Eat Safe is a restaurant directory app that allows people with dietary restrictions to easily find new places to eat out that are safe for their diets
Briefly explain your business/business concept and the problem it aims to solve:
Eat Safe is a restaurant directory app that allows people with dietary restrictions to easily find new places to eat out that are safe for their diets.
There are up to 20 million people in the UK with dietary restrictions and our research has shown that 70% of those would like to eat out more but just find it too difficult to find the right information. This means a restricted life for the individual and hundreds of millions in lost revenue for restaurants.
We give the power of choice back to the consumers with a effortless search system, opening up a whole new set of customers for the restaurants while helping them complying with food information laws.
How did you come up with this idea?
My girlfriend got a severe stomach virus that required incredibly strong antibiotics, and after the treatment she had developed a soy allergy. We're both real foodies, and I suddenly saw how difficult it was to find a restaurant to eat at when you have to check every dish for allergens. Both my sisters have wheat allergies so I'd also seen them struggle to find food at restaurants over the years. This made me realise there was a genuine problem to investigate. The more I talked to people the more clear this issue became, and so Eat Safe was born!
What stage is your business currently at, and what are your plans moving forward?
We currently have the MVP for our menu management system live, and are on boarding restaurants for a pilot scheme in Islington. The consumer side of the app is very soon to being competed and so we're reaching out to our network to get beta testers on board.
The plan now is to prove the concept and rapidly prototype in the Islington pilot, before incorporating more boroughs across London into the beta, with the aim for wider public release in the start of 2017.
What do you feel are your three biggest successes with your business so far?
My three biggest successes so far have been:
Validation of the problem through research. By actually going out and talking to customers I was able to truly understand that this was an issue that needed addressing and get deep insight into what people wanted.
Winning CitySpark, the start up competition at City. I hated public speaking when I was younger, but by throwing myself out of my comfort zone with the opportunities through CitySpark I now think pitching is a real strength of mine. The seed money has also been a real bonus in getting everything off the ground!
Getting the first restaurants on board. We knew there was a real demand from customers, but the restaurant industry is notoriously difficult to change. It was much harder than initially thought to just talk to the right people, but once we were through the door the response was generally great. Being able to upload that first menu was a fantastic feeling!
How has being a student at City helped you to develop your idea?
I didn't even think about entrepreneurship before going on the CityStarters Weekend at the start of my course. Those 3 days helped ignite a passion for entrepreneurship and open my eyes to a whole new exciting world.
Since then the CitySpark competition and summer school has helped me further develop my ideas, given me an opportunity to develop and practice my pitch, and provided me with the contacts and seed funding to make it a reality.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurial students at City?
The most important advice is to build a product to solve a problem, don't find a problem for you product. By starting with the need first you know that there will be a demand for what you are doing. There are far too many startups that spend months and hundreds of thousands of pounds building a cool bit of tech only to find out nobody actually wants it. Know who your target market is, actually talk to potential customers and truly figure out what it is you can help them solve.
Also just do it! It's seems terrifying to start a business, but you can get going for virtually nothing nowadays, and there is never a better time to experiment than during your studies. Take the plunge and at worst you'll learn some great lessons.
If you are seeking help or investment - let us know what you need to help your business grow?
We're currently looking to expand the team to include a technical co-founder. We are also looking for people with food allergies who live in London who are interested in being part of the pilot. If either of those interest get in touch!