A Fun Interview with José Daniel of FoodStamp.Tech
The one word that encapsulates our Web Summit experience is: unexpected!”, says José Daniel Leal A of www.FoodStamp.tech, a Mexican startup that helps users find and pre-order food at local restaurants, saving them time while enhancing growth for restaurants.
Tell us about Foodstamp – the product and how you got the idea to create it.
While it is still an early-stage startup, the grounds of what became Foodstamp were laid four years ago.
In 2013 we started with some business ideas for the food industry and right then one of our favourite restaurants shut down. Looking deeper, we realized that the industry employs too many people to ignore the fundamental issue of new places closing down continually (we found that 80% of new restaurants close by the end of their first year) and we knew we could do something to help. The idea gradually solidified in 2014 and we continued to focus on it. By mid-2015, Foodstamp was officially born with a simple yet powerful premise: to help users find great food at the best local restaurants. We launched the first version of our app with only 5 restaurants in the Mexican city of Guadalajara. By the end of the year, we had more than 50 restaurants on board; adding options in the city of Monterrey. The adventure had only just begun!
How big is your team? Tell us what they do, when not at work!
We’re currently a core team of 7: Jorge Tinoco – The Foodie King, Melissa Zellhuber – The Software Magician, Laura Velazquez – The Design Guru, Fernanda Estrada – Ops Queen and Energy Supplier, Sergio Rosales – The Mistery Guy, Alan Leal – The UX Lad, and I, Jose Daniel Leal – The Wildcard. In addition, we have 4 team members who help us whole-heartedly when we need them: Eduardo Catalan (Chef), Sachie Sakai (Designer), José Jimenez (Photographer), Enrique Catalan (Designer).
When not working, we love trying out food at new places (wait, did I say NOT working?:D). We also love to travel all over, get into hackathons, eat pizzas, chug artisan beer, go bowling and Mario Kart, dance to Latin rhythms and watch movies.
Is this your first business? If not, tell us about your entrepreneurial journey thus far.
I have had multiple stints at entrepreneurship at various scales.
My family is in the dental industry so I’ve always been doing some support, sales and marketing work for our family business. During high-school, three of my classmates and I came up with the idea of having a mobile hair saloon mounted in a van. It was pretty cool and executable but we never really implemented it. During my graduation, I entered an entrepreneurial contest with a couple of peers. It was part of an international conference about renewable energies (CISER) and we won the 2nd place for our business idea GreenLeaft, a carpool system for universities.
After I graduated, while I was applying for full-time jobs, a few friends and I started consulting for innovation business until we got jobs that we liked. During my Masters, I developed a basic Human Computer Interface based on facial expressions to determine emotions. I tried to turn it into an app to monetize it but due to lack of relevant experience, I didn’t see it through. Soon after, Jorge and I started working on building a food discovery platform which evolved into Foodstamp. I continue to do some innovation consulting on the side to help students and fellow entrepreneurs develop new businesses.
You were at Web Summit last year. How was your experience?
The one word that encapsulates our Web Summit experience is: unexpected!
Firstly, we didn’t expect to get selected for the event and then we didn’t expect to get invited to Startup League. Once we were at the event, we got the pleasant surprise of positive business interest from Latin American startups. This led to tons of offers to integrate our platform with other businesses.
A funny and very unexpected thing happened at our booth at Web Summit. We had some time at hand and my team and I were clicking funny pictures of ourselves. Just then, the Prime Minister of Portugal stopped by at our booth! It all happened so fast – within seconds we went from making funny faces at the camera to having a formal interaction with the Prime Minister of the hosting country! Our conversation with him went on for almost 2 minutes and he asked various questions about our business with keen interest. He was quite surprised to know that through our platform one could place a food order and pay the bill even before reaching the restaurant – saving time and in-restaurant hassles.
All-in-all, Web Summit was a huge exposure for our startup and we continue to get business proposals and event invites from all over because of the connections we made in Portugal.
Do have any advice to entrepreneurs who are going to an international tech fest for the first time?
Whatever you do, be social. Make as many friends as you can and don’t worry about the money. Don’t focus on getting investors but focus on growing your network and testing your product. One of those people will know someone who will know someone who will help you along the way. The best thing to do is to continue to get validation of your product from as many people as you can. Observe what other startups are doing and connect with the ones that align with your business or industry. Share your honest experience with them about their product and expect the same from them. Instead of competing with them, make them your ally and collaborate in one way or the other.
Most importantly, remember to have fun with your team as you work together. With a solid team and new friends from everywhere, investors will arrive by themselves.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to grow Foodstamp internationally and hopefully develop other products based on the platform. We are looking for investment to grow our team and then start expanding and as we work on more ideas. It would be awesome if we can use the data we gather to create a product that can help fight obesity worldwide by giving personalized recommendations based on a person’s dietary needs. As for myself, I’d like to explore the bioelectronics field and come up with a crazy business idea there as well so I can revisit my MSc projects to create some artistic setting for a museum.
www.foodstamp.tech is part of Startup League, a growing global community of startups looking to leverage worldwide events and tech fests to get exposure to investors, partnerships, influencers and media.