If food, tech, convenience and/or saving money is of interest to you at all (and you’re based in Toronto) take note of Feedback–a homegrown app that helps restaurants reduce food waste and customers save money. If you happen to be an avid UberEats user, we’re pretty confident you’ll be downloading the Feedback App onto your phone before you finish this article. Keep reading to meet one of the co-founders, Josh Walters, and find out why:
Business Name: Feedback App
Name & Title: Josh Walters, Co-Founder & CMO.
Education: Queen’s University
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Josh Walters: Feedback App is a mobile platform that applies dynamic pricing to the food service industry. Using demand factors like, weather, customer traffic and time of day, we lower menu prices at specific times to drive steadier traffic to restaurants while allowing customers to access food for less.
Customers can order through the app, show up to the restaurant and present their receipt to pick up great food anywhere from 20-70% off the regular price.
The app also acts to reduce food waste by empowering restaurant owners to target nearby customers with ‘smart prices’ on excess or end-of-day inventory through push notifications!
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
JW: Late night pizza. It all started when I went for late night pizza and just before close the owner offered me free full pizzas that would have otherwise been thrown away. In that moment, I realized that restaurant owners must face this dilemma all the time – they have prepared food and ingredients that they simply throw away if they can’t sell enough before close.
The initial idea was simple, we could create an app that allowed restaurant owners to list surplus food at highly discounted prices. Customers could browse through time-specific deals, and buy food for a fraction of the price. It was a win-win-win, restaurants could earn extra money on a sunk cost, customers could save money on great food, and both would work together to reduce food waste.
The next day I called my cousin Ben. Ben was working in management consulting at the time, and we spent the following weeks and months developing a business plan and trying to better understand the food industry.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
JW: I’m working to build a social enterprise that creates value above just dollars and cents. It’s amazing to go to work everyday focused on growing a company that adds value to all stakeholders, the restaurant owners, the diners and at the same time positively impacts the environment. We have an incredible, motivated team, and things are moving so fast that there’s never a dull moment.
E7: What makes your business special?
JW: Creating a business with a social mission deeply ingrained in the product, feels special. It’s also awesome to hear positive testimonies from both sides of the marketplace, our diners and restaurant partners.
E7: What makes your app special?
JW: The app is unique in that we offer exclusively low prices at restaurants at different times throughout the day. You can think of it as ‘reverse surge pricing’ – when restaurants are less busy, during off-peak hours, we lower the prices so that customers can order food for less.
As a user, a percentage of each purchase made through the app is donated towards providing meals to locals in need. You can track your donation progress, dollars saved and meals rescued directly in the app.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business and building an app?
JW: One of the major lessons I’ve learned is that things never go exactly as planned, and that’s okay. Remaining flexible and open to new ideas has been extremely important.
E7: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while building your app and working with restaurants?
JW: The biggest challenge for us was initially getting in front of restaurant owners. They’re bombarded with sales people every day and setting up a time to meet and explain our concept was tough. Once we did get meetings with restaurateurs, they often saw the value that our platform provides, which allowed us to launch with ~20 restaurants. That was at the end of September and we now have over 300 partners!
E7: What has the reaction been from restaurants, business owners and customers so far?
JW: We’ve had a great response so far! People have been excited… I mean, who doesn’t love cheap food – and if you can pick up food for less while also making a positive social impact, it’s a no-brainer! Our restaurant partners have also been really happy and their input has helped us iterate and improve the product.
E7: What have been some of the pros and cons of building your business in Toronto/Canada?
JW: Firstly, Toronto is one of the greatest food cities in the world! Due to its rich multicultural makeup, Toronto boasts amazing restaurants including cuisines from all corners of the world. Aside from the food scene, Toronto is an incredible city for young entrepreneurs. There is a large, supportive startup community, and plenty of great resources for mentorship and support. Its significant and diverse consumer market presented an opportunity to market to students, young professionals, and parents, all of whom fit differently into our budget-conscious, socially responsible, and food-loving customer base. It’s also our hometown and because of companies like UberEats (which launched in Toronto before anywhere else) restaurateurs are already familiar with adopting new technology, and customers are used to ordering online or through an app – making it easier for us to enter into the space.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business or app?
JW: Make sure to deliver the best possible experience or product or service to your customer, if you do that properly, they’ll want to tell people about it and you’ll start to grow organically.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business/app?
JW: I don’t think you can ever really be prepared for the inevitable challenges that arise, but I do wish that I didn’t let the little day to day and sometimes hour-to-hours highs and lows impact me.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the app and food business to prepare for?
JW: It’s a crowded space and restaurant owners and staff are busy people. Just stay motivated, and don’t let the no’s get you down.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
JW: A trick I use to stay organized is to write down the key things I want to get done the next day each night before going to sleep – that way I can sleep easy, knowing that when I wake up I won’t waste time thinking about what to do next.
The motivation for me is easy, I’m extremely passionate about Feedback App and truly believe that as we build the business we can change the restaurant industry and the way people think about prices in restaurants.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
JW: I’m feel lucky to admit that my major role models are my co-founders, Ben, and Dave. They’re very different from each other and both have more work experience than I do (I started Feedback directly out of school). Ben our CEO brings experience from the consulting world that has really translated into great operational efficiency, organization and strategic problem solving. Dave, is our CTO but has been an incredible role model in leading by example, always staying level-headed and rational and prioritizing a work-life balance.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
JW: Every morning I walk for about fifteen minutes to the subway, I don’t listen to music or a podcast until I arrive at the station – I use the walk as a time to clear my mind and get set for the day ahead.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
JW: I love to talk with other founders, of both early stage startups and larger, more established companies. I spend so much time brainstorming with the team and with my friends that sometimes the generation of new ideas and perspectives gets muddled, speaking to people from other industries can be incredibly helpful in gaining a fresh perspective.
E7: As company based in Canada, do you have international goals and why?
JW: We definitely have international ambitions. I see the issue of static pricing in restaurants across the world. Other industries like the flight and hotel industries use dynamic pricing to run more efficiently, and I believe that what we’re beginning to do in Toronto can change the entire restaurant industry for the better – reducing food waste, optimizing the bottom line at restaurants, and giving flexible customers access to more affordable food.
E7: Who is the Feedback App customer and why should we all download and use your app?
JW: The Feedback customer is anyone who cares about the environment and likes to save money on great food!
For more info on Feedback, click HERE!
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)