“Wrong”, “different” or “correctable” are all concepts that up until a few generations back were often associated with being left-handed and fuelled its inherent prejudices. Yet such prejudices are the inspiration behind Cucina Mancina (Left-handed Cuisine). The Puglia-based platform is dedicated to "left-handed eating”, serving all those who, by choice or necessity, have to eliminate certain ingredients from their diet (gluten, meat and fish, milk, eggs, fat, salt, sugar, etc.), and who often find themselves living a state of "exclusion ". It brings together a very particular set of consumers, of course, but it adds up to almost 50% of Italians. It is therefore a fascinating group for a start-up, as Flavia GIordano and Lorenza Dadduzio realized when they created the community www.cucinamancina.it.
Since April 2013 when it was launched, the platform has been able to aggregate 26,000 unique users per month and 6,500 followers on Facebook, with a market share of 30 percent loyal readers. What does Cucina Mancina offer? First, a series of recipes validated by the nutritionist Elvira Greco and that can be filtered according to your needs; and second, a store locator to find stores that suit individual dietary needs.
"To get started, we were able to rely on a grant of €70,000 from the Chamber of Commerce in Bari - says Flavia D'Amico, co-founder of Cucina Mancina -. With this investment, we were able to build the platform, creating all its services and strengthen our corporate identity. Today we have a very strong brand, which has garnered understanding and recognition among our readers." So much so that the community has expanded considerably and now has 250 authors or food bloggers, with registered profiles who share their recipes on the site.
A roll of honor
The credibility achieved in a few years by this microenterprise is evidenced by numerous awards: indeed, Cucina Mancina was ranked third in the Global Social Venture Competiton established by ALTIS (Alta Scuola Impresa e Società) at the Università Cattolica di Milano together with Intesa Sanpaolo Bank in recognition of the most innovative social enterprises.
"The GSCV Award accredited us as a company with a social impact – said Lorenza Dadduzio, co-founder of Cucina Mancina – and it's a definition that does us credit, as with our idea we wanted to bring to light the problem of food inclusion. "Cucina Mancina was then rewarded by the patron of fresh pasta Giovanni Rana as the best start-up in Italy and the best food start-up by "la Repubblica delle idee" (the Republic of ideas), while "Vanity Fair" has crowned it the best cooking site.
"Last month, the Mind the Bridge association - concludes Dadduzio - funded us for a month's training in San Francisco to learn how to do business along the lines of Silicon Valley: it was both memorable and invaluable for the development of our idea."
The next step now is the actual market launch, namely the proposal of company brands and products aimed at different categories of 'left-handed' people. "Our community will be involved to test and validate these foods, and we want to tell the story - ensures Giordano - The priority is to offer quality content and services, we are not just an e-commerce site with a blog. For this reason we have not until now wanted to give space to sponsorships: we still had to strengthen our proposal."
That the contents are truly the strongest point of this start-up is evidenced by the fact that, in just a few months, two books have been penned by Cucina Mancina: "Eat Different", published by Gribaudo, which has sold 2,500 copies in three months and "La Puglia che mangia differente” (Eating Different in Puglia), published by Unioncamere Puglia, offering a 'left-handed' version of many traditional recipes of Puglia.