“Food Trucks Near Me” is a website that allows users to find food trucks’ locations and menus via computer or smartphone.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Thomas’ regarding his start-up “Food Trucks Near Me”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Food Trucks Near Me” is all about?
Food Trucks Near Me is a website that allows users to find food trucks’ locations and menus via computer or smartphone.
It is currently deployed in St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.
2. When has “Food Trucks Near Me” been founded? And what stage is “Food Trucks Near Me” currently at?
It is roughly 40 days old and is early-stage.
3. What is “Food Trucks Near Me” ’s business model and how does it work?
The company offers pages for each city.
Within these pages, currently ads are displayed for revenue generation, and we are tweaking a ‘premium truck’ program where priority listings can be purchased for a fee.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
It’s just me However, I own two other companies and the teams at those have provided valuable input.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
I like this quote, used with permission, that has not yet been published:
“Food Trucks Near Me understands how important it is to give the user the information they want when they land on the site,” said Rasheed Sulaiman, Creative Director at St. Louis-based Lockerdome.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Food Trucks Near Me” achieved so far?
We started just in St. Louis, and have deployed to roughly a city per week. Traffic and engagement been increasing steadily!
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Food Trucks Near Me”’s competitive advantage over them?
There are a myriad of food truck websites, but we have found popularity in medium-sized markets with 30-50 trucks that have not been addressed by other companies.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I operate on the principle of rapid iteration rather than grand releases, so the project idea and implementation morphed based on what was a viable product.
One issue was server-side caching of tweets, which was delayed for future implementation, but now they render client-side using JQuery.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
In entrepreneurship, strive to get a minimum product to the market as quickly as possible.
Large projects without any previous traction can be demotivating and difficult to iterate effectively.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
With the trend for “eating locally,” food trucks have been a growing market.
However, they move around a lot, so finding them is difficult! I address a simple difficulty, and that has made the site popular.
11. If “Food Trucks Near Me” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
I’m working on expanding the codebase and idea for the site into other areas — stay tuned!
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Food Trucks Near Me” based on?
I am the type of person that is always working on a dozen various side projects.It’s the engineer in me.
I went to find a food truck for lunch one day, and it was harder than it needed to be, so I built a simple solution to that straightforward need.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
While not immediately obvious, I learned a lot about CRM.
As an Analyst for Cultivation Capital, I was exposed to a local St. Louis startup called Systematic Revenue.
They provide powerful marketing automation software, and I was able to fully leverage their software suite within a couple weeks of its public launch.
In fact, I adopted their software so quickly that Food Trucks Near Me was one of the first companies to fully adopt and test the software “in the wild” on a large scale.
A lot is going on behind the scenes at Food Trucks Near Me to drive return traffic!
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Figuring out what to do when I graduate from college! I’m a senior at Washington University in St. Louis with majors in Systems Engineering and Physics.
I hope to find a more long-term project that is profitable and exciting enough to sustain me.
Hopefully that is one of the current companies I am working on!
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Users can find their favorite food trucks for food!
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
I attracted users initially through many ways.
I already mentioned Systematic Revenue.
I leveraged their system to email previous contacts about the system.
I used the full technology to create reactive follow-up emails based on the cities users interacted with.
I attracted local media attention, which drove traffic of my first target audience – St. Louis Foodies.
Finally, I leveraged many types of social media.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
My current customers are foodies in the cities of St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
I hope to continue adding cities and expanding my target customers geographically.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Social media has been a huge factor.
Each city on the site has a corresponding Twitter account and corresponding Facebook account that shares updates from all of the city’s food trucks.
That has helped to generate repeat visitors, but also creates new leads based on interactions and buzz!
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
I receive emails all the time from users!
They seem to love the system because it addresses a common difficulty.
Being contacted by new food truck owners, current trucks that are hiring, media sources seeking leads, and such excite me the most because it means that Food Trucks Near Me is establishing itself as a core resource in these cities.
20. How are you going to scale?
We will continue adding new cities, at a rate of about one per week.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
I’m working on a map of all of the food trucks – stay tuned for that!
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
There are no plans to internationalize with the food truck portion at the moment.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Moving into larger cities like the hundreds of trucks in LA requires infrastructure improvements to the system, so we will continue adding mid-sized cities at the moment.
However, based on demand, we’ll see how far we can push this website, both in user size and sophistication of code!
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
I am not actively recruiting, but if any technical people are inspired and wish to work on a server-side caching database with a maps front end in exchange for significant equity, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
I’m not actively seeking any such opportunities, but if anybody is particularly inspired, they are welcome to contact me at email@example.com and we can discuss options!
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Ship the minimum, not the best.
You can spend a year developing what you perceive to be the perfect problem, or you can get something minimum on the market in two months, then have ten great months to build on feedback, data, and motivational publicity to create a much better and more popular product in the same amount of time.