Photo: Jumprope.

As a teen I was briefly obsessed with making a very complicated, cream puff-heavy pastry called a croquembouche. I tried to make it using text-heavy cookbooks and bad internet photos, but to no avail.

Maybe if guided cooking service Jumprope had been around I would have fared better. The startup creates how-to slideshow videos showing you how to do everything from makeup looks to crafting to cooking. It already has a mobile site and just launched its iOS app yesterday — at the same time it announced a $4.5 million seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners (h/t Techcrunch).

Jumprope is pretty similar to most guided cooking apps. You can search for and select a recipe, after which you can see a visual ingredient list and click through the various recipe steps, each of which has a gif for reference.

Guided cooking has been gaining momentum over the past few years. There’s Innit and SideChef, Allrecipes, Yummly, and Project Foodie, to name a few. Companies like Amazon and Google are also making smart displays to bring guided cooking (and their smart speakers/devices) into the kitchen.

In fact, Jumprope, which was founded in 2017, is kind of late to the game (though admittedly they’re offering how-to’s for a lot more than cooking). But what could set Jumprope apart is its UX, which reminded me a lot of cooking how-to videos on Instagram from companies like Buzzfeed Tasty or Bon Appetit. Each how-to bit is illustrated with a short gif on a loop. It’s also super low-touch: no fancy paired induction cooktop or pan required — just a smartphone.

Youtube tutorials get billions of views teaching people how to do, well, everything. Jumprope is streamlining that process and chopping it up into little bite-sized gifs, so you can easily fast forward or rewind, even with greasy fingers. It also gets all its content from users, meaning it’s likely cheap to produce and easy to get a ton — though the quality of said content won’t necessarily be great.

I could see Jumprope integrating with an e-commerce service like Instacart or Amazon Fresh to make their recipes shoppable. That would mean users could decide to make meatballs, order all the ingredients for delivery that day (cause millennials love convenience), then cook them, all from one app.

It’s too soon to tell if Jumprope will be able to compete in the how-to cooking space with giants like Instagram or more established startups like SideChef and Innit. But I’m betting it will be a hit with millennials and especially Gen Z who are friendly with other gif-ified networks like Snapchat.

Here’s hoping they add a how-to gif guide for croquembouche

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