A crucial ingredient for any business is that it solves a problem, and Swiss-based Foodetective definitely does that. But more than this, and maybe more than they realize, this hospitality startup is showcasing to the industry how technology, soft skills and Millennial attitudes to work can come together successfully.
Foodetective can trace its roots back to a mobile burger truck run by founder, Andrea Tassistro. While criss-crossing Switzerland, he realized he was spending more time managing software than making sales; and, as a serial startup founder, he saw a big opportunity. So, he partnered with Glion alumnus Edouard Thimon and the pair got to work seizing it.
“We’re a tech company,” says Edouard, who is Foodetective’s COO. “A unified API (Application Programming Interface) for the food and restaurant industry, enabling businesses to manage all of their systems through a single interface.
“Restaurants and F&B businesses can be using up to 18 different platforms on a daily basis, for management, staffing, stock, delivery, bookings and reviews. We bring all of these existing systems together in one space, delivering efficiency because all their data and analytics are on a single platform, and increased revenues because they better understand what works for them.”
“We realize that restaurants care a lot about marketing. They care about their visibility. This is why we have a B2C channel where we use the power of influencer marketing, which are our detectives.”
More than a solution, an ecosystem
Head to foodetective.co and you’ll quickly see that, while they may describe themselves in functional terms as an API, they are actually a community of consumers, influencers and business-owners. All supporting each others’ needs; and all sharing a love for food and excellent service. Move over to sister site business.foodetective.co, and you can clearly understand the functional benefits they bring as a B2B solution.
“We realize that restaurants care a lot about marketing. They care about their visibility,” says CMO and Glion alumna, Verónica Stacey. “This is why we have a B2C channel where we use the power of influencer marketing, which are our detectives. They write reviews, guides and really promote the restaurant from a visibility angle.
“The detectives are influencers, chefs, bloggers or have related experience. Restaurants on our platform can book detectives to do a tasting at their venue, they go, eat, take videos and photos and write a review at the end. We collect all this data and content, and we use it to create social media ads to boost the visibility and credibility of the restaurant to consumers. It’s a 360 degree service.”
“We help the restaurant improve their services and better manage their operations through Foodetective”
For the influencers, chefs and bloggers, it’s an opportunity to become a food ambassador, to advise their audience on where to go. It’s also a platform that empowers their career ambitions, growing their followers and building their personal brand. And more than this, they’re able to influence the restaurants, as well as their guests.
“If a detective interacts with a restaurant and they don’t rate it highly, they can leave personal feedback for the restaurateur,” says Edouard. “We help the restaurant improve their services and better manage their operations through Foodetective. We also present them in the foodetective.co directory so that customers can choose from restaurants that we’re proud to recommend.”
Building a customer-focused team
All startups need colleagues that can collaborate, get stuck in and step outside their comfort zone. In Glion alumni, Foodetective has found this and more, with six diverse roles held by graduates, each bringing individual expertise combined with a passion for customer service excellence.
“We need people with a certain type of attitude, and hospitality graduates from Glion have that”
“When we hire, we don’t only value years of experience,” says Verónica. “We have to consider how we would get along as a team and put our experience into action. A startup is nothing like a corporate environment; it’s ever changing. You do everything all the time and it’s trial and error. We need people with a certain type of attitude, and hospitality graduates from Glion have that.
“They also have the customer-facing focus, which is what you need. You start with a few clients and those few clients are your stars, and you need to know how to treat them, how to work with them in order to grow. And that’s what we find in Glion alumni.”
Edouard adds, “We all have different skillsets because of how our paths have been after Glion. Verónica, based in Madrid, takes care of marketing and communications globally. Manon Duport, based in Paris, is the head of the detective program; Michael Wilson, based in London, is leading partnerships; Lamia Benmoussa is our Sales Ninja in Geneva; and every year we recruit interns from Glion, such as Shahab Shafieehanjani.
“We have a similar background in hospitality, although different expertise, so it’s great to build the foundations of the company together.”
With €2 million of seed investment already secured, and Series A funding around the corner, the Foodetective team is focused on helping restaurants better manage their operations across a variety of verticals, giving them more time to deliver excellent service.
“We need to finish off all the verticals we have left to develop,” says Verónica. “There’s a few things that are coming soon in our platform for restaurants, and we want to integrate more partners so that restaurants using a specific software can just click and connect it without having to move to a new one.”
“It’s all about growing, building partnerships, and developing features,” adds Edouard. “The most important thing is to surround ourselves with great people; then success will naturally follow.”
Foodetective – the future hospitality model?
Spend a little time using the Foodetective website, or app, and you can’t help but feel that the business is one of the best examples so far of humans and tech working in synergy within hospitality.
It feels like a new way, and is clear proof of how tech can empower people, not replace them, and how human insight and passion continues to have immense value in our new experience-driven, digital-powered world.
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