Babson College Olin Graduate School of Business
One of Ben Saur's best ideas came to him on an empty stomach in front of his near-empty refrigerator. Saur was hungry and clueless about what meals he could make, using the few odd ingredients at hand.
Saur began experimenting with a prototype for the website that would become RecipeKey.com. He combined his ideas with inspiration from the '90s Food Network TV show Door Knock Dinners
to hone the core concept behind the site. On the TV show, host Gordon Elliot, and sometimes a guest chef, would surprise families at their homes and cook up gourmet meals with the groceries they could find in the pantry. Saur took a variation of that idea online by making the guest chef a digital tool.
The first step on RecipeKey.com involves filling a digital pantry with whatever the user's actual pantry contains. Users customize their profiles by noting food allergies and dietary restrictions and then selecting settings for a preferred level of recipe difficulty, type of cuisine, and most-favored ingredient. The website then generates a list of potential meals, noting what percentage of ingredients users have to make the dish.
In the fall of 2009, Saur enrolled at Babson College's Olin Graduate School of Business. He had mentioned the RecipeKey project when he interviewed, recognizing that Babson's reputation as a top school for entrepreneurial studies could be helpful in case he wanted to continue working on the website. But Saur mainly wanted to bolster his business skills with an MBA.
By his second year at Babson, Saur had committed to making RecipeKey a success. He enrolled in a business-opportunity exploration class and followed that up with a business-plan implementation class.
Currently, Saur is working to improve RecipeKey.com by integrating the issuance of coupons to local grocers, as well as selling advertising on the site to highlight specials in geographic regions.--Sommer Saadi, posted May 13, 2011