The sharing economy has been on the top of the tech agenda in recent years. With sharing giants such as Airbnb, ZipCar, Blablacar, etc as well as various events centered on it, including Le Web London in June and the recent Ouisharefest.com, this continues to be a growing area that’s still ripe for innovation. As we pointed out a couple of months ago, this is an area where France has had quite a few successes as of late. One up-and-comer that’s starting to get a lot of attention is La Belle Assiette, a service where users can book a professional chef to cook for them in their homes, businesses, etc.
La Belle Assiette, which launched in early 2012, has already garnered quite a bit of positive buzz, press and accolades having, for example, received the Best E-commerce innovation award from FEVAD and Journal du Net in 2012. Not even year two years old, they are now the number one marketplace in Europe between Chefs and customers and, according to co-founder Stephen Leguillon, continue to reach major milestones such as the fact that now “everyday in France someone is having a La Belle Assiette meal at lunch or dinner”. So, what started out primarily as service offering at home dinners for friends and family, has now expanded to include new segments such as small businesses and dinning occasions (ie business lunches, cocktails, etc).
Matching the needs of chefs, who are passionate about what they do and often underutilized, with consumers, who are looking for new, high-quality dinning experiences, is basically at the core of what they do. What they learned early on was that many established and aspiring chefs much prefer opportunities that give them the ability to create their own menus and dining experiences rather than being confined to a restaurant kitchen under someone else’s command. La Belle Assiette offers them that opportunity. In addition, chefs also have access to a platform that enables them to manage their reservations, see the profitability of their meals, and review feedback from customers. For the customer, La Belle Assiette offers them the opportunity to have a top-notch culinary experience in their home or office. Before booking through La Belle Assiette’s easy to use and beautiful interface, they can check-out previous reviews of chefs, select a chef whose menu and culinary focus most corresponds to their interests, and, if they want, request a meal customized for their specific preferences. All chefs on La Belle Assiette are tested by the Belle Assiette team and/or ‘guest tasters’ before they’re accepted on the platform. Those who really stand-out from the pack are awarded the LBA verified designation. This combined with the user rating system, gives users additional reassurance about the high quality of the experience.
Having expanded to six cities in France, the next logical step for the team is to look abroad. Their biggest competitor outside of France is Kitchensurfing which for the moment is in the US and Berlin and has raised a total of $4.5 million to date to fuel their expansion. La Belle Assiette should soon be able to do the same and, as a result, will be well-positioned to leverage their current success to consolidate and expand their leadership position in Europe and beyond.