Apprentice star debuts ‘Whisk’ recipe shopping app

15/01/2013

Nick Holzherr, a runner-up from last year’s Apprentice final has launched an online food app, based on his losing business plan from the BBC show. The app, called Whisk, combines online shopping with home cooking. It scans recipes, creates a shopping list and then adds the ingredients to the user’s favourite online supermarket account. The app works on both Apple and Android’s app stores.

Watch a video explaining how the app was made below:

whisk.jpg

The idea was rejected by Alan Sugar and caused Holzherr to lose last year’s final.

Sugar dismissed the idea, saying: “It’s achievable, I get that. But so is sending a man to the moon. What are we going to get out it at the end? Who could be bothered with it?” He said.

Instead, fellow contestant Ricky Martin won Sugar’s backing for a niche recruitment company specialising in science and technology professionals.

Despite missing out on £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar, Holzherr has managed to raise over £500,000 from investors to create the Whisk app.

Currently on board are major supermarkets Tesco and Waitrose, with the promise of more supermarkets soon. TV Channel Food Network has also incorporated Whisk into its website.

“Lord Sugar was adamant that the technology was too complex to bother building, but we have proven that it can be done,” explains Holzherr. “We have had to push the boundaries of existing language interpretation technologies and ensure that we have the back-end capacity to cope with millions of complex transactions.

“We recently secured our second round of angel investment, taking us over the £500,000 mark,” he continues. “This will allow us to add additional groundbreaking functionality to the app, such as remembering what people have in their cupboards to suggest appropriate recipes to utilise leftovers. However, it’s incredibly exciting to have launched the first public version and have real user transactions going through as smoothly as we’d anticipated.”

How it works

A team of 15 has been working on Whisk since June, and the resulting platform incorporates “advanced semantic and linguistic analysis” to interpret recipes and automatically add them to an online shopping basket which can then be delivered direct to the consumer’s door. It’s an interesting concept for sure.

When users first launch the app, they are invited to connect to Waitrose or Tesco accounts. The app presents a list of options – Quick and easy, Sweet Things, Festive Food, Dinner Party, Inspirational and Healthy Food.

Whisk currently takes existing recipes from Food Network, but in the future will let users add a recipe from any cooking website and sync to their shopping list through the Whisk app.

Food Network has incorporated a Whisk widget into recipes on its website from 16 of its celebrity chefs, including Nigella Lawson, allowing users to buy items directly from a recipe on its site.

Other upcoming features include the ability to remember product preferences, and which ingredients a user still has from previous shopping sessions. Plus, it will recommend recipes to cook with any leftover ingredients.

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