An entrepreneur can be a lonely existence, especially in the very early stages of a new business idea. So months back, gestating on how best to help restaurants serve more food we love, I turned to my friend Spotify, Sonos and in particular Rudimental. With the volume higher than it really needed to be, working alone from home, my lunch break often included me dancing around the kitchen to this song in a manner that was not age appropriate.
Some songs have the ability to inspire you. "Eye of the tiger" to run a little faster at the gym, ,Blur - "song 2" to wake up in the morning and this song has been my friend when I have needed inspiration to help craft a range of new ideas for how to digitalise two basic questions we fudge over every time we go out to a restaurant to be fed. "What's good here?" & "How is your meal Sir?"
This clip is the best I have found to depict how deep the pleasure to share food we love can be. It may even make you a little emotional watching it.
And all this from the guys who brought us cup-a-soup!
"Food is part of every rite of passage," says Kima Cargill, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington. "It's a way to connect to one's ancestors and tell a story or a family or cultural narrative, or to manage bereavement." In other words, food can be who you are, what you want to remember, what you hope for, and how we emotionally form bonds with friends, family and our partners. With a relationship that intimate, how could we not get emotional about it?
Over the last 20 years we have seen food quality transformed in restaurants and pubs across the UK. London, once the place for pie and mash, is now revered by many critics wiser than me as the food capital of the world. Our nation has evolved into a melting pot of new concepts, tastes, pop ups, inspirational chefs and restaurant entrepreneurs who share a common vision of serving us more food we love. In our pubs chicken in the basket and egg rolls have been replaced by gastro menus , gourmet burgers and cafe macchiato's. We all have so many great food experiences to celebrate, just no place to share it.
Three years ago Yumpingo was born eating in a restaurant chain when I was handed a business card by the waiter saying "we love your feedback". I wanted to tell them the calamari was not crispy enough, the pizza dough was light and perfectly baked and the crumble with lemon and basil ice cream was to die for. I turned the card around and I was instructed to go home, log onto a 50 character web address, spend 20 minutes filling our a web survey and have a chance of maybe winning a bottle of wine. Today whenever I book a table I get an email to my inbox from Open Table or Bookatable a few days later telling me to do exactly the same.
In a world of real-time live content and social sharing to me this was the equivalent of arriving at Heathrow from a weekend shopping spree in NYC and being told by the customs officer to go home and email HMRC in a week or so the value of "gifts" you have purchased. I suspect not many people will do it.
TripAdvisor has changed the way we book hotels around the world. It's the de facto place I go to check the rooms are clean and location of where I am staying before I book anywhere.
The hotel in Rome will always be walking distance to Trevi fountain and you can bank on a comfy, clean bed in April, being just the same a year later. Trusting a restaurant review is a far more hit and miss experience. Staff change, service is variable, ingredients change, menus change. One in ten thousand diners post restaurant reviews of their experience on TripAdvisor, Yelp or Time Out. There is no way of knowing what is a genuine review and what is a disgruntled competitor. Their reviews are not representative, are often out of date, anonymous and critically have no bearing on what the kitchen is serving right now.
So over the last few months I have put all my worldly possessions (bar the kids and my amazing wife) into a new venture to fix this problem. Yumpingo is all about providing a meaningful platform that takes these changes into account, providing real-time dish specific recommendations from fellow diners about what’s hot right now.
My discovery has shown that kitchens, restaurant owners, chefs, waiters and diners are all completely aligned to serve and be served more food we love. They may even all agree with Rudimental and Tiny Temper that love in this context really is more than a four letter verb.
I now play this song most days in our Yumpingo office, a little louder than it should be. Some of the team of course just see a crazy middle aged man dancing to a rap song in the corner of the office who should grow up and know better. Others get it.
We have just started on our journey. Yumpingo is launching in London and Stockholm this summer. I hope you get it. I don't even like rap.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first Yumpingo blog. If any of this resonates with you I would love to hear from you and get your feedback. You can reach me @yumpingo on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page.