Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Food app whisks trio to world finals

Duoyi Xu, Hayley Yu and Edwin Tsang are competing at Microsoft's Imagine Cup in Seattle. Photo / Greg Bowker
Duoyi Xu, Hayley Yu and Edwin Tsang are competing at Microsoft's Imagine Cup in Seattle. Photo / Greg Bowker

For Duoyi Xu, Hayley Yu and Edwin Tsang, a hunger to provide healthy, home-cooked meals and help aspiring chefs led to a business that is taking them around the world.

The brainchild of the trio, Clove is a multi-platform app and website that allows consumers to have meals delivered while home-based cooks can improve their business and test recipes. The idea was developed for Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition where students create apps or software using Microsoft technology.

Having won the New Zealand and Asia Pacific finals, the University of Auckland students fly to Seattle this week to compete on the world stage.

The idea for Clove came from a project that Yu, 22, had been working on a few years ago - helping to run a four-week healthy cooking class for communities in low socio-economic areas. The idea snowballed when she met Tsang, 20, and Xu, 21.

"We're targeting chefs who want to start their own business or trial a bunch of things," Yu said.

"Our aim is to really move your home chef, so your stay-at-home mum or dad, or passionate cook, to be able to start their restaurant through Clove."

Since launching, the team has conducted 10 pilots with cooks who have signed up to the programme, with dishes from a range of cuisines. Clove has established partnerships with local businesses including KPMG, Deloitte and Datacom to deliver food into Auckland's CBD.

According to Xu, the Food Act 2014, which came into force in March, resulted in a number of changes that meant Clove could work.

"It's a really exciting time for New Zealand's food landscape," Xu said. "The act sets out a series of rules that provide for [businesses like Clove], so anyone that wants to start selling food from their home kitchen can," he said.

Regulations included filling out a food control plan and mandatory checks by council health officers were included.

"What they're trying to do with this new system is to ensure the same minimum standard of quality and safety as you would get from any restaurant," Xu said.

"So it's a really exciting time for us to empower the people that want to get into cooking but only have a home kitchen and not much capital."

According to Yu, health and safety was one of the main issues the company had to plan for with checks on chefs and a rating system for dishes similar to Uber where consumers could provide feedback instantly through the free app.

Chef profiles, nutritional information and ingredients were included on each meal.

Dishes would be fresh but chilled, mostly costing $10 to $15. The team had also been experimenting with family size meals, with a meal for four costing around $30.

The trio head to Seattle this week to compete in the Innovation sector of the Imagine Cup World Finals, vying for the title and $50,000 in prizemoney.

Clove

• App developed by a trio of Auckland University students

• Provides a platform for home chefs

• Provides consumers with healthy, home-cooked meals delivered

• Meals range in price, usually between $10-$15

• Range of cuisine styles from Western to Asian and Indian

• Business developed for Microsoft's Imagine Cup

- NZ Herald

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