Interview: Meet the Gojee Team!

This week we featured a new cooking site, Gojee, that takes a unique approach to helping you find great meals to make. You can find the foods that you can cook with the ingredients you already have. The only problem is, the pictures look so good you’ll wish you could just hit print and get your meal immediately.

We’ve gotten to do an interview with the Gojee team as well. They’re an interesting team that wants to make sure the world can eat better, easier. After the break, you’ll hear about their favorite hot drink, why they love cooking, and the tornado that attacks their workplace daily.

Tell us a bit about the Gojee Team. What makes you excited to get to work on Gojee in the morning?

We’re 7 people and a berry that’s looking to have a good time. During the day, all of us sit around this big table that we call “the tornado”. We have these colored “territory markers” to identify off everyone’s work space. And then we just look at food pictures all day. We all eat breakfast, lunch, dinner together. Everyone also gets a gym membership, because our belts started getting tight about 3 months in..

Honestly, I think we all get excited about getting to work every morning because we’re hungry for breakfast… it’s the little things in life.

Team Gojee working around the Tornado. Everyone say "hi" to Veronica, our Priestess of Recipes

Is Gojee your only product? Are there any other exciting things you’ve worked on?

This is actually version 3 of Gojee. We previously worked on two other incarnations of the site. We were excited about both, but our test users weren’t.

What inspired you to create Gojee?

The other two versions of Gojee were food focused too, so we did a lot of recipe sites surfing. What we found was they all left us unimpressed and more confused than inspired. So we got together at a bar and decided that we are going to make a better recipe site. Now granted, a few drinks helped inform that decision, but we think that’s part of what makes it special.

We’re curious: where did the name Gojee come from?

Barry (our Spokesberry) will tell you that it’s named after Tibetan Gojiberries… but don’t believe him.

Find Barry and you might find the true meaning of Gojee

Why did you choose to make Gojee a web app? What have you learned from the process of developing it?

We really thought that apps are where it’s at. Mobile has changed the way people interact with websites and search. So we went about designing a site that functioned more like an app.

We’ve learned a lot along the way. We’ve learned that “Minimum Viable Product” doesn’t mean “rush a product out the door.” We’ve learned that the best way to develop an intuitive experience is to try things and then validate with users.

Why did you choose to include links to recipes rather than full recipes?

We want to give the ultimate credit for each recipe to the bloggers who created them. So we didn’t think it was right to put their full content on our site. A big part of what we believe in, is that the context behind the recipe, the personal background behind the person who created it, are as important as the ingredients. We’ve tried to make sure that the original experience behind the recipe is the core experience Gojee users get.

Our experience is also about simplicity, we don’t want to overwhelm our users with more info than they need. Rarely do people need to know everything about a recipe to decide if they want to cook it.

Why do you think so few people seem to enjoy cooking?

I think it’s a combination of intimidation and convenience. I think Gojee is like a really good friend that convinces people cooking doesn’t have to be intimidating. “Look you can make something that looks this good!”, “Look you already have most of the ingredients!”, “You’re salivating already, just do it!”

Mobile and tablet apps are all the rage right now. Do you plan to make specialized apps for iOS, Android, and more, or do you plan to create a mobile web app of Gojee?

Mobile and tablet is going to be the next step in computing evolution. So yes, mobile is going to be an important part of the Gojee experience. We also want take our time and make sure we do it right.

Do you have any upcoming features you could share with us? Where do you see Gojee a year from now?

We’re working hard to personalize our recommendations even more.  Soon, vegetarians/vegans/pescetarians will easily be able to view recipes that suit their tastes.  We’re going to expand to help celiacs and others as well.

In a year, I hope we’ll have as many people salivating at their desktops, iPads, iPhones, Android, and Blackberries as possible.

Could you share a favorite recipe or two you’ve found while building Gojee?

Spicy Corn Fritters: They’re Indian spice inspired corn fritters. It takes 30 minutes to make and they were a smash hit at a party.

Magic S’mores Bars: Brian Borger, our Director of Marketing made these on a team offsite. They turned out fan-tastic, and we all agreed he shouldn’t make them more than once a month for our own sanity.

Korean Style Lettuce Cups: This was one of Gojee users’ favorite recipes, and we featured it in our first ever weekly email.

The ultimate validation tests for us is to get a dog to salivate at the screen. Here Mike, Gojee co-founder, drives one of our participants to a testing session. *No dogs were harmed in the making of Gojee

And we’ve got to know: which do you prefer, coffee or tea? That’s got to be the most important food choice in the world, right?

I’m all about the Tea, but I think almost everyone else on the team is into this Coffee thing. Starbucks, if you’re reading this, Dan Fox is looking for some espresso double shots.

Thanks, Tian!

We’d like to say a special thanks to Tian and the whole Gojee team for taking the time to let us pick their brains about Gojee. If you haven’t already given Gojee a try, be sure to check out Zach’s nice review of it that we published earlier this week. And if you come across an especially nice recipe from Gojee, feel free to share it with us in the comments below!