The CEO of the growing food delivery service Foodler explains how changing your definition of progress can make or break a brand.
It’s hard to imagine a world without online food delivery. There’s no shortage of brands competing to be the third party app bringing you your next meal—GrubHub, Postmates and even Uber have all launched food delivery services that connect consumers with their favorite restaurants. But a decade ago, these types of brands and services hadn’t made a name for themselves yet.
Back in 2004, tech expert Christian Dumontet saw that glaring disconnect between consumers and restaurants as an opportunity. At the time, restaurants and delivery services were strictly filling orders by zip code. But Dumontet found a way to expand their reach by creating a unique algorithm taking speed of delivery times and expansion of restaurant access into account in order to bring food to people in areas where delivery wasn’t normally accessible. He called his idea for a better delivery service Foodler.
Less than eight months after that initial lightbulb went off, CEO Dumontet and his co-founders had launched the first version of Foodler. With its one-of-a-kind rewards program and ability to deliver ratings food recommendations down to the ingredient level, they knew they needed to get their company up and running sooner rather than later.
“The best thing entrepreneurs can do is ditch planning for doing. I see it happen all the time—people overthink their ‘go to market’ strategy without actually getting their business started,” said Dumontet. “The thing is, when you actually go to market, there’s no telling how the industry is going to react. You can’t predict or plan the exact way a business is going to evolve. But what you can do is put a strong plan that you’re passionate about in motion, and then be willing to adjust depending on market forces and consumer reactions. That’s the only way progress will ever be made.”
To say Foodler has made progress as a brand would be an understatement. What started as a simple idea is now a leading online food delivery service with more than half a million active users and 100 employees across the country. And Foodler isn’t just one of the many brands competing in the increasingly crowded marketplace—the brand differentiates itself in a variety of ways.
The first is its point system, that allows users to earn point for every order submitted. Those points can be used as FoodlerBucks, which reduces the price of future orders. The brand also allows its customers to rate their meals all the way down to the ingredients a restaurant uses. Those ratings then become part of a user’s profile, ensuring that they’re future restaurant and order recommendations are in line with their specific tastes.
Those points of differentiation weren’t a part of Foodler’s original model. But as the industry caught on among consumers and more brands started throwing their hats into the ring, the Dumontet made sure that Foodler evolved right along with it.
“My job today is completely different than it was even five years ago, and I have no clue what it will look like down the line. That’s the nature of being an entrepreneur—you need to be willing to reinvent yourself constantly. You can’t be successful if you’re clinging to the old way of doing things,” said Dumontet. “I initially started out writing software, and it used to feel like I wasn’t working if I wasn’t writing code. But in order to keep growing Foodler, I needed to shift my priorities to become more management focused. Sometimes in order to be a leader you need to change your perception of what progress is.”
There’s no doubt that Foodler and Dumontet are leading forces in the ever-growing online food delivery industry. Dumontet was even named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year™ 2016 award finalist. And as he continues to work with his team to grow the Foodler brand across the country, Dumontet is more committed than ever to have Foodler be the most innovative and advanced brand in the $70 billion takeout industry.
“Staying ahead of the curve in the online food delivery industry is second nature to us—we live and breathe this business. There isn’t a day that goes by where we aren’t talking to experts or even our customers to get feedback and insight into what the next big trend is going to be,” said Dumontet. “But our commitment to outpacing the competition doesn’t end there. We’re constantly innovating, which allows Foodler to be one of the key players that’s driving the industry forward. We aren’t looking to strictly follow trends—we want to make them.”