The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: London Local Nick Holzherr — August 24, 2012

Interview: London Local Nick Holzherr

This week, Community Ambassador Keith McGuinness was thrilled to interview Apprentice 2012 finalist Nick Holzherr about the upcoming launch of Whisk and how his appearance on the show has impacted the business.

Name: Nick Holzherr
Website: Whisk
Twitter: @whiskteam

How did you get started as a digital entrepreneur?

I have had an interest in technology since my dad bought me a computer when I was 15 and I started to build websites for local companies – even the odd bit of non-malicious hacking at the time. Getting into tech for business was however all by accident. I was interested in running my own business at university where I did a degree in business – and started a coffee business. We started putting advertising on the side of coffee cups, added QR codes onto the adverts and suddenly got lots of demand for our tech solution. From that, I did what any business person does – follow demand, hired a few developers and grew the tech side of the business.

And how did you come up with the idea for Whisk?

It goes without saying that starting a company involves long hours. Although I love cooking, I just wasn’t finding the time to buy the right ingredients for the recipes I wanted to cook. It frustrated me as it meant I ended up cooking the same dishes most nights, or eating out, which gets pretty costly. Many people I knew felt the same.  Craig, my co-founder, felt the frustration too, and had the ‘eureka’ moment when Tesco released their public API in 2009. We both found that buying the right ingredients was the part of home cooking that involved the most faff. It was then that he realised that technology could solve all this hassle by linking recipes directly with online shopping.

Can you tell us a bit about how the site works?

Whisk enables people to purchase the ingredients for any recipe they find on the internet via online supermarkets. People can add recipes they find to a virtual basket within Whisk and then check out the ingredients for those recipes at their supermarket of choice.

Whisk will be launched as a browser plugin, an iPhone app and a button on recipes sites. There are so many amazing recipes online, many which don’t take much time to cook. We want to open out the wealth of food ideas the internet has to offer and make them really, really convenient for people.

On top of that, Whisk does lots of other interesting things that people discover as they use the system – like recommend recipes to cook with what you’ll have leftover (which is worked out by looking at the difference between what you need to cook recipes and store item pack sizes).

Have you had much interest in the site since the Apprentice ended?

The interest has been phenomenal. We were the most read story on the page for more than a day, have had thousands of users sign-up for our system and we’re talking to the biggest recipe brands, FMCG brands and supermarkets. We also attracted the attention of a great set of people who have joined the team – making it a pleasure to come into work every day.

Did your appearance on the show help you raise finance for the business?

Absolutely. The idea is ambitious – linking together the world’s recipes with the world’s brands and the world’s supermarkets isn’t a small challenge. The exposure from The Apprentice helps with that. Having a good team behind the business also helps quite a bit. However, important to note is that while The Apprentice gives us a “leg up” – everyone believes in the vision we’re working to turn into reality – no-one would invest in a bad idea that had a lot of exposure.

Despite not choosing to invest, did Lord Sugar have any advice for you?

I have a lot of respect for Lord Sugar despite not being chosen for investment. Lord Sugar recognised the size of the challenge and recommended I may have luck in the US finding appropriate investors. We were lucky to find these in the UK and have a set of knowledgeable investors on board who can help us. We didn’t need to go to the US, but Lord Sugar was right that it is certainly a big challenge!

Are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?

I’ve been told time and time again that working on a single project and doing it well is the most important thing. I’m dedicating all my time to Whisk – so nothing else is in the pipeline – no. Or maybe, a L’Oreal hair campaign?! Just joking. Or am I?

Finally, what advice would you have for any aspiring entrepreneurs reading this?

I’d say test your idea as soon as you can. Don’t sit on it and wait for someone else to do it. Find someone experienced in running a company and ask them for advice if you don’t know what to do next. The best thing anyone can do if they have ideas and aspire to get them off the ground is start. Start designing your product, start contacting people who may like to buy it, start talking to investors. You’ll soon find out whether it’s a good idea or not – without spending any money or too much time.

About our Ambassador: Keith McGuinness is a freelance copywriter based in South West London. Connect with him on Twitter @mcginty312

Event Review: How to Land a Job at a Startup — August 5, 2012

Event Review: How to Land a Job at a Startup

This event review of “How to land a job at a startup” is brought to you by Solange Francois, from our Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Sydney.

On Thursday, 26th July I attended General Assembly’s ‘How to Land a Job at a Startup’. It was an hour of ideas led by Riley Batchelor, who has been involved with startups for many years before deciding to use his skills and contacts for educating and mentoring.

What types of startup jobs are out there?

The majority of tech startup roles are, unsurprisingly, developer roles, but there are also requirements for sales, business development, marketing, commercial management, operations, admin and more.

What are the benefits of working at a startup?

Startups don’t operate like large, established companies. Startups generally offer flexibility in attire and work hours and autonomy that comes from a smaller, flatter management structure. Startups often work in co-working spaces so staff interact with a wide range of enthusiastic, ambitious entrepreneurs.

How can I make it happen?

  • Get your story straight – work out what you want to do and focus on a core skill
  • Make connections rather than rely on job boards – network and ask for introductions
  • Demonstrate your passion – know the company and become familiar with the product and space
  • Differentiate yourself – stand out, be creative and get noticed
  • Know your place – envision the role you’d play in the business and deliver that value before being asked
  • At interviews, share fresh ideas and demo your work
  • Consider up-skilling in areas you’re not familiar with so you’re able to offer a broader skill set
  • Investigate various sources, for example, connections, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook pages, The Fetch, Silicon Beach Australia board

The opportunities for people driven to become involved in this space continue to grow, but it’s not a conventional recruitment path so it’s up to the individual to take the lead, up-skill and get connected.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Solange Francois. She is a marketer and lover of travel with a passion for psychology and lifelong learning. You can connect with Solange through her blog or on Twitter @solangefrancois

Hello Justin – our Perth fetcher — April 22, 2012

Hello Justin – our Perth fetcher

Go West, this is what we’re gonna do, Go West!

Perth! Booming Perth. We’re heading there too and I’m pleased to welcome Justin Strharsky as our city curator. Justin is active within the WA startup space and is the managing director at Synaptor – a platform where you can manage health, safety, and environmental risk in real time. You can follow him on Twitter here or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Justin will be sharing the best events, meetups, community news, jobs and more in each fortnight’s fetch. You can submit items to him via email here, via @thefetchperFB and don’t forget to subscribe on so we’ll arrive straight to your box. Our first navy/purple-themed fetch (cough West Coast Eagles FC) will be sent shortly. As part of Justin’s welcome, we put a few questions to him:

Justin Strharsky

How did you end up where you are today?

I flew South from Russia. I spent three and a half years on Sakhalin island working with an Australian consultancy. We helped to manage health, safety, and environmental risks on what was at the time the world’s largest integrated oil and gas development project. When that project transitioned from construction to operations, and the GFC hit, I closed our Russian office and relocated to Perth.

In 2011 a client asked us to build yet another mind-numbingly boring and inadequate paper-based safety tool. We decided that we had had enough and could do better. We launched Synaptor in order to free workers from the tedium of safety paperwork and to enable companies to manage risk in real time.

Before moving to Russia, I had a few other ‘character-building’ experiences. I helped manage a family medicine clinic in Alaska, owned a cafe-bar in Prague, and worked for several years in Silicon Valley, primarily for Sun Microsystems.

What makes you tick? What makes you ick?

Most days it seems that coffee makes me tick. One cup too many and it also makes me ick. I get excited by big ideas, big plans. I dislike talking to people when they’re not really present. Hello, are you in there?

Why do you love ‘fetchin?

I’m convinced that culture – the ideas, attitudes, and habits of those around you – affects what you believe is possible. I want to contribute to a local culture that encourages people to believe that they can make good things happen.

What things excite you about our community right now?

I think it’s a fantastic time to be an entrepreneur in Australia. There are so many big, exciting problems to get after, and so many resources at our disposal. The community is relatively small and approachable, and while we are learning from the way things are done elsewhere, there is an invigorating freedom to make our our own way.

What’s your favourite thing about your city?

I think Perth is wonderful – don’t tell anyone, okay? I’ve found Goldilocks’ bowl of porridge here – it’s just right.

Today my favorite thing is the first rain of the season.

Where can we find you in Perth?

Hopefully I’m in King’s Park, enjoying a famous sunset. If I’m not there, check my desk.

How can we connect with you?



Come out to one of the entrepreneur meetups.

Some kind words — August 27, 2011
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