Interview with Christopher Verster-Cohen, UCOOK

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Interview with Christopher Verster-Cohen, UCOOK


Describe yourself in 1 sentence

Totally committed to not being able to describe myself in one sentence.

I cannot start my day without…

Great coffee.

What made you decide to start UCOOK?

We started UCOOK in 2014, David and I because we wanted to educate people on how easy it is to cook healthy meals every day. Our focus has always been on bringing fresh, organic and seasonal ingredients from farm to fork and showing people great ways to prepare the ingredients – with help from a few interesting collaborators.

Describe the ideal UCOOK customer

Anyone and everyone. There’s a UCOOK box for everyone – whether you’re a bachelor living alone, or a family with different food tastes.

How is UCOOK different from other food delivery services?

UCOOK has been built on the strength of great collaborations. Our customer base looks forward to interesting and exciting partnerships with great chefs like Sarah Graham, Franck Dangereux, Liam Tomlin and many others. Our recipes are always interesting and delicious and our customers enjoy the process of learning how to make great food. In addition, we place a huge emphasis on eating ethically – the sourcing of local, seasonal and organic ingredients. We are very proud of the suppliers we support, and this is reflected in the quality of our ingredients.

How have you used online marketing to build the UCOOK brand?

One thing everybody loves is food, and seeing beautiful images of food. Our teams put a lot of effort into ensuring each dish is photographed beautifully and exactly how it will appear on your plate at home, before sharing them with our 35k Instagram followers. Our customers love being kept up to date with the menus that are live on our site, and we have a dedicated team that ensures this information is conveyed in a conversational manner, through social media and through regular emailers. Beyond this, we take time to create engaging campaign videos that – much like our dishes – are designed to be shared.

How does UCOOK work with affiliate marketing?

AdMarula is one of UCOOK’s key affiliate marketing partners. The benefit of an affiliate partner to an online business is their ability to access a wide network of affiliate websites to produce sales and generate exposure to an audience that they would not have traditionally have been exposed to.

Affiliate marketing is very important to UCOOK performance strategy, finding the right affiliate partner can be very powerful. AdMarula has been successful in assisting us to generate new leads, new customer acquisition, the growth of monthly revenues and assisting the businesses in hitting its annual growth targets.

Is it really cheaper to use UCOOK than to buy groceries at the supermarket?

Our pricing is extremely competitive. All our ingredients are perfectly portioned in the UCOOK boxes which means that there is no wastage. If you shop at a supermarket then you’re likely buying a larger pack of a particular ingredient – all of which you won’t need for a recipe. Quite often the leftovers are discarded or go past their sell-by date before being used. In addition, not having to go to the shops as often means that you’re less likely to purchase non-essential or ‘indulgent’ items, which brings your overall grocery bill down.

Biggest challenges/lessons learnt when you started up the business?

As a pioneer in the category in South Africa we’ve learnt loads of lessons along the way. As an example, in the first few days of operation we completely forgot to include the recipes in our boxes. Our orders went from 24 to zero in the matter of a day. We’re grateful for each challenge we’ve faced as it’s a forced learning experience from which we’ve grown.

Which is your favourite UCOOK box?

I love the weeks when we feature a collaborator – whether it’s Sarah Graham, Kamini Pather or J’Something (the musician), they always bring something completely different to the line-up which keeps it exciting, especially for us ‘UCOOK-ers’.

Visit UCOOK’s website:

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