For the past decade, we’ve been living in a creator economy, fueled in no small part by the rise of viral TikTok videos, YouTube tutorials, and podcasts. It takes the dedication of time and effort to create something that people might enjoy enough to come back for more—and a great piece of content has many of the same attributes as a great meal. That’s the premise behind a new foodie-inspired app called flavrs, designed to inspire your next meal and make shopping a little bit easier… but also to keep you scrolling.
What is the flavrs app?
“Flavrs is built for people who live to eat,” the app’s creators recently told The Takeout. “These are the people who enjoy food, who see it as an extension of themselves and as a way of expressing themselves.”
The company recently received $7 million in seed money from VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, along with several other investment firms, to build the app. It works by presenting quick, bite-sized “premium” videos from content creators such as food bloggers and chefs. These creators share cooking demonstrations, and the videos are designed with a direct Instacart integration so that the viewer, inspired by a particular recipe, can shop for all the ingredients instantly. It’s a form of shoppable content, which is growing in popularity among online food vendors.
Currently, flavrs is in the beta testing stage, scheduled to debut in the next few months—and I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the beta testers. So, on a recent Wednesday morning, I downloaded the app with a mission to find out how this video-to-shopping-cart integration works.
How food videos entice us
True to its brand identity—watch, shop, eat—flavrs is indeed very simple. Think of it as TikTok’s For You Page, refilling with more suggested content the more you swipe. After signing up for an account, I was greeted with a random assortment of videos, all of which were 30 seconds or less.
I found myself immediately drawn to these simple, short videos. Some recipes, I could tell, were sped up for the purposes of the video, the way BuzzFeed’s “Tasty” videos occasionally are. (Ah, if only I could make Hot Honey Air Fryer Salmon in just 30 seconds. How wonderful would my weeknights be?) The more I swiped, the more content the app served me.
All of the videos featured dishes that looked impeccable and delicious; flavrs does a great job of convincing me, the user, that these are all recipes I can replicate at home, regardless of skill level or time constraints. It all gave the impression that the creator and I were in this together—the same feeling that a cooking segment on the Today show was always designed to invoke, back when watching daytime television was considered cool.
Testing out online grocery shopping through flavrs
Sure, the videos are enticing, but will they actually change the way we grocery shop and cook? To test flavrs’ integration with Instacart, I chose a random recipe from a video I liked, selected “Add to Cart,” and signed up for an Instacart account. (If you already have an Instacart account, it’ll be slightly more seamless to log in via flavrs.)
When I proceeded to the checkout page, I found that you need to order at least $10 worth of ingredients to qualify for free shopping. Since I had many of the ingredients in my pantry already, I only needed to order two items from Instacart to make the meal—and those two items would take an hour and a half to get to my house from the nearest grocery store approximately 1.2 miles away. Additionally, the order would cost me a $4 service fee, a surcharge that increases depending on your address relative to city boundaries.
Yes, for that same hour and a half, I could head to the nearest grocery store (about a five-minute drive away), grab the ingredients, come back, and still have time to make my Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes twice before my Instacart delivery arrived. But we don’t always have that kind of time, and occasionally we’re willing to pay a premium for convenience. So for the sake of the experiment, I waited. Additionally, in the spirit of a beta tester, I entered other addresses that I knew were farther away, just to see when such items might arrive from the time I ordered.
The result? Somewhere between two to three and a half hours.
The fun food app that might not be for everyone
I asked flavrs’ founders, François Chu and Alejandro Oropeza, two tech-savvy foodies who both spent many years at Google, how they plan on making money from this platform.
“As the ecosystem scales, there will be other ways to drive value for users and creators,” they said, “but for now our focus is on creating the best user experience in food on the planet and driving value for our creators.”
Overall, flavrs seems like a viable option for someone who doesn’t mind waiting for their Instacart delivery—and if they’re already an Instacart customer, they are indeed probably habituated to this. Someone who’s new to cooking, or someone who prefers thinking about their meal prep as little as possible, could also find flavrs appealing. It’s a place to gain inspiration for your weeknight dinner or weekend brunch, but it is certainly not an everyday solution for the budget-conscious consumer.
While I recognize that there are many who may enjoy this app’s version of convenience, for me, the particular creator behind a given recipe doesn’t hold enough sway to reinvent my approach to shopping and cooking. It’s not about who’s presenting the recipe, but whether or not the recipe works and tastes good exactly as presented.