For the average adult, it can be difficult to find the time to prepare a proper, healthy meal (let alone three meals a day). Kayley and Abdul Miah, co-founders of Cookd Detroit, knew that struggle all too well. Both were working full-time jobs of their own and found it hard to create a healthy meal every evening, usually opting for takeout or something similarly simple.
While they could have opted to use of one of the many, already-established meal delivery services, the Miahs took it upon themselves to create their own. It would be framed around healthy meals made by local chefs using locally-sourced ingredients from Michigan farms and gardens. Customers would be able to order as many or as few meals as they would like on a weekly basis. And it would be competitively priced.
All of these ideas began flowing earlier this year in January and by mid-February, the Miahs were tasting the food that would ultimately end up on Cookd’s menu.
“We literally had [the tasting] on Valentine’s Day, so our kitchen table was just covered in all these different foods,” Kayley said. “It was really fun.”
Working with Chef Reva Constantine at the Great Lakes Culinary Center, the Miahs were able to craft a menu that included options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“[Chef Constantine] sent me a butternut squash soup and I took a bite of that thing and it was amazing,” Abdul said. “After that, I was like, ‘Whatever you make, I’m not even going to try it because I know it’s going to be spectacular if it’s like this butternut squash soup.’
“She does a great job of making sure that the food is quality. Like, she won’t put anything out there that’s not up to her standards and she has very high standards,” he said.
From there, the duo decided to work with local restaurant supply store Green Safe Products to provide eco-friendly packaging for their meals. They hired someone to handle the product photography and social media end of the business. And they took on the rest of the business responsibilities themselves. Abdul, who has an engineering background, quit his day job to invest himself completely in Cookd.
The way Cookd works is that customers place their weekly orders through Cookd’s website by Wednesday at 3 p.m. The meals are picked up at the Great Lakes Culinary Center on Sunday and delivered within a couple of hours.
While the idea of seeking capital investors was considered early on, Kayley and Abdul ultimately opted to scale the business organically as it grew with its customer base. For example, the Miahs currently make all the deliveries themselves, but they are working on an automated delivery process and method by which to train new delivery drivers. Hired drivers will be able to pick up a set of orders that have a similar destination, making a few deliveries every Sunday.
In the four weeks that the business has been up and running, Cookd has received and filled about 50 orders, many of which have come from repeat customers. Their most popular items seem to be ones that can be enjoyed on-the-go, such as the peanut butter & chocolate protein bites and the turkey sausage & egg bites. They also just added a keto-friendly, sesame-seared salmon dish, a keto/vegan-friendly maple cinnamon “Noatmeal” and veggies with hemp seed hummus.
“The biggest thing now is for us to continue adding more meal options.” Abdul said. “For example, we found that there’s a ton of people who are very interested in our vegan options, but because we only have seven [vegan] options right now, they’re not committing to buying a week’s worth of food…so, let’s see if we can bump that up.”