Steve in his kitchen
I love to cook. It's a fun, creative activity that can be enjoyed every single day.
My occasional travels abroad convince me that we Americans are missing out if we don't make at-home family meals a higher priority.
Meals are about sharing. They should be savored. I think we'd all benefit by slowing down a bit, and focusing more on the nightly family dinner. Life is too short, and the many lasting benefits of regular all-family meals are well-documented.
In addition to cooking, I also love technology and the Web. So, back in 2000, I began to look closely at how the Web could help each of us solve the "what can I make tonight?" problem that hits us every day. Most of the recipe sites I tried at the time seemed, to me, overly cluttered with ads, and not really targeted at the end-to-end problem we face in putting together a meal, from recipe discovery through grocery shopping, savings and tip-sharing. I thought that your recipes, grocery list, and meal plan (if you have an explicit one) should be portable and mobile. I thought there should be a place where people could meet, swap their favorite recipes, and plan their meals more easily.
BigOven is all about solving this "what should we make tonight?" problem, in a personalized way, for you. It's a place for you to go to get unstuck for dinner. It's a social network that makes you a better cook.BigOven's grown dramatically since I launched it. As just one measure, as of February 2013, BigOven had over 8 million downloads of our mobile apps. More than 1.8 million registered members and millions of monthly unique users use BigOven to get inspired in the kitchen. We've got leading cooking apps for Android, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android tablets and NOOK. BigOven has been featured in The New York Times Dining Section (Jan 2009) and the Saveur 100 in (Dec 2008). BigOven won "Best Recipe App, Readers Choice" for 2012 and 2011. BigOven was named one of Apple’s 100 Most Popular Apps for the iPhone for all of 2008.
But it's primarily still a labor of love.
I'm lucky enough at this stage of my life where money isn't my top priority; this freedom allows a great deal of flexibility. Thirty years ago, not yet in junior high school, I furiously ripped open the box to a brand new Apple ][+ and wrote my first program. I pretty quickly decided that's what I wanted to do with my life, and went to Carnegie Mellon University for an Applied Math/Computer Science degree, then to Stanford University in California for a Masters in Computer Science. I worked at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) for a couple years on telecommunications research for the telephone companies, and then, wanting to build a business in technology, I went to Harvard Business School for an MBA. I worked for Microsoft for about 7 years, helping to launch Microsoft Access and then leading Microsoft's Internet multiplayer gaming efforts, then left and started an online travel company, VacationSpot.com, which grew pretty quickly before it was acquired by Expedia Inc. in 2000. At Expedia, I led the vacation packages team, and helped create the first air + hotel + destination services packaging platform on the Internet, before departing in early 2002. That's when work on BigOven really started in earnest.
On BigOven.com, you get a lot of stuff for free. You'll meet people from all around the world who are cooking meals at home.
I think the daily chore of deciding what to cook each night, getting the household grocery list assembled, visiting the store, making it, plating it, and sharing your successes and tips with others can be made easier, and more fun, with great people and great software.
What are your dreams for the site? What would help you answer the "what should I make tonight?" problem? How can BigOven be a better solution for you? Drop by the Feedback Section and send us your thoughts. We're listening!