Ever get frustrated trying to find where you can get a kosher meal when traveling or having to schlep kosher food with you wherever you go. Well a new startup called Koshwhere.com promises a solution.
It is not clear exactly how many people actually keep kosher. But estimates are that more than one million people worldwide identify as Orthodox Jews and all of them probably do.
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Finding packaged products with a kosher certification may be easy in the West, but not in most of the world. And Jewish travelers also want the opportunity to have fresh cooked meals and not just eat out of a can with some fruits and vegetables, or instant meals in a cup all of the time. Also, outside of major city centers like New York and London, kosher restaurants are few and far between.
The Lubavitch Hasidic movement – also known as Chabad – is renowned for providing kosher food to Jewish travelers in some of the world’s most remote places, from Katmandu to Nairobi. But they do not have the resources to always provide fresh meals on demand and generally offer group meals on Shabbat and holidays.
So what does Koshwhere.com do, exactly?
Founded in early 2015, Koshwhere boasts that it is the only online delivery platform for travelers which offers them the ability to pre-order fresh and hot kosher meals around the world. It currently has a network of more than 400 kosher kitchens and offers kosher deliveries to more than 200, 000 non-kosher hotels. People can also get deliveries to their Airbnb apartments or to a public place if they desire, in participating cities.
The service is available even in cities like New York where there is certainly no lack of kosher restaurants to order from.
Koshwhere currently employs a small team of only seven people who work in customer service, placing the orders and in finding new suppliers. This is the beauty of the business model and why the company needed no startup capital to get off the ground: Koshwhere has no need for a complex infrastructure as it is a services oriented company. It is a broker which connects the consumer to the desired product.
The company is the brainchild of David Avital, a veteran of the IDF technology and computer center (MAMRAM elite unit) where he served as a leader of enterprise projects involving SAN, NAS and virtualization technologies.
David explained to Jewish Business News his reasons for starting Koshwhere. “I traveled close to one million miles around the world and I keep kosher and it was always such a hassle carrying kosher food with me everywhere, ” he said.
“So I thought, why not connect kosher travelers around the world with kosher food.”
David Avital also explained the importance of offering people fresh cooked kosher food, as opposed to eating tuna fish from a can. “This isn’t just about convenience, it’s also about providing people with a sense of comfort and home cooking, ” he said.
Mr. Avital is an Israeli with more than 12 years of experience in enterprise, consumer and mobile technologies. He served as a marketing manager at Marvell Semiconductor, where he developed a small factor computer, called plug computer
And if you think that you can just contact the Chabad centers wherever you go and do not need any middle man, David Avital has an answer for you.
“We actually work with the Chabad and order meals from them. The rabbis don’t have the time or resources to prepare individual meals so we bring them enough business to make it worthwhile for them to over individual meals to travelers.”
Koshwhere is also marketing itself as a way for kosher restaurants to promote themselves. Instead of people ordering take out or catered meals on Shabbat, Koshwhere does the ordering for them which it says brings new business to restaurants and helps them to gain more exposure.