Since Airbnb’s launch in 2008, the number of companies allowing users to quickly and easily exchange niche goods and services for cash has skyrocketed. Companies have replicated the business model across the globe, bringing it to industries as diverse as bike gear rentals and dog sitting.
One of the more recent adopters of the model is The Kitchen Network, a startup in Charlottesville, Virginia that’s looking to help food entrepreneurs gain access to kitchen space. Helmed by Allie Hill, Susan Weiner and Ian Pasquarelli, the fledgling company was recently profiled in Forbes.
Writer Scott Beyer was introduced to The Kitchen Network earlier this month at the Tom Tom Founders Festival, an innovation summit that takes place annually in Charlottesville. The company gave a three-minute pitch as part of the event’s Crowdfunded Pitch Night competition.
As the team explained at the summit, there’s a real need for kitchen space among food entrepreneurs — think food cart owners, farmers market merchants and restaurateurs just starting out in the business — and little to go around. The Food Network plans to solve that problem by connecting people with unused restaurant space to those who need it.
“Maybe you’ll be a restaurant that doesn’t open until 5pm,” Pasquarelli explained to Forbes. “You could have a baker in there from 3am to 8am baking their goods for that day before you even touch that kitchen for the day.”
The finer points still need to be sorted out. For instance, Airbnb users have a good idea of how much people are willing to pay for accommodations. But what’s a reasonable price to pay to rent out a restaurant kitchen? And what rules and regulations might renters have to follow?
For now, The Kitchen Network’s plan is to raise $50,000 to $75,000 from angel investors over the next two years, and get started on buying advertising and building an advanced web interface. The company will initially launch its service in Charlottesville, and then expand from there.