Humans are incredible. We put a man on the moon. We discovered the structure of DNA and penicillin. We created art like The Starry Night and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. We built cities and empires like Rome and Cairo. And even in the most desperate of times in war and peace, we are resilient. We show love and empathy towards each other. We are truly an extraordinary species and we've proven ourselves to be kings and queens of our home, our earth, our pale blue dot.
And yet why is it that so many people find their work un-fulfilling? Why is it that so many people have to work minimum wage jobs they hate just to put bread on the table? As a society, we've come to accept that some people must simply do work they don't find fulfilling to pay the bills. But does it have to be that way? Is there a law of physics or of the human condition that says fulfilling work is zero sum and that some people cannot love their work? At Chef, we believe and are working to create a future where we all have an opportunity to self-actualize our highest potential, to be innovative and creative, to lead others, to create art, and to love others. In other words, we want to empower humans to be, well, human!
Our hammer to implement this goal is technology. Throughout modern human history, technology has been a force of change, a constant and unending idée fixe. The Gutenberg printing press freed humans from the toil of manually copying books by hand and empowered them to read and learn. The Jethro Tull freed humans away from the manually planting seeds and allowed them to focus on other endeavors. The spinning jenny freed humans to produce clothing at scale. The steam engine freed humans away from manually creating mechanical power to using electricity to build the modern world.
In other words, technology has a tendency to take redundant and unfulfilling jobs like copying manuscripts or planting seeds or spinning cotton and create even more fulfilling and human jobs (think about it--was "social media manager" a job title before Facebook? And yet how many people do SEM now?). Today is no different as one of the largest professions in the world, being a line cook, is an extremely dull and dangerous job -- leading to massive turnover rates as people find try unsuccessfully to find more fulfilling work. But what if it didn't have to be that way? At Chef, we're on a mission to empower humans to do what humans do best, and allow machines to do what machines do best. Initially we're starting with helping food service brands assemble food for delivery orders. Why start with food and delivery? Right now delivery is growing like wild fire, leading to the creation of 'ghost kitchens' where restaurants move their kitchen to the 'cloud' (a la moving retail to the cloud like Amazon did compared to Wal-Mart). This is the perfect grounds for robots. Imagine a future where it's cheaper for you to order your food from your phone, get it made by a robot (i.e., Chef) in a ghost kitchen, and then have it delivered by a robot (UAV, UGV, AV) than it is for you to cook food at home.... Economically this will happen (and UBS estimates it'll be a $350B industry by 2030). What's exciting is that in the process we can remove unfulfilling jobs that most people don't like anyways to create better jobs.
But this is only our short term mission. This is the way we want to build a business that allows us to accomplish even more ambitious goals. Ponder this: the largest parts of food cost are generally real estate and labor. If one can reduce labor costs significantly (say using autonomy) and reduce real estate by having a fully self-sustaining system in a low footprint, then in theory one can drive food costs to almost nil (raw food at scale is very cheap). Through this method, we want to build fully autonomous mini soup kitchens that can serve food at a price point of $1 while making money (and thus in a sustainable way), bringing sustainable and healthy food to the masses and putting a dent in malnutrition in America and hunger across the world. Imagine a future where every street corner has a Chef system where anyone can put in a $1 and get a fresh meal out. A future where nobody has to eat McDonald's because it's the only thing she can afford. This is our Mars mission. But to get there, we need to build a sustainable business to fund the technology development.
None of this is easy. But it's important. And no matter how hard they are, important things must be done. Join us on our mission to help empower humans to do what humans do best, change a multi-millennia old tradition of cooking at home, and put a dent in the global hunger crisis. We need all the support we can get.