Strapped for time to cook? Want dinner ready exactly when you get home? The startup consumer electronic device Celcy hopes to help with a countertop device that stores and cooks food automatically—and it’s a lot more than another microwave.
The device, designed by working NASA engineer Maxwell Wieder, started as a joke among engineers.
“Our friend’s oven died and he was just doing due diligence and we started razzing him to get an oven with temperature probes and sensors,” said Wieder. “We all paused and said, ‘Hey this would be amazing.’ We got together that weekend and designed it on a whiteboard.”
That was back in 2017 and today, between planning a space mission to Jupiter, Wieder and his cofounders have built a beta device, and it’s no joke.
“The left side is our freezer that loads five meals. It scans the meals so they instantly appear on your phone. You have all the macronutrients, cook time, style of cooking. The right side is an elevator with a miniature oven that can do multiple styles of cooking: air frying, convection and broiling. How that oven is used is preprogrammed into the meals,” said Wieder. “It’s like a chef is there cooking for you.”
He said it’s the first truly Internet of things (IOT) oven. It’s far beyond a sensor in a refrigerator that connects to wi-fi. The team is working to connect with Alexa and already has an app that monitors a user’s location, matches it with cook times and has meals ready when they arrive home. He said it’s easy to schedule meals, too. Having breakfast ready at 7:15 a.m. on the dot every morning is a matter of a few buttons.
The meals all arrive by mail frozen in packs of 15. Wieder said the company is working with the company Personal Chefs to Go to create the meals for the device. He has big plans to work with other partners, as well, like celebrity brands and diet programs like Weight Watchers. He plans to launch in 2023 with four of five launch partners providing meals and add more from there.
The company just started a beta program that looks a lot like Tesla’s program. Potential users can put down $150 to lock in their device for the 2023 launch. Wieder said the company is about halfway through that initial beta launch.
Wieder said the company is aiming for a $550 price point or a lower price with a six-month meal subscription. That matches his ideal user. He envisions the time-strapped millennial who commutes home and has no energy to cook. In his research, 70 percent of that group is already using frozen food from the microwave.
For a little more dough—he’s aiming for an average of $12 per meal—they can get properly cooked food with multiple styles of cooking and their exact preferences.
He has goals to reach the 100,000 units out in the wild in three years but admits that “might be ambitious” and already has goals for vending in offices and other foodservice outlets.
Wherever it goes, it’s yet another enticing method of getting food to customers. If Maria Carey fans are buying cookies with her name on them and people are getting frozen mail-order bagels by the dozen, Celcy may one day be another channel for traditional or virtual brands to reach their hungry consumers.