Culinary AI: A Recipe for Success

Serial entrepreneur Bahubali Shete, whose last startup is backed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, talks technological innovations, his love of cooking, how he merged his two passions to create Klovechef, and the vital role AC mentorship has played in his journey.

October 14, 2020

They say two things in life are certain: death and taxes.

We argue there’s something else: Wondering what you’ll have for dinner every single night of your life.

And, let’s be honest—it’s a bit of a pain, isn’t it? Every meal has planning, shopping and a recipe involved. Sometimes we forget to plan or shop (or we simply don’t have the time), but we still want to create a great meal at home in our kitchens.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just ask, “Alexa, what can I make for dinner?”

With Klovechef, you can.

Klovechef: The Google Maps of Cooking

“During a focus group discussion, an elderly lady was asked what existing technology she would like to have in her kitchen,” recalls Bahubali Shete, co-founder and CEO of Klovechef.

Her answer? Google Maps. Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions to any culinary destination.

At its core, Klovechef is an interactive cooking experience platform. It turns written recipes into conversations with voice assistants about how to cook whatever you’d like without requiring new software.

Gone are the days when you had to look up recipes to only find blog post after blog post that force you to sift through entire back stories to get to the ingredient list.

Klovechef converts traditional recipes into voice-guided instructions in less than a minute. Recipe creators can share their content for free and earn as consumers engage with their mouth-watering recipes, making it a win-win-yum for both users and contributors.

If the overall platform is thought of as the Google Maps of cooking, features of it can certainly be understood as:

• Shazam for health trackers: Focussed on your health and diet? Klovechef enables you to keep an accurate meal diary to track calories and more.

• Shoppable for groceries: Klovechef recognizes and takes ingredients from recipes to turn them into convenient shopping lists.

• Netflix for recipe videos: Users can easily discover new cooking videos with interactive content from the recipe contributor via voice assistant.

Bahubali Shete: Serial Entrepreneur (Who Loves To Cook)

When you meet Bahubali, you will instantly be struck by how friendly, warm and passionate he is. You can tell his mind is always on the move—an attribute that has served him well as a serial entrepreneur.

Bahubali’s first company, Connovate Technology Private Limited, was India’s first IoT platform startup to be acquired. At the time of exit, the platform was running about one million IoT devices. Ultimately, all products were rebranded as Motorola and HubbleConnected and launched worldwide.

He was also the brains behind what Mashable referred to as “a Swiss Army knife for your smartphone,” Gecko: a tiny wireless remote that acts as a low power Bluetooth device that makes your smart phone…well, smarter. It serves as everything from a lost-and-found, personal photographer, pet sitter, climate tracker, and even a home security system. Gecko was the first successful technology product crowdfunded from India and was backed by Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak.

“I love coming up with ideas and imaging what’s next. I don’t stop. I’m always thinking,” Bahubali smiles. “Klovechef is my third startup. Creating technology startups—that’s my passion. And cooking—that’s also my passion. Klovechef is a very unique and special company for me because it combines the two things I love the most: technology and cooking.”

The first Klovechef product hit the market in 2017.

“Initially, it started as hardware for kitchens. We created a knob that went on stovetops to remind you when your cooking was done,” he explains. “Software is more scaleable than hardware, so I shifted my focus to an AI-based solution that works on smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home. It’s been a fantastic journey so far.”

Accelerating Growth: Mentorship Is Key

Klovechef joined the Accelerator Centre in 2020 after being accepted into its Voice Technology Accelerator Program, Canada’s premiere accelerator and Alexa Fund collaboration to advance Canadian voicetech innovations.  The startup, now in The Accelerator Program®, is also an AC JumpStart grant recipient.  

“I think the Accelerator Centre is an awesome place,” Bahubali beams. “Each mentor is truly a star in their area. Everyone knows their discipline really, really well.”

The entrepreneur explains that, even though he has ample startup experience from his first two ventures, the mentorship that the AC provides is invaluable.

“I’ve never had a mentor meeting where I didn’t learn something. Every single one brings tremendous lessons and value. And I’m experienced in the startup world. I’m sure new entrepreneurs will learn even more.”

Like so many Canadian startups, Klovechef struggled to raise funds. But since working with Pitch Coach Specialist Melissa Durrell, Bahubali noticed investors began to pay attention. “After Melissa worked with me…it’s been so fantastic! After just two minutes of pitching, investors know what I’m saying. When pitching you have to summarize a lot of information very quickly in a way that makes sense but is still exciting. It’s not an easy thing to do. With Melissa’s help, our pitch hits all of the marks.”

Beyond the art of the pitch, brand storytelling is crucial to any company’s success, too. Bahubali laughs as he shares that Marketing and Communications Mentor Ellyn Winters-Robinson beat him up on the marketing and clarity of the Klovechef story. “She made our messaging very clear,” he says. “It’s great now.”

He adds: “Kevin Elop helped to get the financial story right. With his help, we have very clear fiscal projections. Investors ask way less questions now after following his advice. Kevin Hood has been so much help too. With his support we hired and trained two people in sales. I’m not a sales guy; Kevin played a huge role in getting us where we are today. And Don Thompson was key in bringing clarity to the product roadmap. I could give examples about them all. Each and every mentor has been wonderful.”

What’s Cooking?

Klovechef has helped to create two million meals so far with 675,000 users—120,000 of which are active every month. With new initiatives like launching a meal kit in partnership with Amazon India and being named a preferred partner with Amazon Alexa in Canada and The United States of America, its growth has only just begun.

In late September 2020, Klovechef secured 50% of its seed funding round in just ten days. In early October, the team secured 75% of the round, with plans to close it the same month. Needless to say, Klovechef is growing. Part of that growth process is securing new talent—the team is hiring multiple positions including CTO, AI Advisor and Product Marketing Pro.

“Cooking brings me so much joy. With Klovechef, anyone can walk into any kitchen and cook any dish they’d like. How great is that?”

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur like Bahubali or you’re new to the game, if you’re working on the next great Canadian voice tech innovation, the Accelerator Centre’s Voice Technology Accelerator Program is built for you.

While you learn more and apply, feel free to ask Alexa what you should cook for dinner. We know you’re wondering.

With Klovechef, you don’t have to wonder anymore.

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