cooking up growth
Unique Nigerian cuisine startup propelled by Houston accelerator heads into its next phase
After completing the gBETA accelerator program and winning the grand prize in the ClearCo ClearPitch competition, Tobi Smith and Bethany Oyefeso are transitioning their small business, All I Do Is Cook, into a startup with the ultimate goal of making Nigerian food accessible to everybody.
Smith and Oyefeso came one step closer to that goal when Phoencia, a Houston grocery story, started stocking the startup's condiments in 2021. In that same year, Smith and Oyefesso joined the gBETA accelerator program. Smith described this program as being instrumental in the advancement of their company from a small business to a start up, now at the beginning of their pre-seed funding phase.
“They taught us everything about what it meant to be a start up and connected us with mentors and other individuals working in the food and beverage space,” says Smith.
It was during their time in the gBETA program that they learned about the ClearCo ClearPitch competition and would ultimately win the $20,000 grand prize.
“The last two years have been bonkers,” exclaims Smith, who started All I Do Is Cook as a blog in 2016, and grew it into a cooking business.
"When I arrived in Denton from Nigeria, I walked into Walmart expecting to find common Nigerian snacks but was surprised when I couldn’t find any so I started cooking my own food and sharing the recipes,” he says.
The pandemic and subsequent closing of restaurants sling-shotted them into overdrive where in just one year their number of total orders increased from 350 to over 2,000 which they then doubled in 2021 to over 4,000.
And if a focus on Nigerian food doesn’t already set them apart, their approach to production does. Smith shared that he and Oyefeso have focused heavily on the operations side of their business.
“We want everything to run as efficiently as possible with as little waste as possible,” says Smith. “We don’t carry an inventory. We only order as much produce as we need, and we only print as much packaging as we need. We know how much food we can produce in a week, and we use the timing and amount of orders as our indicator of when we might need to increase production.”
This focus on efficiency and mindfulness of the environment should keep them attractive to both investors and consumers alike.
“We are getting ready to kick off our pre-seed funding phase,” shares Smith, “and our goal is to get into the big supermarkets like Walmart, HEB, and Kroger.”
Tobi Smith and Bethany Oyefeso are taking their startup to the next level. Photos via allidoiscook.com