🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week: Shef
 ✍️ Notes From The Editors  
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Enjoy homemade meals from your neighbors
Shef is a marketplace that allows people to sell their homemade dishes to others in their neighborhood. This allows people to try authentic cuisines while supporting their community.
🔗 Check them out: www.shef.com
💰 Business Model
Shef collects a 15% transaction fee from each order. Delivery and service fees depend on the region. All tips go to the cook (also known as the shef). It has been described as “Airbnb for Food.”
📈 Traction and Fundraising
  • Served 500,000+ dishes to customers across the U.S.
  • Took part in Y Combinator W19 batch
  • Raised $20 million Series A with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and Craft Ventures in addition to celebrity investors including Padma Lakshmi, Chef Aarón Sánchez, Katy Perry, Tiffany Haddish, Orlando Bloom, and NBA All-Star Andre Iguodala
👫 Founder(s)
  • Alvin Salehi, Co-CEO: Currently Research Affiliate @ Harvard Law School, Venture Partner @ NextGen Venture Partners; Previously Co-founder @ Code.gov, Senior Technology Advisor @ The White House, JD @ USC, Communication Management MA @ USC, Political Science and Broadcast Journalism BA @ USC
  • Joey Grassia, Co-CEO: Previously Founder & CEO @ Steamm Espresso (Acquired), Co-founder @ Dapper Goat Social Media, International Development, Chinese Language @ UCLA
🔮 Our Analysis
People often complain that tasting a culture’s cuisine at a restaurant is not the same as tasting its homemade meals. Shef changes this by enabling people to taste authentic homemade food while local cooks, named “shefs,” earn an income by making food for their community. For shefs, it means an income of around $1,000 per week without the headache, risk, and commitment of opening a restaurant, all while allowing them the flexibility to choose when they want to work. Shef also serves as an alternate source of income for mostly women and people of color, who make up 83% and 92% of its shefs, respectively. However, building this two-sided marketplace isn’t easy. One challenge Shef faces is ensuring food is prepared safely, which they have tackled by having every shef pass a food safety exam. Another larger challenge is with laws preventing the sale of homemade food. In regions without home cooking laws, shefs cook out of “commercial kitchens or other legally permissible facilities.” However, the company told us that “44 home cooking bills were introduced across 29 states in the last year alone, so we're hopeful that we'll see a bunch of new home cooking laws come into effect soon so that more people can gain access to a meaningful income.” It will also use part of its recent funding to lobby for home cooking laws. Shef’s challenges are great, but if successful, it can prove to be another industry shift for the consumer.
📚 Further Reading
Made with 💜 by the Unicorner Team 🦄
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🎁 Bonus Content!
Remember our cover of Kalshi? As of this week, Kalshi has opened up trading on event outcomes to a public beta. We’re excited about this news and wish the best for the team.
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