In just two years, Tasty has become a sensation in the world of food with its quirky cooking videos that have changed how millions of people discover recipes and make meals. With over a billion video views a month, Buzzfeed’s food brand is usually at the top of the list of video publishers worldwide.
Now, the fast growing media company is looking to tap into the runaway success of Tasty with the launch of One Top, a $149 induction cooktop and temperature probe that combines with Tasty’s cooking video-powered app to provide a guided cooking system.
One Top’s development was headed up by Ben Kaufman, the head of Buzzfeed Product Labs. Some will remember Kaufman from his tenure as CEO of Quirky, the innovative product incubator which created such concepts as connected egg trays. While Quirky ultimately hit rough waters, it seems the left field thinking that defined Kaufman’s tenure at his former company might great fit for a company like Buzzfeed.
And let’s be honest: a piece of cooking hardware from a media brand like Buzzfeed is, if anything, left field thinking.
Making Tasty A Utility
Kaufman and his team spent much of the past year working on the One Top. But first, they had to go back and turn Tasty’s library of videos into something that could be used for a guided cooking system.
“Before we even committed to building an appliance, we were committing to make Tasty more of a utility,” Kaufman told The Spoon in a phone interview. To do that, “we went through every Tasty video of all time and time coded each step of the process so the video can loop in the app until you’re ready to go onto the next step. We were thinking, how can we boil this down in a way to make it more of a utility?”
In helping build the One Top, Kaufman was also able to tap into his connections at FirstBuild, the product-lab/microfactory owned by GE which he worked with closely during his time at Quirky. FirstBuild has spent the past couple years creating their own kitchen-centric product concepts like the Paragon, an induction cooktop that looks at first blush like the One Top.
I asked Kaufman if they were able to leverage the work FirstBuild did with the Paragon in developing the One Top.
“The Paragon is a great device,” said Kaufman. “I had one and used one and would be lying if I didn’t say it was a major source of inspiration for this project.”
But Kaufman said they spent a lot of time improving on what the Paragon team did, including moving beyond a simple probe-based temperature sensor to make the cooktop itself able to sense surface cooking temperature.
“We really looked to differentiate the product from the Paragon with temperature tracking at both the surface level and the probe level,” said Kaufman. “We have that dual sensor technology which will allow us to hold the temperature on the bottom the pan, which is great for searing, slow cooking and a variety of other cooking applications.”
Another major difference is they built the product to scale a much wider audience. Unlike the Paragon which is built in the FirstBuilt Louisville Kentucky based microfactory, the One Top’s manufacturing will be overseen by GE Appliance in China, which will give Tasty access to the appliance company’s highly-scalable manufacturing facilities which are, in large part, responsible for the low $149 presale and $175 suggested retail price points.
By tapping into Tasty’s massive audience, the company may have a recipe for hardware success. One of the biggest challenges for any hardware startup is simply getting the word out. By surfacing the One Top to the 420 million monthly Tasty viewers, the company could have a successful hardware business even if a small number of those viewers actually become One Top owners.