences when it comes to recruiting employees?

With authenticity being an important ingredient of our success, it is important that our chefs and employees are culturally and ethnically diverse. In New York, we are able to identify very unique cuisines and chefs who have large followings from all over the city. It’s the perfect city to build a business based on cultural, community-based food.

What are some of the workplace culture differences between Israel and New York?

It’s surprisingly similar, which is why it was easy for us to make the move. The large Israeli community also helped ease the transition. The biggest difference would be what happens during lunch. But with WoodSpoon, we’re able to get our favorite Israeli dishes from some of the best Israeli cooks in America!

The IL Tech in NY project is a collaboration between CTech and Israeli Mapped in NY.

For more information: Franklin@israeliMappedinNY.com

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