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Last updated: 30 Dec, 2015  

cherian-thomas-cucumbertownTHMB.jpg Food blogging increasingly getting popular in India: Cherian Thomas

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SME Times News Bureau | 30 Dec, 2015
The trend of food bloggers is rising in India. India is a culture known for its diversity in food. We use food for almost all occasions, so it's safe to say that we love our food. As people are also becoming increasingly tech savvy, the interest in sharing thoughts with our peers has also increased, said Cherian Thomas, Co-founder & CEO of Cucumbertown, in an interview to SME Times.
Excerpts of the interview...

Tell us something about your company?

Cherian Thomas: Cucumbertown is a food blogging platform providing an outlet to the passion of food bloggers since 2012. We provide food bloggers with an easy to use digital platform to share & monetize their content. With a reach to over 160 countries with millions of users, we aim to build the world's largest food blogging platform.

'Cucumbertown', directly translated from the Malayalam phrase vellarikka pattanam, signifies a mythical town where anything is possible.

An interesting fact: Cherian, Arun Prabhakar, Dan Hauk, and Chris Luescher are based out of India, Switzerland and the United States respectively and did not meet until Cucumbertown was launched! We recently were acquired by a Tokyo based recipe network, Cookpad.

The concept behind Cucumbertown is quite unique. How did the concept strike?
Cherian Thomas: I was very passionate about coding and cooking. I always was an enthusiastic cook. Even as a child, living with my parents, me and my brother would constantly try to improvise on instant noodles to create new and exciting recipes. It was while working at Zynga, when I started to get deeply into the world of blogging. What I discovered was that I did not really like any of the conventional platforms out there. I wanted to create a blogging space with no hassles; which would also increase the enthusiasm amongst amateur cooks for the sheer joy of cooking.

How do you help food bloggers to share and monetize their content?
Cherian Thomas: By using our large network and integrating advertising on our site, we streamline the whole process. We also have tied-up with Amazon, having launched our new affiliate feature, which allows users to choose which product they would like to feature on their page, thereby allowing e-commerce companies to sell products through these recommendations, thus monetizing our bloggers content. With our huge network, we enable our bloggers to do what they love best and share their recipes with a huge online community of foodies using features like the RecipeCam and the RecipeWriter. This makes the entire process of blogging hassle-free for our bloggers.

You started the company in 2012, how you see its success and growth till date?
Cherian Thomas: The growth of the company till date has been amazing. With a large variety of tools available, food bloggers can use data analytics to produce the right content at the right time, decorate their blogs from a set of customized photos and organize their recipes using various differentiators. The new, integrated site propelled Cucumbertown into the spotlight and convinced a series of successful independent bloggers to move on to the platform. This includes Nandita Iyer, the face behind famous food blog Saffron Trail. Some of our readers have up to 500,000 page views, since the start, we've gone from pitching to people to having a 3 month long waitlist!

What kind of response you are getting in India?

Cherian Thomas: The response in India has been overwhelming! We've had home cooks with a bit of time on their hands to notable food bloggers in India use our platform. The additional feature of Cucumbertown is that the posts a blogger uploads are not entwined with the site. This allows the user to leave easily; they have the option to download their entire blogging history in order to upload it elsewhere.

Is food blogging getting increasingly popular in India?
Cherian Thomas: Yes, we've been seeing a rising trend of food bloggers in India. India is a culture known for its diversity in food. We use food for almost all occasions, so it's safe to say that we love our food. As people are also becoming increasingly tech savvy, the interest in sharing thoughts with our peers has also increased.

India is geographically and culturally very diversified. Different regions and peoples have different food habits? Do you see it as a big opportunity?
Cherian Thomas: India, having such a huge variety of different food habits, different people and different cultures, is a very interesting place for any food lover. Not only is it a place where everybody cooks almost every single day, but it's an untapped market for cooking related content that needs to be available online for people to consume. We've seen the interest that there is in the market for Indian food, so in a nutshell, yes we do see India as a huge opportunity for us.

What are your future plans?
Cherian Thomas: We are in the process of creating an analytics system that tracks all the information required by a user, from views to the monetization & number of views per recipe of their page in the blink of an eye.
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