During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, former U of T student Anush Mahindhan witnessed the rise in popularity of both culinary media and podcast consumption — and consequently tried to synthesize the two. Now, as a founder and chief executive officer of Dryzzle Media, Mahindhan collates original recipes from diverse culinary talents to deliver through audio on a new app.
A chef in your ear
Founded in April, Dryzzle markets itself to its target Gen Z and millennial demographic as a “mobile-first” app that’s a cross between the Food Network and Spotify. It aims to provide an array of original recipes in podcast format to audiences while providing its cast of culinary hosts compensation based on their number of free, advertisement-funded listeners and paid subscribers.
Mahindhan seeks to avoid what he thinks are the drawbacks of traditional food media, writing that words and pictures can be inconvenient and boring to audiences in kitchens. “You don’t always need a continuous visual of something to learn that thing,” wrote Mahindhan in an email to The Varsity. “With traditional food media, it feels like you are learning from an instructor rather than learning from a friend, so it lacked that intimacy and engagement.”
In an effort to improve on this, Mahindhan wants Dryzzle “to build a brand that [is] centered around our hosts, their voices, and their stories.” In a later interview with The Varsity, Mahindhan described using Dryzzle as a “chef-in-your-ear experience.”
Better representation in food
Beyond the novelty of the medium, the Dryzzle team also seeks to evolve culinary media in a more progressive direction. “Highlighting food media, and the lack of diversity in food media, is definitely something that we want to disrupt,” Mahindhan said. “Food media right now is very Western-centric and does not showcase… the current demographic. It does not [bring] to light [Black, Indigenous, and people of colour] members. So, in a sense, Dryzzle is also aimed at solving that issue as well.”
Kenzie Osborne, Dryzzle’s chief culinary officer, grew up with anorexia and uses Take the F Out of Fast Food, her series on the platform, to tackle her “biggest food fears.”
“Prior to finding Dryzzle, I was reaching out to… some pretty big food writers in the industry, and I was actually being told to not talk about my mental illness in the fear that it would turn people away,” she said in an interview with The Varsity. “When I revealed to the other co-founders of Dryzzle that I had a mental illness and that I was sharing it on my blog, they were immediately ready to start this series with me.”
Mahindhan began his entrepreneurial journey as a student in the co-op Bachelor of Business Administration program at UTSC. He left the program in his third year to pursue an offer of full-time employment at Honda Canada following his third co-op term. He credits his educational background at U of T and the extensive work experience it led to since these factors gave him the skills to co-found a company during a pandemic.
“I can surely say that U of T faculty, resources, and the programs provided at the university significantly helped me start my career as an entrepreneur,” Mahindhan wrote. “The Co-op program which I was part of significantly contributed to my spark in being an entrepreneur.”
Drawing on his career experience, Mahindhan had some advice for current business students. “I think a lot of business graduates, they’re taught a very singular path… ‘Once I graduate, I will work for a big firm,’ ” he said. “I would always say to the aspiring students who are coming into U of T… please take advantage of all the resources you have. Experience anything you can; don’t settle on something right away just yet because there may be something that you enjoy, possibly later on.”
So what does the future hold for Dryzzle Media? Going into 2021, Mahindhan wrote that the startup will be pursuing investment opportunities in the spring, having already secured partnerships and sponsorships with local food companies Udderly Ridiculous, RT Brewing, and Firecracker Pepper Company.
Internally, the company is also augmenting its executive team and working to update its app with licensed third-party content by the spring. Mahindhan hopes that these changes will help attract advertisers and investors.
Dryzzle is available on the App Store and Google Play.