Seattle-based Meld, the brainchild of Amazon.com veterans, upgrades existing stovetops to have automatic temperature control using a Meld Knob and Clip working together with a cellphone app.
The company:Meld, started in 2014 by Amazon.com veterans Jon Jenkins and Darren Vengroff. The company upgrades existing stovetops to have automatic temperature control.
The idea: When reading a recipe that says “medium heat for 10 minutes,” what does that mean? Vengroff, an amateur chef, and Jenkins, who also loves to cook, wanted to figure out a way to automatically regulate temperature while cooking. Medium on different burners can range over a 200-degree difference, which Jenkins said can mean “the difference between completely undercooked and burnt.”
The result: The Meld Knob and Clip work together with a cellphone app. The knob is controlled by the temperature-sensing clip placed in a pot on the stove top. The user selects a recipe from the app, or manually selects a temperature, and the phone will use information from the clip to tell the knob what to do. The knob will then adjust the temperature automatically. The kit currently works only with cooking that involves liquid: poaching, frying, slowcooking and candy making.
Quote: “We are not trying to make a cooking robot,” Jenkins said. “We’re trying to bring science to the art of cooking, but not have science replace the art of cooking.”
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The struggles: The pair had to design something that could be integrated into existing stovetops of different styles and designs. The size of their knob is based on decades worth of stoves, which meant they had to fit all the circuitry, batteries and motor inside a predetermined size. It took longer than expected to develop, but the knob can be installed on any gas or electric range with knobs.
The figures: The co-founders funded Meld’s first year themselves, but are now running a Kickstarter that ends on May 8. They have raised almost $200,000; the goal was $50,000, which was exceeded on the first day. They plan to retail the knob and the sensor clip as a kit for $149.
Employees: Five, who work out of an office on the ship canal at Nickerson Marina
Looking forward: Jenkins and Vengroff plan to expand their idea to cooking in every form — grilling, sauteing, microwaving, baking. They also hope to eventually have their technology incorporated into electronic ranges that have no knobs.
— Coral Garnick