Image credit: Josephine

Josephine, the startup that gave home cooks a platform to sell their own food, is shutting down. According to a Medium post by Josephine CEO Charley Wang, the last date for meals on the platform will be March 30.

From that post:

We knew that Josephine was an ambitious idea from day one and, as you all know, there have been many highs and lows over the years. At this point, our team has simply run out of the resources to continue to drive the legislative change, business innovation, and broader cultural shift needed to build Josephine.

The company had faced legal ups and downs as the service rolled out across the country as so-called cottage food laws are a patchwork nationally, varying from state to state.

Josephine scored a victory last year when the California Health Committee voted yes to send the “2017 Homemade Food Act (AB 626)” on to the state house, though it looks like the bill is still being amended. But Washington state was slow to create a pilot program for cottage food sales, forcing Josephine to shut down operations there this past December.

The Spoon’s own Mike Wolf was a fan of Josephine (and the peach cobbler he ordered through it). As he wrote earlier:

“Because of the win-win nature of Uber models, it was only a matter of time before they ended up in the home kitchen. Not only are companies aspiring to give grannies and wannabe chefs a way to share their home cooking, but large appliance companies are beginning to explore ways to enable buyers of their products to share them via an Uber-like marketplace.”

But strict regulations are not always bad, especially when it comes to making sure the kitchen making your clam chowder is a clean one. Josephine had raised more than $2 million from Kapor Capital and angel investors. From Josephine’s post, it sounds like the company couldn’t find more money to get over the hurdle where buying someone’s home cooked meal went from weird to a new normal.

And while Josephine is shutting its doors, there are others still searching for that perfect pairing of home cooking and the sharing economy. One such company is Feastly, which matches hungry diners with chefs who serve meals in their own homes. Pull Up A Seat is a service similar to Josephine that fashions itself as the ‘Etsy for home cooks’. Then there’s Eatwith and Mealsharing, both Airbnb-like marketplaces for home cooks to sell ‘meal experiences’ to travelers. And finally, there’s Airbnb itself, where some enterprising hosts are using the company’s “experiences” platform to offer home-cooked food.

So don’t give up yet. Perhaps there’s still a chance for you to find that delicious peach cobbler from someone in your own neighborhood or on the other side of the world.

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  1. Curious Problem – what if Josephines gave away the food like you would do with a friend, but asked the customer to bring a nice bottle of wine? The home cook could always give away the food – there’s no law against that and then the business would actually be selling the wine back to distributors. I loved Josephines and the idea behind it. Just trying to think of a way to make it work legally – alcohol may be a problem, so perhaps something else of value is a better trade. I don’t think bartering is illegal.

  2. “But strict regulations are not always bad…” What an asinine comment, in my opinion. Let’s remember who determines if regulations are good or bad—the PEOPLE. It’s called DEMOCRACY. That is, if the citizens of California want to use these new services like Uber, AirBnB, or even Josephine, the regulations have to change to adapt to the people’s will. It’s that simple. For older people such as yourself, such an idea has been lost. Such a shame. Hopefully Millennials can bring it back.

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