Apprentice runner-up Nick Holzherr on launching food app Whisk
There’s nothing like a great home cooked meal, but when it comes to making one, it’s a bit of a pain to work out what you need, get everything together, and buy all your supplies. Thanks to Whisk, however, there’s an easy way out.
Whisk is a brand new recipe app launched this week by Nick Holzherr, runner-up on BBC’s The Apprentice. I’ve been a big fan for a while, trying out the beta. It’s now launched to the masses, and claims to be the most advanced food app ever created, incorporating advanced semantic and linguistic analysis to interpret recipes and add them automatically to an online shopping basket that can then be delivered direct to the door.
Whilst Holzherr has been the primary public representative of the company, he has worked with rising young stars of the tech world including his co-founder Craig Edmunds, who previously led the teams which developed the transactional functionality of LastMinute.com and Expedia.com. Dr David Brooks, who has a PhD in artificial intelligence from the University of Birmingham, is overseeing the machine learning and natural language processing functions of Whisk.
Holzherr said: “Lord Sugar was adamant that the technology was too complex to bother building, but we have proven that it can be done. 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 wanted to find out more about the inspiration behind Whisk, and Holzherr’s entrepreneurial motives, so we got in touch with Nick and he was more than happy to spare some time to tell us a bit more:
Where did you get the idea for Whisk?
My Co-Founder Craig Edmunds and I had been working on the idea for Whisk for almost 3 years prior to pitching it to Lord Sugar in the BBC Apprentice final. I love food and cooking, but don’t have very much patience to do grocery shopping as regularly as I’d like. The online grocery delivery industry is also getting to a point where it’s finally possible (technologically) to build functionality like Whisk.
When did you first start getting into business and wanting to be an entrepreneur?
I worked in more than 10 different jobs prior to starting my own business – most of them part-time jobs around school and university. I also spent a year working in Frankfurt at Deutsche Bank in International Investment Banking. While at University my interest in running my own company grew, and when I graduated I decided to give it a go.
How many people are involved in Whisk right now? Do you intend to recruit any time soon?
We currently have 15 people at Whisk, 12 in our Birmingham office. We’re always on the look out for intelligent people – specifically software people. We’re currently recruiting for Scala software engineers – some knowledge of AKKA would also be good. Anyone who has an interest in Semantic Analysis / Machine Learning would really enjoy working at Whisk. Great front-end / app developers should also get in touch.
What are your primary objectives for Whisk, looking forward in 2013?
Our objective for 2013 is to make our technology available for people to use with any recipe they want. We want to make Whisk genuinely useful so we’ll be refining everything we do based on all the feedback we get from users. We’ll integrate more supermarkets, integrate more recipe sites, add loads of new features – we have big and ambitious plans for 2013.
Do you have plans for any other unrelated business ventures alongside Whisk?
None :). Whisk is the 100% focus.
Whisk has continually expanded over the past months, and is becoming a well known brand. Working with large supermarket chains such as Waitrose and Tesco, as well as top celebrity chefs including Nigella Lawson, Whisk is now coming together to become the future of home cooking. The app became available this week on the iOS and Android app stores, and is also available to download from whisk.com.