Going Online: Industry Interview with Flipdish

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Tell us about yourself, your background and how you got into the food business.

Flipdish was founded in 2015 by myself and my brother Conor. We are both Irish and grew up in Dublin. Conor was always the technical child so if there was a problem with the TV or the internet in the house growing up, he was the one to fix it, and that hasn’t changed. He went into software development and I studied architecture. We have both set up business prior to Flipdish and we have learned a lot from those experiences.

What gave you the idea to set up Flipdish?

Myself and Conor saw that people increasingly wanted to order online and pre-­order rather than call in their orders or wait in store for their food to be made. We were no different and were often frustrate when trying to order our weekly takeaway, so we decided that we would try and fix it. We started to talk to takeaway owners and after 100s of conversations, we understood the pain points from the restaurants perspective. Times are changing and people want to order online, there is no changing that. Before Flipdish, the only option these takeaway owners had was to send their customers to 3rd party aggregator apps who charge punitive rates and take ownership of their valued customers. Takeaways realise how dangerous this is for their business and see that Flipdish is the best solution.

How many staff do you employ?
We have 15 at the moment and will have 25-­‐30 by the end of the year. I can’t speak highly enough about our team. We have a great culture and our customers are at the core of that. One of our values is Customer Success. So when a takeaway joins Flipdish, they will have a team of people helping them get more online orders and build their business.

Can you tell us about Flipdish – how you use the online ordering system, USP?
Flipdish are online ordering specialists and give our customers (takeaways, delis, butchers, cafes etc.) a way to receive orders directly from their own customers (the ‘eaters’ as I like to call them) through a beautiful multi-­‐page website generated from optimised Flipdish templates, and through world-­‐class native iOS and Android apps; all branded in the takeaways own brand.

This means that our customers can have their own world-­‐class online ordering system in their own brand in a matter of days. They can concentrate on what they do best, making amazing food, and we concentrate on building great products for takeaways and helping our customers to get lots of online orders.

Flipdish customers get top class support every step of the way, from setting up their online website to getting assistance and advice from our expert staff about social media, Adwords, in-­‐store marketing and more. Our customer success team in our office in Sandyford, Dublin is brilliant. We have a great team of friendly, energetic, experienced people who come to work every day looking forward to helping our customers to be successful.

What are the main features of the online ordering system?

Flipdish was built with mobile in mind. When designing a system like Flipdish you have to make 1000s of decisions, “Do we allow people to add items to the basket before or after they tell us their address”, “Do we even need to ask them for their address or can we use geolocation to determine their location” etc. and we asked ourselves every time, will this decision make it easier for the end user to place an order. Staying true to this mantra resulted in an extremely fast ordering flow, and this results in more orders for our customers.

On top of this, our customers love the support we provide, the sales reports and the consumer analytics. We still a relatively small team so we can move fast and if our customers ask for specific features, we are always open to building them.

What are the benefits to using Flipdish over Deliveroo and Just-­Eat?

These companies claim that they bring you customers, but they don’t. They actually do everything they can to steal your customers from you. If someone Googles your takeaway, Just-­‐Eat and Deliveroo will try and intercept that search with AdWords leading YOUR customers away from YOUR website and to their own website where they will charge you anywhere from 13% -­‐ 30% to receive the order. Not to mention that all your competitors are listed on these aggregators so there is a chance that you will lose the order altogether. If you walked into H&M and asked if you could order online they would not point to an Amazon sticker on their shop front window and ask you to order from there -­‐ not in a million years.

Flipdish give takeaways a way to protect and build their brand and maintain and reclaim their customer base. Our customers love the way they can control the marketing and sales touch points with their customers and build that relationship.

Who are your clients/success of the ordering system so far?

We have had dozens of customers leave Just-­Eat because they are getting so many orders through their own websites. They have increased their overall online orders and increased their profit margin by 50%. That is more money in the back pocket of takeaway owners across the country, and that is success in my mind.

In what countries does Flipdish operate?
We are in 10 countries at the moment but can accommodate customers in most nations — have very few limitations geographically.

How did you come up with the logo and name for Flipdish?
We wanted to have a mascot of some sort and we bounced around a few ideas and settled on Flip the Dish… and it stuck.

What challenges did you face in setting up the business?
Like with anyone starting a new business myself and Conor faced lots of obstacles. We met with dozens of investors who didn’t believe in our business model. Thanks fully we eventually met some great people who took a risk on us. Besides our very supportive family, the one constant positive was our customers who were feeling a lot of pain in the current market and understood that Flipdish could really help them. Today we have around 1000 such customers who we feel privileged to help achieve huge success online.

You’re in business over 3 years. What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed during this time period?
The biggest thing we are seeing is that takeaway owners are now realising the power of “owning” their customers and they are thinking twice about joining aggregators like Just-­‐Eat and Deliveroo.

What learnings would you take from setting up your own business?
Never spend a Euro unless it’s going to help you make back more than a Euro. Stay focused. Listen to people’s point of view and get their advice but remember that everyone’s advice is influenced by their own set of circumstances and no one but you knows your business as well as you do and; if you take bad advice, that’s entirely your own mistake. Another way of looking at that is to always understand what you are doing -­‐-­‐ just because everyone is buying houses doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to buy a house.

Is there anything the government could be doing to make your life easier?
Enterprise Ireland has been very supportive so far. Their goal is to increase employment opportunities in Ireland and to help Irish businesses.

Is there an app that you wish you designed yourself?
I wish I could claim that I designed the Flipdish ordering apps, but my brother Conor has to take the credit for that. I also really like Instagram and Snapchat but you need to be careful you don’t waste away too much time with them. If you’re into your exercise, Stava is a great app for tracking your running and cycles etc.

What is your favorite thing about working on Flipdish?
I like the fact that we can process 1000s of orders every day, and are having that kind of impact on people. We get to meet business owners, big and small, and we provide them with a valuable service that really helps their businesses to grow. I love the fact that it’s a win-­‐win situation. And I love the free food they give me 😉

What is your favourite type of food?
I love all types of food. I am probably one of the biggest takeaway customers in the country! I really like Thai, Indian, Sushi, but burgers and pizzas are right up there too. I can’t decide between them.

Do you have a businessperson you look up to and would like to meet?
I’d like to meet Anthony Bourdain. He knows his food and seems like good craic.

If you could have a dinner party with 3 people alive or dead who would you invite?
I’d have it with my family. At the end of the day, it’s not all about business or grandiose knowledge gathering and you can’t beat having fun with those you love.

What is your opinion on the Irish food landscape?
I once heard that countries that experienced famines and severe hardships in the past developed a rich culinary culture. Restricted access to top of the range ingredients results in creative, innovative new dishes and a rich food culture. Unfortunately, they say that Ireland is the only exception to the rule. I disagree! You can find really great food all across the country. Our burgers, cheeses, meats, and breads are some of the best in the world. As we become more multicultural, the options will continue to develop.

How do you see the future for food technology?
I think that integrations will play a big role. Different technologies will be able to interact and talk with one another in a helpful way. So for example, your taxi will automatically be ordered when you pay your bill at the restaurant, and your heating at home will be triggered to turn on once you pay your tax bill. Ordering services, whether exposed via apps, chatbots, or voice will get better at context. Both in simple ways (eg. If you order from the office, your office card will be charged and if you order from home, your personal card will be charged) and complex ways (eg. Your daily lunch subscription will be automatically paused if you’re on holidays in Spain).

What drives food trends? Is it suppliers? Media? Or customers?
One of my favourite books is Chaos by James Gleick – in terms of taking a complicated subject and distilling it to very understandable and enjoyable prose it’s the best I’ve read. It describes chaos theory which, in very high level (and perhaps slightly inaccurate) terms, is where small changes can have huge, seemingly random, knock on effects. And in real life circumstances, it’s impossible to know what change caused what result. I think food trends are affected in a similar way – perhaps a single celeb photographed eating nachos will cause a Mexican food trend to start, or that same celeb will be involved in a scandal the week after will cause the opposite trend to start. Or a well-­‐publicised listeria outbreak by a single vendor will spell the end of the popularity of the affected genre of food. Safe to say, I’m not going to attempt to predict any food trends anytime soon.

What advice would you give someone setting up their new business venture?
Lots of people have the dream of starting a business, and I think actually starting it is half the battle. I would recommend that you begin to research your idea before you leave your day job, and you can work on the business in the evenings. You can always find a few hours per day to work on it. And then once you’re ready to work on it full time, make a plan and execute. Or as Richard Branson would say: Screw it and just do it!


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