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Finding a sponsor for my wife’s site

post # 324 — March 6, 2007 — a General post

In yesterday’s Boston Globe, (Monday March 05, 2007, Sidekick section, page 3.) there’s a review of my wife’s videocast / blog, startcooking.com. I’ll let it speak for itself!


By Bobby Hankinson




All too often the day ends with a frozen dinner or a visit from the delivery man. It’s not that we don’t want to cook, it’s just that we’re not always sure exactly how.

Enter Startcooking.com — the best thing to happen to clueless cooks since the Hot Pocket.

Hosted by Kathy Maister, a Boston-based former home-ec teacher, the site offers up scrumptious recipes with stop-animation videos as well as tips and basic techniques in blog format. Maister is cooking in real time from her Back Bay kitchen, so viewers can see the equipment, materials and finished product. The videos are expertly edited, and at about two or three minutes each, they don’t wear out the attention span.

Maister’s easy-to-follow presentation of her tasty treats, which lean toward comfort food, is simple without being patronizing and friendly without going all Rachel Ray. There are a lot of cooking guides out there, but this is geared specifically to an audience who may have chosen to spend their time learning a second language or computer programming instead of how to crack an egg.

Since launching in December, the site has quickly become a hot destination on the eb. Startcooking.com was featured on iTunes’ “New and Notable” food podcasts, and Nokia has contacted the site to make it available on N series phones — that way the show can assist aspiring chefs right in the kitchen or grocery store. It’s also been nominated for a 2007 weblog Award.

“I’ve never had so much fulfillment in my life as I’ve had doing this,” Maister said.

After checking out the site, we may have found a way to give ourselves some fulfillment without pestering the delivery man.

Now here’s the challenge for you all: What’s the best way for her to find a sponsor for her site?


Brad Attig said:


Since I saw Kathy use a lot of name brand products, the best sponsor I could think of would be someone like Kraft. When possible she showcases Kraft Brands (and they have a lot) in her recipes. Then, send out the link to everyone possible at Kraft.

Another way, contact the Stop-n-Shop since they are locally based. Maybe pitch 2 or 3 videos a week using some of the sale products in the circular. Eggs and bacon on sale, make a Quiche Lorraine, etc.

Good luck,


posted on March 6, 2007

Nicolas Kübler said:

First I also thought about “product placement” as Brad already wrote about. I don’t know the American market, but i try to give some ideas.

Here in Europe you can see a recipe on the back of some packages for ready-to-serve meals. Maybe your wife could make such videos for those recipes. I looked for such videos at Kraft and they don’t seem to have them. A German competitor called “Maggi” has such videos!

Another idea would be to make some special recipes for food magazines, which also have a webpage. So they sponsor her to show her videos to the readers of the magazines. Maybe this is also supported by a page/column in the magazine.

Maybe there are also some books about food and her videos are released on an extra CD of such books.

So she could be sponsored by companies, which create meals, or by magazines, which write about food.

I really like her homepage, but I think you should get more publicity first. Some homepage improvement would be to display the nutritional values of each meal. Maybe I come up with another idea tomorrow, when i got some more time. I think that is a though situation for marketing.

posted on March 6, 2007

David (Maister) said:

Thanks, Brad and Nicolas. We will follow up on your ideas. Does anyone out there ghave a food client who might be interested?

(You see, I’m not strong on self-promotion, but it’s a different story when it comes to my wife. For her, I would shout from the mountaintops!)

posted on March 6, 2007

Wally Bock said:

The product-placement thing cuts both ways. Note that on the foodnetwork, for example, you never see real labels on the cans and other packaging, only labels that look real. Using real labels cuts out any chance of sponsorship.

Herewith a bit of brainstorming.

Instead of a sponsor, why not severa? Is the site ad supportable?

How about the home economics teachers association? There has to be one. Perhaps a home ec magazine that doesn’t have web or tv presence.

Why not try taking donations? You’ve seen the recipe, now why not donate.

How about doing series of shows around a them and then soliciting sponsors for the series?

Have you considered selling DVDs with sets of shows on them?

Can you seel subscriptions, say to email delivery of a week’s recipes?

Whew! Now I’m all tuckered out. Good luck.

posted on March 6, 2007

Steve Roesler said:


Having just spent a week in an editing room working on a client video, my first reaction is how well-produced Kathy’s video is.

I don’t have a food or food service client. But I began thinking, “Is that too obvious?” So I re-ran the video and realized that there may be potential with the manufacturers of cookware, utensils, appliances, kitchen fixtures, and even manufacturers of attractive aprons.

What do you think?

posted on March 6, 2007

David (Maister) said:

Yes, we are thinking broadly about equipment manufacturers, too (tho we hadn’t thought about apron manufacturers!)

Thanks for the compliment. A lot of talent – Kathy’s and others’ – has gone into the videos. Now we just need sponsors to pay for them to kep them going! I know some things about business – just not THIS business!

posted on March 6, 2007

Duncan Bucknell said:

Maybe sponsorship is the wrong model. In simplistic terms, to keep sponsorship, you need to keep fame, notoriety, etc.

Kathy and the team have done a predictably amazing job at providing excellent content and getting people using the site, so that’s great. However, I wonder whether keeping the pressure up for fame and notoriety may bring with it some pressures which might affect the true spirit of the venture and potentially the quality of the content.

I wonder whether an alternative model is the one you know most about – professional service. (But instead of B2B, it may be B2C, which you may know a little less about.)

She has proven amazingly succesful at one of the (your) cardinal rules – being (amazingly) helpful for free. In the professional service world that gives you the chance to then go on and serve people and earn revenue as a result.

I wonder whether Kathy’s business model should be similar. Why can’t she develop a professional service firm around what she does? (And it isn’t adequately captured by the word ‘cooking’). Clearly she has found a niche that works really well. Her content is clearly carrying the day as much as the technological side of things. That seems proof enough that she has plenty of ways to be helpful and valuable.

By the way, maybe there’s also a B2B niche here too, which will probably be more profitable, but maybe not what she wants to do.

Wow – what a great project – certainly lots of room for creativity and strategy.

posted on March 7, 2007

Richard Becker said:

Hey David, it seems to me that your wife has a good enough direct-to-consumer product that searching for sponsors could be secondary to creating saleable compilation products: cookbooks, DVDs, merchadise, etc. Or, she could even ask for viewer donations. As the site traffic builds for these items, it will be even more likely that a sponsor will eventually come to her… or perhaps a publisher … or perhaps a network.

Plus, as I’ve said before about these things, it won’t be long before technology makes it as easy to “tune in” to her website as it is the Food Network.

Of course, if she would really prefer a sponsor, then I might suggest thinking broader. Rather than compete with the Food Network, think of less-direct sponsors, eg. instead of food brands, think oven manufacturers or grocery markets, etc. In sum, target those who other food shows do not target and/or focus on non-related local companies hoping to reach a bigger audience.

posted on March 18, 2007

worm said:

I Like this resourse much bettre than others. Everything is easy for understanding.  Just what young wife needs!

posted on May 2, 2007

David Miles said:

My Congratulations!You are a lucky person to have such a wife. I think she’s got a talent in this sphere.I have never been good at cooking but Kathy’s recipes are easy for understanding and they helped me a lot. My girlfriend was pleased with the lunch I had cooked for her with the help of Kathy.Wish you good luck.Hope you’ll find a sponsor in the near future!

posted on May 2, 2007