WEEK 4: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Babette Pepaj by Carlos Layus

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By UCLA X469.21 Student Carlos Layus

Carlos Layus

Carlos Layus

It’s all about passion.

It wasn’t until a few hours before we met our speaker, Babette Pepaj, that I had a chance to research her. Much to my delight it turned out her businesses are focused on two of my greatest passions — food and recipes.

Babette has developed several platforms for consumers to interact, share and consume content, and as icing on the cake, she created a conference.

  • BakeSpace.com – An online platform that enables home chefs to exchange recipes and share their passion for food.
  • BakeSpace TV – Live online chats with chefs and influencers from the culinary world.
  • Cookbook Cafe – An app and web-based cookbook publishing platform, reader and marketplace
  • TECHmunch – A traveling food blogger conference.
Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

All of these initiatives started from the idea of creating a social network for foodies. Babette’s passion for this industry is demonstrated by the way she speaks and how she has been able to grow her company.

By using these tools, users can share and even monetize their recipes, if they choose to publish and sell their cookbooks. Babette has taken this a step further by working with several brands to repackage and distribute their library of recipes to consumers, starting with BakeSpace members. In one particular instance, Babette showed us how the movie “Chef” created a cookbook campaign, and then managed to get press coverage for it. As she pointed out, it was a case when paid media generated earned media, a marketer’s dream outcome.

Babette also discussed her KitchenParty video series, which she runs using Google Hangouts. These are streamed to users who want to tune live in as it happens, and can also be seen on BakeSpace TV’s YouTube channel immediately after. As an example, she talked about a recent “Screen-to-Table” episode that celebrated food’s role in Oscar-nominated movies.

Babette described how brands are intensely interested in the Google Hangouts platform, and shared some best practices with the class:

– You need to work hard to make it look easy
– Have more than one person on camera (a small panel of guests works well)
– Use people with different energy levels
– Prepare and make sure guests know how to use the technology
– Promote YouTube access after the Hangout airs live

Once again, Babette showed examples of how this live TV format can be used to promote branded content, and used the DVD launch of Disney’s film “The Hundred-Foot Journey” as an example. She also explained how food brands can use Hangouts for conducting live tastings that generate fun and candid on-camera responses from Hangout guests.

Another key driver to get people to tune in to this type of content is to enlist social media influencers to promote each Hangout. Babette pointed out that you want to work with multiple influencers who can cast a wide net via a range of followers.

What I enjoyed most about Babette’s presentation was her passion. She is really invested in her craft, and is a true entrepreneur. She has been able to develop products that are innovative and relevant to her audience, and monetize and market them successfully. Her use of technology to deliver these products is also impressive. Only a few years ago, much of what Babette does would not have been possible; she is at the forefront of using content creation and curation technology in the most efficient manner.

Hopefully the TECHmunch conference will make an appearance in LA soon, as I would very much like to see Babette in action again!