Esteban Contreras: On Feast - Why are you passionate about Feast and the problem it seeks to solve?
David Spinks: I'm fascinated by habit change and how to build personal routines that makes your quality of life better. That's why we started Feast: To help people build one of the most important habits for human beings, cooking.
Cooking is so core to humanity. There are theories that it is literally what made us human. Yet less and less people are cooking because it's become easy to eat out, order in or just grab a TV dinner. And cooking shows are becoming less about cooking and more about entertaining.
That needs to change. When you can cook, you can live healthier, explore your creativity, you develop a stronger connection to the world around you, and you'll just understand food on a deeper level.
You'll also just feel like a badass because you can actually take care of yourself. The independence is a huge confidence booster.
So we're building Feast to help people build a habit of cooking regularly, with confidence.
EC: On Being a Founder -What has the past year been for you and what have you learned about the process of becoming a CEO?
DS: So much. Hard to be brief. The past year has been a roller coaster. We built Feast from the ground up and then had the honor of participating in the 500 Startups accelerator.
Throughout the experience I learned a lot about myself, about building a company and I made a whole lot of mistakes.
The wording of the question is exactly right; becoming a CEO is a process. It's something I will strive to be better at for a long time. And the role changes constantly as your company changes. So I still have a long road ahead.
I think the most important thing is to keep a level head. Through the best times and the worst times, it's important to remember that it's all just a small step in a long journey. So don't let either one affect you too much. Harder said than done, it turns out.
EC: On Product Development -People behind concepts like "lean" advocate having a Minimum Viable Product. What are your thoughts on MVPs, and did Feast have one?
DS: Yeah, we've been incredibly lean.
Our first product was an ingredient delivery service where we'd send ingredients for a full meal to your home. To test it first, we developed really simple online classes (I tried my hand at videography) and we would just buy the ingredients at the grocery store and bring it by hand to people's homes. We'd watch them cook it, learn from their experience, adapt and try again.
We didn't even build a back-end to our website for the first 8 months. We hacked a site together using all front-end and some out of the box tools for things like email, payments and CRM.
It's always a tough balance for us. Developing video content is a resource intensive process so when we commit to it, we try to learn as much before hand as possible. Sometimes, you gotta just put something out there to see if it clicks.
EC: On 500 Startups - Accelerators have clear benefits for early stage startups. With other options like Y Combinator and TechStars, why did you choose 500 Startups?
DS: I wrote a long post about our experience applying with both 500 and Techstars. We considered Boulder and Chicago with Techstars. We made it to the final interview with Chicago and got an offer to join 500 at the same time. The decision in the end came down to the program that we thought was the best cultural fit and that would help us get the biggest reach.
We didn't apply for Y-Combinator because we're not technical which they tend to look for and because we wanted the experience of working in a shared workspace.
EC: On Startup Life - You worked with Zaarly and LeWeb before starting Feast. How did these experiences make you a better person and entrepreneur?
DS: Both of them were just crazy learning experiences.
Zaarly especially was a roller coaster to say the least. We developed a fast growing team and product in a very short amount of time. I was thrown into new situations that I wasn't comfortable with and had to just figure it out. I found myself excited and overwhelmed almost all the time. I had the chance to work with the most talented people I have ever met. It's an experience that had it's fair share of serious ups and downs, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I felt like I came out of that adventure much more realistic and mature about the startup world.
At LeWeb a large part of my job was to interview the world's top entrepreneurs and speakers. I learned a lot there. I also had the chance to work directly with Loic (Le Meur), Geraldine, Bastian and the rest of the LeWeb team from whom I learned a great deal. It was a drastically different company from Zaarly in terms of communication styles, team size and personalities. So I gained a lot of perspective and had a great time.
EC: On Writing - You recently decided to write for 100 days in a row. What motivated you to do this?
DS: It really wasn't thought out that much. I just wanted to start writing more often and needed to build the habit. I read a post from Fred Wilson mentioning that he blogs every day and it just inspired me to try it too. I started writing, then made it into a personal challenge. Now there's a group (10 and counting) who decided to join me, so it's pretty cool to see it grow.