Everyone likes delicious food, but not everyone can cook. Cooking can be a pretty daunting task for some people, and I know this because I usually get completely lost in the kitchen.

With a vision of making everyone a great cook, California-based serial entrepreneur Kevin Yu founded SideChef in 2014, a step-by-step cooking app. The startup team decided to take SideChef to China after receiving positive feedback from the U.S. and European users and a US$1 million seed financing from Peacock Capital and Empower Investment Group at the end of last year.


Available across iOS and Android devices, SideChef teach users how to cook in a step-by-step manner, demonstrating every move of a recipe as well as the list of ingredients with pictures and videos. The app also integrated several helpful features like automatic timers and voice controls so that cooks with dirty hands can keep an eye on both their dishes and their devices.

As a part of its global expansion, the Santa Monica-headquartered startup is entering Chinese market with the launch of a Chinese version several weeks ago.

“We have established an office in Shanghai with an excellent team consisting of both foreign expats and Chinese staff who are familiar with the local market,”said Kevin.

Current users of SideChef Chinese are mostly foreigners living in China, mainly because its recent launch and focus on western-style recipes. The startup is now experimenting with localized features and they will be added later based on feedback from local users. Recipes for Chinese cuisine is definitely one of the main directions of SideChef in a bid to fit the taste of Chinese users, explained Kevin.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Kevin has worked at the world’s leading gaming company Blizzard Entertainment for more than eight years. A deep understanding gaming industry has enabled Kevin to bring gamification mindset into his startups.


James Huang (L) from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers Interviewing Keven Yu (R) at Startup Grind Meetup

“In the video game industry, users are so passionate, and dedicate so much time to play these video games, why don’t we use the same tactic to design something for education… it’s is about how to make people feel more appreciated when they do every day simple tasks. I think it concerns game design which allows people to feel appreciated for their persistence and growth.”

“We are looking for people who want to have impacts, and very fond of our vision of making something so that every people are be able to cook”.

“In addition to team goals and company goals, we are trying to build a [company eco]system that incorporates personal goals in a bid to prompt individual growth… I know pretty much all my staff’s plans, where they want to be in two years, what they want to do, the skill-set they want to develop. We also encourage them financially to be growing and become a better person.”

As a person who once worked for big cooperate, Kevin believes that it not only relates to experimenting and promoting app and service externally, but also the possibilities to try anything internally, like how to build a better system. “Just like you listen to your service users, you can listen to your team members on how build an better company environment.”

Image credit: Startup Grind

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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