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Russian FoodRock Menus has recently launched to allow users to take their smartphones and order food. We caught up with the company’s co-founders for information, but first, a brief overview of the basics of their business. Founded by current CEO Stavros Panayi and CTO Dmitry Kovtunov, the service is designed for mobile users (the iPhone app can be found here and the iPad app here.) and created to be a more comprehensive service for ordering food. Probably most significant is the ability to obtain the food, which FoodRock Menus allows users to do by opening the app, selecting the dishes that they would like, paying, and then sending the order to the restaurant, all for free. It is not limited to dining in, either, as the application allows users to order takeout or have the food delivered (where it would compete against the Rocket Internet-backed service Foodpanda, about whom we have previously written). The app does allow users to alter their orders after sending by hitting the “Ask Restaurant” button, but they say that restaurants may be unwilling to alter orders if they’ve already begun preparing the food. In this case, it’s basically up to the user to send the change-request in a timely manner. Users can also use the app to rate and review particular meals and restaurants and earn “Rock Points” by becoming regular customers at a particular place. To allay privacy concerns, the company says that none of the user’s data are stored on the company’s servers. Finally, although the service is currently based in Moscow, they already have their sights set on expansion to St. Petersburg. Although I’ve provided a brief overview of the company, I felt that it would be good to hear from the founders themselves and managed to arrange a Q&A exchange about their goals, investors, and future.
What is the basic mission of your service?
Stavros: Every restaurant business faces a number of inter-related challenges which are hard to solve. These challenges include marketing, customer service, upselling, repeat business, customer engagement and analytics. FoodRock Menus was founded to help restaurants in Russia deal with these inter-related challenges. At the same time, we want to enable restaurant customers to interact with restaurants in the most exciting, effortless and convenient way possible, with mobile being our favourite platform.
Who are your investors?
Stavros: FoodRock Menus is currently boot-strapped but we are preparing to raise Round A financing from investors. Sometime in September is a likely timeframe.
How many customers do you have?
Dima: We’re now involved in testing our end-user platform on iPhone first, with an iPad version due to release in the next few weeks. While we haven’t switched on many of our end-user features yet, we already have downloads numbering in the thousands from the App Store and held the number seven spot in the Russian Appstore Food category (for iPhone) in June.
The FoodRock database includes more than 1,200 restaurant locations together with more than 210,000 menu items. With the launch of our free entry-level “Live Menu” product for restaurants, we are now focused on leveraging our data to sign up restaurant clients.
Do you have any partnerships at the moment?
Stavros: We have a partnership with PrivatBank. We’ll be rolling out amazing features based on this partnership in the next couple of months –we’re pretty certain nothing like it exists in Russia currently!
We are also in talks with possible media and content partners. Unfortunately we can’t disclose names.
How much does your service cost?
Dima: Our service is always free for end-users. For restaurants, we offers a SaaS platform specifically created for the restaurant industry which works on a freemium model with the “Live Menu” entry-level product being free and restaurants paying to access more advanced features.
Who are your competitors and how would you say that you stand out from them?
Dima: There are no direct competitors in the Russian market to FoodRock Menus as a restaurant SaaS platform. But there are various online platforms in Russia which offer a single service such as table bookings or food orders – these companies may compete with certain FoodRock Menus’ products or may even become partners (Editor’s Note: the site for potential FoodRock Menus partners is located here).
Ultimately we stand out from the competition because FoodRock Menus is genuinely about using cutting-edge tech to create a sustainable partnership with restaurants, a win-win situation for FoodRock and restaurants.
Our free “Live Menu” product is a good example of this. A Live Menu enables a restaurant to manage its online menu from a single place and then instantly publish it across the web, including on a restaurant’s website, Facebook and VKontakte pages and the FoodRock end-user apps. Using the FoodRock control panel, a restaurant can add dish photos, prices, discounts and nutritional information to its Live Menu in real-time. It’s a hugely valuable product which we give to restaurants for free because we want to help, and build trust with, local businesses.
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vita at goaleurope dot com