The Foodie culture has swept up a generation as we can see from the abundance of celebrity cook shows, trendy new restaurants and Instagram #foodporn. Experiencing unique meals and perusing restaurants across the city has become more than a common pastime for most – it’s become a way of life.
Attempting to bring meals back to the roots of great food and great company – Grub Club founders Olivia Sibony and Siddarth Vijayakumar created an online marketplace where talented home cooks can connect with dinner guests. Subtracting an overpriced menu and an over priced venue from the picture, Grub Club allows customers to enjoy a delicious meal, great company and affordable pricing.
We spoke to Olivia more to get an indepth look into Grub Club:
Q1.Tell us a little about Grub Club and your personal motivation for starting this business?
Grub Club is the collaborative platform that connects foodies with amazing dining experiences. We connect awesome chefs with unique and underused spaces allowing them to showcase their skills while bringing a new lease of life to our high streets.
I set this up, along with my business partner Siddarth Vijayakumar, in order to give more people the chance to experience new ways of dining out and meet like-minded people, while giving a platform for talented chefs to showcase their skills, without the need for huge amounts of money to set up a restaurant.
Q2.Can you give us a rundown of how Grub Club works?
Grub Club works as a booking platform. Imagine airbnb but for dining experience instead of staying in people’s home.
Q3.Who are your key stakeholders and how are you offering them value?
We are a marketplace. So on the one hand we have chefs and venues that we connect. On the other hand we have diners. We bring everyone together through the platform.
We bring value to the chefs and venues by connecting them, so they can all get a platform for exposure as well as a means to make extra money.
We bring value to diners quite simply by giving them access to amazing meals that are not available on the high street
Q4.What is Grub Club ’s biggest achievement to date? How did you go about accomplishing this?
We are a market-maker. And we are very proud that we have created an opportunity for talented chefs and for underused venues to get more exposure and income, while spreading joy amongst diners who love the experience and meet like-minded people. We built this up from the ground up, purely from grass-roots work and working upwards, and this has translated into a strong brand that people love and trust, as we truly represent all our stakeholders equally, and deliver something positive and worthwhile to all those involved.
Q5.What has been your biggest set back? How did you deal with it?
The challenge of growing a new concept in a busy market is a constant challenge, especially without big funding to help it grow quicker.
Q6.Could you shed some light on the technology and tools used to build Grub Club ?
We built our technology in-house and most of our tools are in-house, though we are also exploring interesting plug-ins to add extra resources to our users, which make more sense to plug in than to build in-house. Examples include photo-uploading tools or shareable widgets.
The booking engine itself was and continues to be extremely complex but needs to be entirely bespoke, so continues to be developed in-house
Q8.What are some of the hurdles and roadblocks you still face?
With minimal resources, we are always trying to find new and innovative ways to grow, without having to inject huge amounts of money (i.e. without having the luxury of doing this!)
Q9.What are some the current trends you see in the industry?
Sharing and Experiences are a hugely growing trend that sees no signs of stopping. With us it’s food, but this includes other markets as well: car sharing, accommodation, tools, etc. It’s a pattern we’re very excited to see growing
Q10. There are definitely a lot of companies similar to Grub Club floating around right now. What are you doing that differentiates you?
We support all our stakeholders in a collaborative way. We provide support to chefs that other platforms don’t do. This creates a platform for experiences that are unique to us and portray true passion from talented people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to do it, were it not for our support
Q11.Where do you see Grub Club in five years?
Within the next 5 years, we will have grown outside the UK, becoming a global platform for social dining experiences. 5 years from now, next time you travel, you can log on to Grub Club wherever you travel, and join a local dinner with interesting people, enabling you to gain an insight into the people, food, culture and spaces of the place. This will be a fun and delicious way to engage with people around the world, breaking down the traditional barriers of travellers staying amongst themselves in their silos, as is so common nowadays.
By introducing the social, communal dining aspect, we are able to work alongside not only fledgling chefs but also help existing restaurants fulfil underused inventory, by giving them the tools to add a social dimension to their existing offering.
We are disrupting the dining out market, while partnering with restaurants rather than fighting against them: as long as you are able to provide great food and a communal dining experience, we can work together, so we look to amplify the offering, by tapping into the adventurous, engaged mindset of millennials who are hungry for experiences and no longer interested in accumulating possessions which do not give them any sense of satisfaction in life.
Q12.If you had a chance to go back, what would you want to do differently?
I feel like the mistakes we made were hugely beneficial for us in our journey, to help us learn and perfect what we do. So I wouldn’t take anything back, because I believe it’s important to make mistakes and learn from them constructively!
Q13.Any advice for startups trying to make it big or join the On-Demand space?
Be persistent and confident in what you do. Be generous to others and give more than you take. In the long term, this karma genuinely pays back in ways you would never expect. Be open minded, take on board – and be grateful for – feedback and criticism. See everything as a learning opportunity and not as a set-back. It’s part of the journey.
It’s a long and tough journey and it does require you to make huge sacrifices. So enjoy the journey for everything is has to offer, with the highs and lows. DOn’t just have 1 goal in mind, you should actually enjoy every step of the way and instill your passion in everything you do, rather than just focusing on an imaginary outcome which may or may not happen. It keeps the passion alive and means you can enjoy everything you do!