A couple of weeks ago, Jeremy Brinkerhoff had the chance to interview a Chicago bootstrapper and founder of Foodjunky, Travis Johnson.
Jeremy: Please give us a brief description of your company.
Travis: Foodjunky simplifies the way companies order food for group meetings. Instead of going around with a menu asking what everyone wants, you use Foodjunky. We allow you to pick whatever restaurant you want to order from and put everyone’s e-mail address in, then everyone gets the menu in their inbox. They order their own food. Everything comes at the same time. Everyone’s happy.
Jeremy: Sounds like a great idea. How did you come up with it?
Travis: After talking to a lot of executive assistants I found that ordering food takes them way too much time. In particular, one executive assistant I spoke to plans only two meals a year but it’s for the entire company. It takes her a week to walk the menus around and get everyone’s order. With Foodjunky, she would be done in a couple of minutes. After you’ve got everyone’s e-mail address entered in there once, the next time you go to do it, all you do is pick the restaurant, hit send and you’re done.
Jeremy: Can you tell us about any major pivots you had to make along the way?
Travis: One major pivot we made was changing our target market from the restaurant to the corporation. While researching competition, we found that other similar services charged the restaurants to be listed on their site. Rather than spend my time finding both restaurants and users, I decided we should get rid of one segment – the restaurant. I had a theory that corporate customers who want to do group ordering would have no problem paying a small percentage or fee to use something that’s going to save them time. So I did a whole bunch of interviews with corporations and executive assistants. They all said my different plans for charging didn’t scare them at all. For them, this saved them time and reduced costs compared to corporate catering. Now we only charge the corporation, not the restaurant. The restaurant is just the vendor. I simply call them and say, “I’ve got an order for you. I need you to deliver it here and here’s payment.” It’s that simple.
Jeremy: How has that pivot affected your business thus far?
Travis: Now that we’re a corporate site, our end customer is the corporation and not the restaurant. Since the restaurants aren’t paying us, we can be fair to everyone. We don’t have preferred restaurants who pay us more than others. Instead, we work with any restaurant that the corporation wants to ensure that they are completely happy with their order. So we’re really providing a service that benefits all involved.
Jeremy: What would you say is personally a key skill or experience that you lacked when you started that caused you the most problems?
Travis: Quite honestly, my biggest problems were related to managing people and using lean principles. Previously, I was a manager of sorts for a small established company for which I needed to do sales as well. It was a very friendly environment because everything was already established. So, starting something new and finding out that certain people weren’t really working and having to get rid of them in a timely fashion was extremely important. It was hard, but now I’ve learned that lesson. Lean principles, pivoting and testing your hypotheses are a part of the business building process. Just remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. The important thing is to admit it as quickly as possible so you can move on to what’s next.
Jeremy: All right that about wraps it up. Thanks for your time Travis. Have a great day.
1 thought on “Travis Johnson discuss formation of Foodjunky and pivots driven by customer feedback”
Pingback: Bootstrappers Breakfast interview with Travis Johnson | foodjunky blog