A New Lunch On a Discount Every Day With Go Dish


Imagine my surprise when I bumped into a cheerful girl handing out not sunglasses like that guy the day before, but colorful foodie cards on the street corner I used to cross on my daily pilgrimage to the San Francisco Soup Company. Yes, “used to cross”, because I read and that card and embarked on some pretty darn tasty lunch adventures! But back to the point, this enthusiastic marketing gal struck up a conversation with me and asked for my business card so I could interview her bosses about Go Dish. I loved that she was so invested in this startup and that this was a blend of 2 of my favorite things: tech and food, so of course I had to go for it.

Before I start waxing poetic on my latest lunch discoveries, let’s at least give you a quick intro to Go Dish. Co-founders Jaydon Robinson and Ryan Jones worked together in the hospitality industry doing some magical numerical tricks to help ski resorts, airlines and hotels maximize their revenue with variable pricing. While skiing is amazing, let’s face it, these 2 gentlemen have a passion for food they just couldn’t deny and had a gut feeling their numerical exploits could help small business owners in today’s competitive restaurant industry. Plus, they just knew it would be brilliant since lunch was pretty much all they and their coworkers would talk about all morning!

So what is variable pricing anyway and how does it make foodies and lunch goers all over the Financial District happy? Variable pricing is simply the practice of lowering or increasing pricing based on a variable, in this case, pick-up time. Jaydon and Ryan interviewed dozens of restaurant owners and realized that one of their biggest challenges was what I like to call “rush hour traffic.” Most patrons come in during the same 1-2 hour span for lunch or 2-3 hour span for dinner, and the restaurant churns along at a sleepy lull outside of peak times, but expenses like lease and electricity don’t go down when there are just a few customers, so the fix is to bring more in and space them out. Go Dish helps with both. By offering a varying discount on dishes depending on when a patron comes in, Go Dish spaces patrons out so wait times are shorter (regulars don’t get discouraged by the crowd) and lunch goers enjoy a nice little discount. Go Dish also serves as a sort of Yelp, offering a rotating menu of lunch options from dozens of restaurants. I’ve actually been using it to discover new places to eat (I love Yelp, but it doesn’t give me a discount to the new spots it helps me discover.)

And now for a couple of great entrepreneurship lessons Jaydon and Ryan generously shared with me:

  1. There is absolutely no reason to build everything out ASAP. Their minimum viable product was just a prototype of what the app looked like. None of the buttons worked but they showed it to people and asked them what the value was for them, gauged how willing they were to engage with it. Be creative in testing what people do and don’t like. There’s no point in throwing resources into something before you know it’ll work.
  2. It’s been beaten to death, but you need to be able to hook people with a stellar 1-2 line explanation (aka your elevator pitch.) Restaurant owners are accosted by so many reps from daily deals sites Jaydon and Ryan had to figure out how to cut through the noise and differentiate themselves. The trick was to show them the value right away. Don’t lead in with a long story or flowery example, just get to the heart of the matter and show them how you’ll make their lives better.
  3. Not all advice is created equal. The best piece of advice anyone gave them was that a lot of people are going to tell you how to do things, but you have to figure out what makes sense for you and your business model. Stay open-minded, take it all in, and then assess which will help you reach your goals.

Last but not least, the part everyone’s been waiting for, the food! In true food porn form, here are just a few of the delectable dishes I’ve been chowing down on thanks to Go dish.

Prawn Pad Thai from Vanda Siam

Prawn Pad Thai from Vanda Siam

 

Burrata & Tomato (not shown) Salad from Taverna Aventine

Burrata & Tomato (not shown) Salad from Taverna Aventine

Enjoy more pictures of those daily deals on their Twitter handle.

Read up on other startup interviews and trends here 🙂

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A Little Attempt at Tech Fiction


This is a very different blog post I write today, but I thought this could be interesting too. I attended a fiction writing workshop for the tech community last week and my 1st assignment was just to write something. It’s a little socially analytic and rather a reverie on the tech side, but I would love read your feedback!

Notes From the Fringes of the SF Tech Scene

A bird is singing. A bird? Yes, a bird is singing right outside my window. It’s a gorgeous day out, the sky a brilliant shade of blue and Glen Park is sleepily coming out of its peaceful slumber.

It’s a funny thing, living in Glen Park. It’s one of the few bastions of San Francisco neighborhoods still fighting off the assault of all the Googlers, and Facebookers, and miscellaneous other tech startupers engulfing the city with their 6 digit pay checks and voracious appetites for Meetups. In Glen Park, jogging strollers and bright-eyed family dogs are largely more ubiquitous than bespectacled coders. There are not Hackathons or startup houses, just families who have lived in San Francisco their whole lives enjoying brunch at Tyger’s.

Who am I to talk though? I’m a techie myself. Well, so to speak. I don’t know how to code, unless you count a few timid and rather futile flirtations with Codecademy and Le Site Du Zero. As fascinating as the world of web design and databases and compilers churning to keep making our applications faster are, music, writing and my cats and friends always stay steady at the top of my priorities. (I’m still working on mazimizing my time, sadly such a finite resource.) So how does the artsy, cat-obsessed, barely post-adolescent type get involved with startups? Why, doing everything the engineers don’t have the time or interest in doing: the marketing, the recruiting, the fundraising… there’s lots left, but nothing quite as fascinating (or glorious) as building.

Engineers are the kings of the Silicon Valley. They design, they build, they test and automate and optimize and release… some pretty amazing things. When I unlock my iPhone (or imagine using my retina to do so), I see just a few dozen of the many apps they have created that truly make my life more informed and enjoyable – the ones that get a drone to deliver my burrito, tell my scooter fill up on gas & pull up by the curb in front of my apartment in 10 minutes, or simply order me to get off my butt and go on a hike today (yes, my shirt knows what I did yesterday and it’s not happy!). Not to limit engineer’s work to apps, since the work they’re doing on automating and refining medicine, or on bringing space shittle flight to the masses is just as useful and even more revolutionary in many ways, but I simply can’t afford a digital doctor or shuttle ticket just yet. And while I too resent the conceited variety of engineer that patronizes me since I don’t know how to code, I love and admire the many humble, down to earth and caring engineers I have befriended over the years. They’ve always opened their brains to my desire to understand what they do and guided me through some pretty confusing online coding tutorials.

The hipsters engineers poke fun at on Hipster or Homeless aren’t the cool kids anymore. They just don’t bring any creative energy to the table, and as a quirky, curious kid in high school, this feels like a victory for the outsiders who cared about learning and inventing more than being cool and attractive. So while I continue to spend too much time blogging, writing and walking my cats, and birds just don’t sing when you’ve got $300+ headphones drowning the rest of the world out, I secretly hope Code Made Cool might just whip me up into tech royalty.

The Crunchies: Tech Awards, Shocking Winners, and Crazy Laughter!


TechCrunch Crunchies

First of all, I am incredibly thankful to my boss at RocketSpace, Duncan Logan, who very generously sponsored any of his employees who wanted to attend TechCrunch’s Crunchies.

I’m ashamed to admit that, as a complete noob, I had no idea the whole point was the drinks, networking and other cavorting after the awards and promptly snuck out when I miraculously got a SideCar right after the last award was dished out (hey, who knows if I could have gotten one at 11:00 pm?!)

Even so, man were the Crunchies awesome! John Oliver is ridiculously funny, and some of the award presenters weren’t half bad either.

I did write a blog post about the Crunchies for work, but here’s my unfiltered (well, lightly filtered) and completely personal account! *There are more than enough websites where you can peruse the list of nominees and winners so I’ll spare you the lists and get on to the juicy parts.

Oh yes, the fine folks at TechCrunch know their shit. The whole thing started off with a very sarcastic musical opener (“Technical Issues,” just a guess based on the number of times that phrase sprang up) performed by none other than theater actress Spencer Rose, who made a slew of playful jabs at corporate sponsor Yahoo’s endless acquisitions, the colorful selection on Tinder and surge pricing.

Since I figured you’d wanna watch, here’s the Youtube vid ;D

As amazing as that intro was, John Oliver really drove the entire thing into helpless hysterics, ripping on everything from nerds judging each other, to Uber’s shady kitten deliveries & surge pricing, to the tech industry itself (who else would start off with chastising the crowd “Why does the tech industry need an awards ceremony? You already have most of the money in the world!”), all the way to CNN’s sad analysis of 2013 as the year of the Selfie. But, oh wait! He then went on to describe a vivid shot of some crazy guy jet skiing smack dab in the middle of a hurricane in NYC… and stopping, why else? To snap a Selfie.

Yes, I did have a hard time narrowing it down to just those 3 choice moments, and yeah, John Oliver told that jet ski anecdote so vividly I actually thought I was dreaming it!

The Daily Show vet wasn’t the only one who could pull a joke though. Dave McClure ripped on Clinkle’s inability to create well, much of anything really, by sarcastically declaring it the best bootstrapped startup of the year, and FiftyThree’s John Ikeda shocked (and dare I say delighted?) everyone by slipping in an “and we’re hiring!” before taking off with the Crunchy for Best Design to an acute and contagious outburst of laughter.

This is getting long so I’ll have to leave the rest to the net, but don’t be shy, Google and Youtube all of this. You won’t regret it!

Your Very Own (Virtual) Tour of Google (they have deer!)


Yup, you guessed it: today Google unveiled a virtual tour of it’s Data Center in Lenoir, North Carolina for the public to discover what their mysterious data centers actually look like. That’s not all Google revealed on its blog today though. There is also an album of breathtaking photos of Google’s data centers taken by the talented Connie Zhou. Here are my favorites — you can check out the rest on their new site Where the Internet Lives.

Douglas Country

Douglas County, Georgia

Council Bluffs, Iowa

 

Hamina, Finland

Fiinish Googlers ice fishing outside what used to be a paper mill in Hamina, Finland