25 Jul 2017 | 09.06 am
Foodoppi Teaches Kids To Appreciate Good Food
Online food network has all the ingredients for a healthy education
25 Jul 2017 | 09.06 am
Foodoppi might be an answer to Ireland’s chronic shortage of chefs — if restaurants are prepared to wait a few years. The 2016 startup runs an online food network for children, featuring videos, recipes and competitions, with a sprinkling of science thrown in too. It also organises sponsored events and promotions around food.
The startup was founded by Louise Lennox and Aisling Larkin. Louise is a chef, food writer and PR consultant, who appears regularly on television – she’s the pastry chef from the RTE show ‘The Restaurant’. Aisling is also a television regular and has hosted live food workshops at the Taste of Dublin, Electric Picnic and the National Ploughing Championship. She also founded the academy for junior chefs at the Cliff at Lyons, which is where she met Louise.
“Foodoppi offers creative educational resources to primary schools as well as e-learning training programmes for teachers. For our gastronomy events and collaborations, we primarily deal with communications, marketing and events agencies, as well as festival organisers and corporates,” Aisling explains.
The Foodoppi founders have put together a food education programme that they’d like to see on the primary school curriculum. In the meantime, Foodoppi connects with 3,000 primary schools through a newsletter, while the website and social media are also used to good effect. “We make screen time a positive experience by moving children from digital screens to a real-life activities,” Aisling adds.
“For youngsters, we learned very quickly that for them the world of dot com is dead. We need to engage with them where they are, so we go have a tribe of over 7,000 creative children on PopJam, a safe and curated social app platform.”
The business has recently expanded into the UK, where Foodoppi creates content for a monthly STEM-focused online publication, with a distribution of over 29,000 schools. The main revenue streams are its e-learning teacher training programmes and its gastronomy events, which involve corporate collaboration.
“We can partner with brands by participating in sponsored campaigns on our Foodoppi digital platform and our social media,” says Aisling. “Typically, a brand approaches us and we work together to develop original content.”
The founders kept startup costs down by launching a Minimum Viable Product online platform. “We have put a huge amount of resources into market research,” she adds. “We then went to our board of advisors, mentors and some of the smartest people in the industry and asked them for their thoughts and opinions.”
Foodoppi is based in the Media Cube in Dun Laoghaire, which Aisling says has a great startup vibe. “A lot of the companies there are young and emerging, which makes it a very innovative and inspiring place to work.” Using Enterprise Ireland and LEO support, they are continuing to expand the Foodoppi business model. The challenge, says Aisling, is to stay focused on its core proposition as a food-centric media company.
“We have had some very interesting offers and project opportunities but we are not getting distracted or making decisions for the wrong reasons. I think we’ve done very well so far – we have been disciplined and strategic.”
Photo: Aisling Larkin (left) and Louise Lennon