The Social Media Platform Foodies Have Been Waiting For

The Origin Story of Pepper the App

Hand holding phone with Pepper app on screen.

While sheltering in place, many people took to social media to share the activities that were keeping them busy. One of those activities, and possibly the most popular one, was cooking at home. Many people chose to share their cooking ventures on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook; however, Jake Aronskind and Matthew Schkolnick recognized the potential for a virtual space that served as a platform for sharing this type of content alone. Their solution was Pepper, the food sharing app that was an instant success.

‘Your Digital Cookbook’

“We picked this idea because we wanted to use a social cooking platform, but it didn't exist.” Jake Aronskind, co-founder of Pepper the App, explains, “We loved sharing meals with each other, but we had no place to efficiently do it outside of texting each other and posting on our socials. We loved similar vertical platforms for other niche activities in our lives (ex: Strava, Goodreads), so we created one for cooking.”

“Pepper is the social cooking app to create, share, and discover food with family and friends around the world,” he says. Through the Pepper app, users are able to enhance their cooking experience through the myriad of features included in the app. From recipe upload to advanced search encompassing ingredients, dietary preferences, recipe difficulty, and more. Users are then able to customize their profile to serve as what Aronskind calls “your digital cookbook.”

The co-founders have a history dating back long before their entrepreneurial ventures, however. The pair grew up together, even going to sleepaway camps together as kids. When Aronskind came up with the idea for Pepper, he knew who to call, “I called up Matt, and I said, "Listen, I'm going to move forward with this, and I'd love to have you be there by my side." A day later, he came back, and he said, "Jake, let's do this." We tapped into the unbelievable resources that we have and connections that we've made.”

The connections and undeniable hard work of the founders and their team paid off swiftly. “We have over 250 reviews to date ... Currently, we rank number one in the iOS App Store for Pepper, which is something we're extremely proud of because it's a very common word, and many people did not believe that we'd be able to own it.” 

The founders, however, identified the demand for a singular platform for food sharing and persisted, “We knew people needed a social cooking platform because millions of people post pictures of their food across many different platforms.” Aronskind explains, “We realized people loved sharing their food, but the disaggregated nature of the community told us that they didn't know where to do it.”

Building an App as a Non-Technical Founder

A great idea for an app is a good place to start; however, the real trials come from building the prototype. Originally launched May 26, 2021, on TestFlight, a beta application platform, the founders and their team worked to finetune their app over the course of three months before launching in September of that same year. 

When it came to actually creating the app, Aronskind, being a non-technical founder, was at a slight disadvantage. However, he didn’t let that hinder the success of the startup; instead, Aronskind leveraged his resources. “I will say that I'm extremely proud that sitting here today, as a no-code founder, which means I was not the person to code the app myself, I can proudly say that we have an iOS app in the app store,” he says. “Sometimes I don't always let that sink in enough, but there are nights where I sit back and say, ‘wow, that is an accomplishment that I will take with me my entire life.’ And I am extremely, extremely proud of it.”

Going forward, Aronskind sees the greatest challenge as the initial time spent launching the app, “The greatest challenge was getting started. We put off the idea for nearly a year because we had no idea how to take the first step.” He explains, “But when the pandemic started, we realized the world needed a place to share food even more, and every day we waited to build it was another day someone else got closer to achieving our vision. 1+ year later, we are at the forefront of the social food movement because we took that first step!

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