Author: Laura Ibañez
Cocinario  is the first social network for cooking fans in Spanish. It is a website devoted to anyone that cooks at home, either experts or novices. It works as a truly vertical social network, as users c an share content, follow other users, like recipes or ingredients, publish comments and send private messages.
The revenue model is based on the sale of advertising and other ways to monetize the segmented Cocinario´s community and audience.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO DEVELOP COCINARIO?
The idea emerged because I was a fan of digital business, social networks and cooking and I realized there was a lot of participation on the Internet about cooking but there wasn’t any useful and easy-to-use platform that allowed mid and low profile internet users to share their recipes and interact.
So I thought that there was a space for a website that could democratize the ability of sharing this kind of content. Until then, anyone that wanted to publish and share their recipes or cooking knowledge on the Internet had to publis
h their own blog or write in forums or other confusing platforms where the recipes weren’t correctly indexed nor easily found.
Besides, I had been learning about the market of ad selling on the Internet and I knew about some publicity-based businesses that were going well and I also knew about some others that weren’t going so well, because the costs of producing and distributing the content were too high. Cocinario is a 100% user generated content website, so the costs are lower and the business model makes sense.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON THIS IDEA?
More than one year passed from the moment when the idea emerged to the moment that we launched the website. No one was fully dedicated to Cocinario then, so it took us a bit longer than expected (as usual!).
When the website was ready to be launched I decided to fully support the project, so I left my “comfortable” job to dedicate myself full time to Cocinario. I had been working for DHL in a managment positions for 13 years and I was doing really well there, but I needed to do more things and I felt pigeonholed. It was time to reinvent myself.
Now, with less than one year of life, Cocinario already has 2.000 recipes published by its more than 5.500 registered users.
HOW DOES COCINARIO WORK?
Cocinario is a 100% user generated content website, and the content is open to anyone that visits www.cocinario.es  Registered users can also enjoy Cocinario’s useful features:
- Publish recipes very easily, that can also be shared in other social networks
- Follow other users, to be aware of the content they publish
- Like a recipe, that will be automatically filed in your own personal cookbook
- Like an ingredient, to be aware of new recipes published with that ingredient
It is very useful platform for a wide range of people:
- Cooking fans who want to share their recipes and cooking knowledge but don’t have the time or technical knowledge to have their own blog. In Cocinario they can publish their recipes very easily and they can share them with whoever they want
- Cooking bloggers that want to interact with other cooking fans or that just want to promote their blog
- People that have to cook at home even if they don’t know how to do it or maybe even don’t like it. They can find practical day to day recipes in Cocinario
WHAT IS COCINARIO’S BUSINESS MODEL?
The income comes from advertising sales, e-mail marketing and other ways to monetize Cocinario’s community and audience.
Basically, the business model is the same of any traditional media or internet media (TV, radio, press, magazines, etc.). It consists of having an audience and finding advertisers that want to reach this audience. In this case, the audience is very segmented, so it is much more attractive for certain advertisers.
In a user generated content website like Cocinario, we don’t have to pay for the content. Instead, we have to provide an engaging platform, so that users want to use it and share their content there because they find it useful and enjoyable.
Cocinario is built with a high level technical development. The website is complex on the inside, to make it simple and easy to use it on the outside, so that the users find it very intuitive and friendly.
WHAT KIND OF INVESTORS OR FINANCING DOES THE COMPANY HAVE?
Founders investment and ENISA.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHALLENGES AT THE MOMENT?
On one hand, we are focused on having a fast paced growth in terms of content, users and visits. On the other hand, now that we have grown to a very decent size, we are managing to access better Internet advertising platforms or even direct advertisers that allow us to monetize the product better.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS NEEDED TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR?
First of all, I think an entrepreneur has to be a responsible and organized person. It may sound obvious, but it is not always the case. It is also crucial to be enthusiastic, positive and have a strong bias for action.
I also think that it is good to have some previous experience working for others and ideally with responsibility over a business.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO POTENTIAL ENTREPRENEURS?
I would recommend anyone to follow his/her dreams, of course. But also I would recommend to try not to excessively fall in love with the idea. I mean, try to be realistic. Think about how the business will work, what do you need to convert your idea into something real and what resources you need to have it operating on a daily basis once it is launched. Do some numbers to see if it can be a profitable business. If not, your idea may be beautiful and even something very nice and useful but… is it a BUSINESS idea? It is an important nuance.
Try to learn as much as you can, about the market you want to step in and about businesses in general. Introduce yourself in the market you want to compete in and understand how it works. Watch competitors or substitutes of the product you want to launch, their suppliers and customers, etc.
For the first steps of an entrepreneurial project, I think it is crucial to test the idea with simple market research and a prototype or MVP.
I also would recommend to try to find a mentor with experience in the market you want to compete in and/or in other startups.
I wish you tons of luck!!