June 7, 2023

Episode 288: Mike Jacobs, Founder & CEO of KitchData

A serial entrepreneur, Mike Jacobs excels at inventing new technologies for the restaurant sector. Through founding Tap.in2, Ordermark, Nextbite, and Team Kitchens he honed his expertise in combining high-tech with experiential marketing for food, sports, and entertainment brands to create new business modalities. He brings to KDS a commitment to innovation and fostering a positive company culture, accompanied by skills in product development and marketing. Mike enjoys getting in the trenches, particularly digging into KDS’ underlying data science. Indeed, his background with the FBI gives him a unique vantage point on data-driven tech: as a counterintelligence analyst, he was responsible for a task force that worked with the U.S. DoD & Intelligence Community. For this service, he was nominated for the Director of National Intelligence’s National Counterintelligence Award. Mike is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley.

Julian:Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast.Today we have Mike Jacobs, founder and CEO of KitchData. KitchData offersmedium and enterprise restaurants, high quality virtual brands that are easy toserve. Mike, it's so exciting to, to jump on the show and chat with you. Wewere discussing some stuff around the landscape of ecosystem of, of, startupsand really excited to dive into what you're doing and what strategies you'redeploying, growing your company and, and what's pretty, exciting andinteresting about how.

Brands likerestaurants are really starting to, transition and adopt this kind of virtualworld and starting to connect. Seeing that, I think everyone craves from aconsumer standpoint, a really connected brand experience, regardless of, ofwhat it is. It's no longer closed or, social media.

It's, it'severything now. But before we get into all that good stuff, what were you doingbefore you started the company?  

Mike:So, actually before I started this company, I had founded two other food techstartups and after the exited from the second one, I had the opportunity to in2020 launch.

Dodger Dog deliveryin Los Angeles. So, so we opened up a little second generation restaurant onSunset Boulevard and started serving Dodger dogs in for the short season. AndI'll tell you the truth, it was a lot harder to do that then to launch a. Likea food tech startup that that had thousands of customers and hundreds andhundreds of employees.

Right. So it'shardest work ever done I ever did in my life, was managing that restaurant andjumping in on a line on, yeah. During the Dodgers championship season in in theplayoffs, when. We turned the printer on for our service for dinner, and it wassort of like an episode of I Love Lucy.

The really tickets.The tickets would come out and there was no stopping the tickets and we wereall staring like, is it gonna, is it gonna stop? And it never stopped. Itactually, the roll would end. Yeah. And then we put a new roll of pa thermalpaper in for the printer and we do two, 300 orders in an hour or two.

Right? So, Really,really hard business. And yeah, to anybody that that works on that side of therestaurant industry I have to tip my hat because Yeah. It, it, it's reallyhard. It's, it's rewarding. It's fulfilling. But, yeah, I don't think there'sa, a, a job that's as hard as that in Yeah.

The world,especially during a pandemic. Right.  

Julian:So, yeah. How, how would, how would you say, companies that, or, restaurants, how,how would, how would they go and like, overcome that hurdle of like highvelocity, high volume? Obviously we see like, in and out. It's got thisoperational model.

We think aboutMcDonald's in its early years. I just watched the founder movie, which reallykind of illuminated what, what their innovation was. But how do you overcomethat when like human capital and, and time and all this stuff is, is fairlylimited without, at some point you can't. Yeah,

Mike:right, right.

So in our case itwas 2020 covid. We couldn't hire new people randomly to ramp up just for theplayoffs. Right. Cuz of all the regulations, et cetera. Yeah. Actually kind ofhard to do. And at some point we just had Worst days are the best dayssales-wise which is kind of both one and the same.

Yeah. Yeah. We havea line of 50 Postmates couriers waiting for. A bag of of Dodger dogs. Just cuzthere were like three cooks in the kitchen. Yeah. There's no more space. Like,you literally don't have space for another cook safely. Yeah. And then I wasrunning Expo with one other person getting stuff out.

Like we had ahotline of Cold Line and then two people running expo. And I was it's duringCovid so I was the one that was typically handing the backs to the Postmatescouriers cuz I wasn't going to let someone. Do that and not do it myself.Right? Yeah. Yeah. It's hardest day.

Hardest day in mymy life was work-wise was the day before, like, Basically game six in the WorldSeries when they, when they, when they won and we had like nearly 400 ordersand we all, we are, we're all like, feeling like we're gonna have a heartattack.  

Julian:Oh my goodness. Look, and, and just, yeah.

Obviously it's,also a problem, like a, like a good problem to have right? Is like that highvelocity of orders. But how do. What did you do? Well, obviously a Dodger dog,you kind of already created this, this system to where people are gonna orderyou kind of created this confined experience, which totally makes sense.

But for othercompanies or other restaurants out there, how do they, create that traction,and, and, and how are they doing it now?

Mike:Mm-hmm. Well, I, I think you know, what you touched upon in the introductionhere is that the restaurant world is becoming virtual, right? Yeah. And digitaland.

In the kind oftypical tech space, e-commerce back in the early days of eBay and PayPal, theyliterally paid for college basically creating multiple accounts on on eBay andAmazon, et cetera. Like one for books, one for sports cards, one for likecollectibles, like watches, on and on and on.

And each accountdid something a little bit different and. Ultimately it's all me. Just as likea 18 year olds like hustling, trying to, trying to make some money. But butultimately it worked a lot better when the consumers knew what to expect fromthe account. And yeah, you find that restaurants are doing the same thing now.

So yeah, over thecourse of the past couple months the. Virtual restaurant industry has grownexponentially. There's some news about Uber shutting down. Yeah. Like 5,000rans, but that was basically a little more than 10% of them that just weren'tdoing anything new or unique. And yeah it's easy to forget that this is alsohospitality.

And if you don'tcreate a brand that puts a smile on someone's face where they connect with it,where you know it evokes an emotion from them. Yeah, the brand shouldn't exist.Right? Yeah. That's number one. Cuz it's even in the term virtual brand, it'sstill a brand and a lot of the operators forgot about that in the rush to justget more screen space in.

Yeah. Congregatorslike DoorDash and Be Eats and and rightfully so, they shut down a lot of thebrands that weren't really brand. Right. And that's number one. Number two, youmentioned the founder. What what they did really well in the early days ofMcDonald's was they created a method. Yeah. For and I hate to use the word easycuz it's not easy, but for easily replicating the same burger in New York asthey do in la.

And if you're goingto create a food brand, that that component has to be, Key to your to yourplans. Right? And to date, there haven't been a lot of the virtual brandcompanies that's even considered that right. They'll create a recipe, etcetera, but they don't really operate a supply chain you know very well becauseYeah.

So a lot of people,supply chain isn't a sexy business. But we all saw also during Covid that. You,it's a very important business. Yeah. If the supply chain doesn't work, nothinghappens, right? Yeah. I don't know about you, but there are times where wedidn't even have food in the grocery stores in Los Angeles.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. No, I, I remember those times and it, it, it's so fascinating. Justthink, also thinking about restaurants and, and remind me, is it mainly smallrestaurants, medium restaurant. Describe the, the profile of customers that youare currently serving.  

Mike:So currently we're working with a lot of mid-market restaurants that have maybelike five to 25 locations.

Yeah. Yeah. And wehelp them on the supply chain side. We have a, a method for improving the,basically the cost of everything that they're purchasing. Yeah. Getting them abe a better deal with our economies of scale. We also have a method for, withsome equipment and some policies, procedures for in, in basically installing anew virtual brand machine that, yeah.

Of which we're inprocess of launching some pretty cool virtual brands with, with some greatpartners who have CPG companies with excellent products, et cetera. And we'llbe able to. Announce some of those hopefully in the next 30 to 60 days. But andthey're very excited, but obviously you don't announce them before, beforethere's a deal.

Yeah. So we haveto, so we have to get to the deal and and with those, we're launching theminitially with some of the enterprise players in Yeah. The restaurantspace.  

Julian:Yeah. And, and what made you focus and what inspired you to focus on these typeof restaurants? I'm sure there's a, there's the particular profile, I'm sureindividuals who've grown restaurants before.

Mm-hmm. They maybehave multiple locations and they're, they're fairly good at doing thatcomponent growing restaurants, but you know, what in particular inspired you tostart helping them essentially connect better or more in a more modernexperience with their consumers?  

Mike:Well, that part was a little bit of trial and, and not really error, but trial.Yeah. And we, we've worked with small, medium and large businesses. Right now,we have the ability to help medium and large businesses. Yeah. Moresubstantially, right? Yeah. So, the small businesses, with some of the otherprojects that we've done, ultimately there's a cost associated with, with someof the equipment that.

That they need topurchase, et cetera. It's it's just not the best fit for them. Sure. And then,so, and then also from the supply chain perspective, you also need to work withmm-hmm. Clients that that the distributors yeah. Are comfortable spending timeand resources on initially.

So, yeah. Soultimately it has to be sort of like a top down approach where we're workingwith the medium and large. Clients. And then as we scale we'll will reactivateour our, our as small business yeah, outreach, which was actually quitesuccessful. We launched a couple hundred locations across the country in.

Little less than ayear, once we, once we launch.  

Julian:Yeah. So it's, it's awesome. Thinking about tackling even just a medium to, toeven some enterprise restaurant chains and thinking about, I was talking to mymy business partner and we were, I was traveling, I can't remember what state Iwas in, but it was hard to find the right food that I wanted.

Ended up going tosomething I, I just knew. And I was talking to 'em about the value of justhaving, that consistent experience in other locations. It helps people kind ofstill connect, still be able to feel that they've, that they can kind of, eatand, and feel satiated to have this experience.

But, traveling, goto different places. How are brands doing that? Before, in, in, in, in the waythat they were being consistent outside of their menu and experienceinternally, like connecting with it on a digital. I guess in a digital space,how do you do it?  

Mike:Right. So, and that's a great question. Some of the big players do it right allthe time. Like if you go to Cloud kitchens in LA you'll see that there'scompanies like Chick-fil-A in there, right? Yeah. And you'll see that they'vebeen able to replicate a Chick-fil-A kitchen in, in the. Cloud kitchen, and andit could, could even be relatively close to just a brick and mortar store.

But but the reasonwhy they expanded their digital footprint in that location was to fillcapacity. So you'll hear a lot of people in the space talk about excesscapacity. That's a company that actually doesn't have enough capacity becausethey'll have a. The two QSRs that really stand out there are in this area areChick-fil-A and, and in and out, where you'll have a line of cars around theblock waiting for the drive through, so, yeah.

So when they launcha new location and put it on the digital channels it does extremely well.Right, right, right. So they've already built a brand. They already know whatthe consumer demand is. They already have power levels and they already knowhow to staff everything. Yeah. And and they have a great like learningmanagement system and human capital like development system where Yeah.

Where the digitalends up being an extension of everything else. Yeah. And what we've seen inthis industry, especially in the past couple years, while while these virtualconcepts have scaled from maybe around a hundred, 200 locations nationwide,when I came up with a concept that later became called next fight is mm-hmm.

Up to like 40, 50,60,000 location. Yeah. Now is a lot of these players. Only created a digitalpresence. Yeah. Right.  


Mike:And unfortunately, that's a, a hollow experience. It doesn't, like if you talkto some of the mom and pop operators, they'll, they'll say that there's no soulto it. And what they mean from like a tactile experience, what they're feelingis that is that, They don't understand the brands that's been created beneaththat digital experience and they don't see it.

And Yeah. And a lotof those brands are really just, it's really just filling up screen space whichultimately, It is the reason, in my opinion, why Uber and DoorDash removed agood percentage of these Yeah. Brands from their properties because, they'reultimately about creating a great experience as well.

Yeah. And all ofthe brands on their platform really have to mean something.  

Julian:Yeah. And, and thinking about, when you create that brand or that experience,where, where do you focus on, do you focus on, for restaurants in particular,is it a type of food? Is it a type of mantra? What in particular?

When you get tothat medium size level, do you see a lot of brands focusing on, is it somethingthat they're receiving from their consumer? How are they kind of gathering the,the right information to build that right brand? Because, I think we've seentime and time again, brands come out and just miss and, and I'm thinking aboutlike, just like completely, yeah, completely mis associated with their brandand image.

And sometimes itworks because it's so off, but a lot of times, it, it, it doesn't work at all.What, what are they gathering with signals are the gathering to create thatbrand experience.  

Mike:Yeah, so there's a, there's a lot of good successes and so I'll focus on acouple of those that you know, one of them that I like is a company called BigChicken with Shaq.

Yeah. So, right.So, but he doesn't, he calls it Big Chicken. He created a brand. He worked,they worked really hard, created a brand and experience. There's a brick andmortar and. A great menu. The, the food's good too, and but you don't have tobe an NBA fan or a Shaq fan. Yeah. To see a big chicken and say, oh, I couldget a good chicken sandwich here.

Let me try it. Yeah.But they'll still, but they'll still have a like a poster of Shaq somewhereout. Yeah. Like outside of the of the restaurant. Not even in it like Like theone that's closest to my house in in Hollywood is they actually, last time Iwas there, they had a shack poster on the bus stop in front of the QSR in frontof the front of the restaurant.

It was supercreative. Yeah. And a little bit of a tongue in cheek and Yeah. The irreverencethere doesn't get lost on the people who are like NBA or Shaq fans. Right.Yeah. So,  

Julian: Imean, it's a humor. Yeah, it, it works because it offer, I mean, correct me ifI'm wrong, it offers some kind of like, legitimacy, right?

If somebody who hastheir own brand endorses it, then it creates this connection. It's almost likethere's, there's more at stake for this not to be a good experience.  

Mike:Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Another earlier example also in basketball was BlazePizza. Well, LeBron sold LeBron, yeah. Sold a steak for the, I believe it wasstill very successful, scaled very quickly.

And, and it's stilla, a great brand with or without him, right? Yeah, yeah. Because, because theybuilt a foundation and the consumers know what to expect. Yeah. And just likeyou are saying, and if you don't know what to expect from, from our brand,there's no reason really for it to be there.

Julian:Yeah. What are some recent, maybe techno technological developments oroperational developments that are now allowing these companies to get offplatforms like Door that aggregate platforms that kind of. Put them againstother other restaurants similar or like, or even just in, in this big pool.

Versus now it seemslike it's almost easier to find them on Google. It's almost easier to orderfrom them online or go and understand their experience. Is this a technologythat's been, is this a standard of the industry pushing in this direction? Allthe above. What in particular kind of was a catalyst to start moving a moremodern direction and, and start taking some of that consumer to consumerismback?

Mike:Well, I, I think it's actually the the economy souring to tell you the truth.Mm-hmm. Right? Yeah. So, so people are more price sensitive now than they werea couple years ago. So if they know that the pizza that they're ordering is twoor $3 cheaper, Ordering it from Yeah. The company's website.

Julian: Ijust had a conversation. Yeah. I just had a conversation with my partner. Sucha, such a triggering moment cuz we're like, ah, well they're in the thieves.And then obviously trying to get straight connected. Anyways, continue.  

Mike:Yeah, no, exactly. That's, that's the reason why consumers love the experienceof DoorDash and Uber Eats and being able to browse and explore and learn what'saround them.

But ultimately,Whenever you add another party in, it's, it has to be more expensive. And yeah.And I'm a big fan of of Uber and DoorDash. I, I think they do a great job, butthe consumers themselves are, they're just more price sensitive now. Yeah. So,so you'll see that the white labels at restaurants operate or even Googleordering, which is pretty cool actually.

Yeah, we've reallydone some good, good work there in the past year or two. That. That can workand yeah, ultimately Google can sit there as a number three player in the spaceif they felt like it. Yeah. Quietly and not spend many resources on it. Yeah.And do a great job for the restaurant.

Julian:What, what would you do if you were a company like DoorDash or Uber? I mean,obviously there's a, there's gonna be a growing frustration with having to payan additional cost just for the experience if, and, and it might even affectthe brands that are on the platform a little bit more, being that people arenot choosing them because of that increased cost association.

I mean, what wouldyou do if you were a brand like that? How would you shift your focus to thenthink about. This more as a, a, I guess more as a megaphone for restaurantsversus, a way to, to transact quickly.  

Mike:Yeah. I was with one of the founders of DoorDash last year actually.

Yeah. They didn't,I don't think they understood why they won LA in Chicago, et cetera. So in LAthere was a company that I founded with a couple people here. Called OrderMark, which later became Next Bite. Yeah. And then in Chicago there was acompany called Cali, which did for about, did nearly the same thing, right.

Where mm-hmm. Wewere able to onboard every restaurant in a geography that took online orderingand delivery seriously to DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, Postmates, yeah. Etcetera. Right. So we would onboard them to about seven or eight differentplatforms. And and ultimately like there was one or two months where where Isigned the paperwork for about 450 restaurants to go onto DoorDash.

Yeah. And in laright? Just in la yeah. And the rate that the restaurants were paying forDoorDash was about 15%. The rate that the restaurants were paying for the otherplayers in the space was about 25 to 30% already. Wow. So when I would go tothe restaurants later to just say hi, et cetera you better believe there was alittle DoorDash decal Yeah.

In their window anda little order on DoorDash card cuz DoorDash would send the discount cards andthe other companies weren't there. When we started, DoorDash was at about 4.5,4.7% of the LA market. And. They're much, much, much more than that. Yeah. Atthe moment, right? Yeah. So right now we have another kind of inflection pointfor those players in the industry.

The winner is goingto be the one that's most affordable for restaurants.  


Mike:And, and it's, it's hard, it's a hard decision to make. Like if you ask the,the executive team from DoorDash or Uber, like. Like from strategically, right?So mm-hmm. They know that if they wanna win, they have to, in the restaurantspace, they're going to have to be the most affordable one.

Cuz they definitelyknow that as well. Right? Yeah. And because what we did in La Cali did inChicago with Sterling over there, and there were a couple other players in thespace as well. Like, it's a check made in New York. Et cetera. Yeah. Andultimately everybody did the same thing. Yeah. And the results were the sameeverywhere.

Yeah. So, so allthe executive teams know this, but sometimes they could be okay being numbertwo in the market.

Julian:Sure, sure. Yeah.  

Mike:Yeah. So it just depends at this point where they want to go.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. Well said. And shifting focus, obviously to, to catch data. What'sbeen exciting about the traction you've seen up to this point, and what inparticular are you excited about in terms of the next milestone you're lookingto achieve with the company?

Mike:So we just have some really exciting brands with amazing partners. Like we'rein proposal to launch a brand with what's essentially the number one mediacompany in the. In the United States with their talent and one of the largestrestaurant groups in the United States. And I couldn't be more excited andproud for everybody that's involved as well as just looking forward for theexperience that the gentleman from that company can create for our enterprisepartner.

Yeah. And and if,if you want, we can circle back in about a month and I'll be able to. Say whoit is, but it's, it's just, to me, it's the coolest thing ever. And Yeah. AndI've been a fan of, of those gentlemen and the and the entity, they work, theywork with basically my entire life and yeah.

Uh Right. So, it'salmost like being a kid in the candy store at that point.  

Julian:Yeah. And in thinking about whether it's external, internal, what do you viewas some of the biggest risks that the company faces today?  

Mike:Well, the economy's a risk, right? So, sure. When at this point, we're assumingthere's no funding money at all, ever.

Sure, sure. Right.And we're operating in a cash flow positive manner because we have to. Yeah.And, and that does slow growth a little bit. Right. But what, what I've found,and a lot of other founders have found is that the real winners in t and in.And these spaces end up being kind of the turtles.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.That, that go just slow, slow, slow. Yeah. And, and then eventually you look upand and somehow that, that turtles has yeah. A very big business five, 10 yearslater. The people who end up failing in this type of economy They haven'tadapted and yeah. The type of business acumen that's necessary right now ismuch different.

Like, like, yeah.You have to have a mu much stronger business acumen. You can't commit toanything that's extraneous, that doesn't that doesn't generate positive returnsfor you and your team in the near term. Yeah. Yeah. But you still have to havea long-term vision and plan, and that's what makes it really hard.

And the, the growthat all cost mentality is, is gone. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And, and then and it,it'll come back at some point, but it might take a few years and Yeah. I thinkwhat we'll find is a lot of the biggest companies 10 years from now will havebeen foreign as a startup. Yeah.

About now are will,I've survived. And changed substantially because of the economy right now.  

Julian:Yeah, I, I agree with many things you said in, in, in particular like thebusiness acumen piece because, you see a lot more mature younger companies, andI'm talking about the way they operate, how they structure, even like, theircultural values, their onboarding process.

It's like,Everything is under a microscope to be able to, be productive and efficient.That's why procurement companies are so valuable now, procurement tech,because, everyone's thinking about where they're spending their dollars andit's cool to see. I mean, I, I'm sure as a founder yourself, you're like, it'sreally exciting to see these really sophisticated, well operated businesses andand how they're able to, deploy tactics or strategies that.

That you, it isjust unseen and, and are really around incentives. Cuz like, if you're notmaking everybody happy, unfortunately, you know all your stakeholders Yeah. Youyou can't grow you, you can't grow. You're gonna have a lot of resistance.  

Mike:Yeah. No, and I agree about the procurement tech and it's, it's really just bibusiness in general, even in the startup spaces has really evolved at thispoint to focus on the bottom line.

Yeah. As. Is thekey indicator for success. And, and there's a reason, and the restaurantindustry is an old, old school business has always been that way. You couldnever launch a successful restaurant. Avoiding paying yeah. Great detail to thebottom line. And the reason being is for every dollar in efficiency you find onthe bottom line is worth 10 to $20, depending on restaurant in top line sales.

Yeah. So if you're,As a business spending, let's say 30% more for your cost of goods sold thanyour enterprise, for instance, clients in this economy, the chance of you beingsuccessful is, is bleak. Yeah. Yeah, I'd agree with that. So the first thing,yeah. So the first thing you have to do is find a company like KitchData thatcan help help you fix that.

Yeah. It's the, theprac that we have that. That, that we're just launching now, that accomplishesthat for the mid-market chains took two years to develop. It was much harderthan building my la my last company's tech product that and getting it to airand getting it to over a thousand locations.

Yeah, I'd say ittook just as much time to create it and launch the first eight locations as itdid for the other one to create it. Wow. And launch well over a thousandlocations took more time, more resources, but ultimately I think it's in thiseconomy just as valuable as the other one was. Yeah.

Back in the daywhere top line from online ordering was key because everybody was just provingthat it could generate revenue and it was a future revenue bucket, and even thebottom line wasn't such a big deal when it was, let's say five to 10% of arestaurant's revenue. It was more just. We better create this presence.

When it becomes agreater percentage of our revenue, we have it. And then we'll work on thebottom line later because it's only 5%. Yeah. So that's the, that's the otherside of the Coin from a question you asked him a while ago about, yeah. AboutGrubHub and DoorDash.  

Julian:Uber Eats, right. So, yeah. Yeah. And what, and what was, I guess the morechallenging bit about this, product in particular?

Was it thetechnology? Was it, as, thinking about the variables that you have to consider,one in particular made it a little bit more of a, of a, or even, I guess not aslower build, but one that was, had a lot of intention. Seems like that waskind of a, a big theme for what you were doing.

Yeah. What was thecause of that?  

Mike:So, When I started, I didn't, I didn't think about it this way, but when youlisten to Jeff Bezos's interviews about why he picked book skews for for theirearly days of Amazon, it's because it was the hardest thing to do. Yeah. Sothis is. I would, I would disagree with that and say look at a broad linedistributor's SKUs and see how many SKUs they have.

And when you seethe hundredth Parmesan cheese skew, you'll realize that the food industry mightbe a little more complex. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. So, so it's very difficultto, to get that right. And then you have an old school businesses that are.That have to be super risk adverse because if they make a mistake with theirpurchasing even if they're a 50 plus year old restaurant, they could be out ofbusiness within two months.

Yeah, yeah. Right.So the worst thing they can ever do is, is launch some sort of program fortheir purchasing that locks them in to, Rates that are too high for that right,for that, right. So if they spend a little bit extra money like if, if theirmargins are let's say five, 7% and everything ends up costing 5% more, they'reliterally putting themselves out of business.

Yeah, yeah. Right.So very, very difficult just from the business perspective, but also from theoperations and the technology perspectives because everything has to be perfectand it. Couldn't be more complicated.  

Julian:Yeah, yeah. No, I, I can definitely see the, the amount of investment needingto just like, not only capture the amount of data, categorize it, but also to,to figure out, ways to deliver value and I'm sure give your consumers almostimmediate results.

I, I don't know ifyou've read like the hundred million offers, like a really popular book rightnow, and but a really cool part of their philosophy, the authors, is that. The,the ability to deliver results in two weeks and, and how much stronger that is.But a lot of the work to do that is done on, on the backend when you'redeveloping the product, answering the question two years ahead of time.

Mike:Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And anytime I've tried to stuff where we didn'tdeliver within a month forget about two weeks, but within a month it justdoesn't work out the way you would expect. Even if, even if you can launchsomething in two weeks and it should work if it doesn't work. For whateverreason, even if it's not your fault, you, you typically don't have another, asecond chance of business.

Yeah. Right? Yeah.You have to, you have to find a new partner, right? So, right, right. It's veryrare where someone will give you another chance, even as a startup, and even ifit was a third party that caused whatever staff who it is, it really doesn'tmatter. People move forward. Right.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. I love this next section I call my founder faq. So I'm gonna hityou with some rapid fire questions and we'll see where we go. Does that soundokay? Sure. All right, let's do it. I always like to open it up with this one.What's particularly hard about your job day-to-day?  

Mike: Iwould say, I love this, but most people would hate it.

Every singlemeeting, every single thing that I'm doing day-to-day is completely differentand. It's very hard to draw the line between all of them and Yeah. Point itnorth, right? If if you're managing 10 different functions in, in 20 differentways and pointing the, the ship north, that's the hardest part.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And, thinking about, what you spend your time on, I, I talk, a lotabout founders talk a lot about just what they would like to prioritize on.What's something that. You spend a lot of time on that you would like todecrease the amount of time you spend on it and something that you spend littleon that you would like to spend more on.

Mike:So, I don't think I spend enough time on business development. Right? Yeah. So,it's always the number one job of any founder is business development, no matterwhat you call it. It could be fundraising, it could be it could be sales, itcould be partnerships, right? So that's that type of business development.

Should and is beand Allies is the number one project now. Yeah. Lately I've been spending moretime on specific operations and hopefully at some point we'll get to thejuncture where I can hire someone to replace me, whereas interviewing them,that'll be great and they'll do a much better job than I will.

You never reallywant the founder type guys doing very specific things no matter what. What thefounders say is we're usually nowhere near as good at that as people who are,who are more detailed and focused, oriented. Yeah. And we tend to be moretheorist in general and and okay with that, it's hard for us, but but any goodfounder can step in in the line and it doesn't matter what you're doing, ifyou're.

Grilling hotdogare. Yeah. Uh uh, which, which I was literally doing a couple years ago. Orbefore that changing the restaurant industry yeah. Make it really easy foreveryone's activated online business which was the goal for Order Mark and andwhat we're doing here, which is making it really easy for anybody to open asecond online business.

Right? Yeah. Withtalking with our new products and. Technologies that we're leveraging for forour process for virtual grants, right? So it's that's just really cool. Andwhat I've spent the least amount of time on now, which I should spend more timeon since we're still early stages, is on the vision area.

But with the realwork that needs to get done day to day it's kind of hard to Yeah. Justifytaking some time off to yeah, to wax poetic. Right. Yeah. Yeah,  

Julian:yeah. I agree. So, yeah, one thing we didn't touch upon that was interestingabout your background is that you, you spent some time at the FBI and, and onething I, that really caught my attention obviously like that's superinteresting as a founder, anytime you hear that, but also, Thinking about data.

You, you mentionedsomething about data, when the pre-show notes, and I was so curious on howyour, what is your vantage point of data? What, what, what essentially did youtake away from that experience and, and how do you view data nowadays thatmaybe some people don't?  

Mike:Well, Thankfully I wasn't doing the data so much.

I was more overthere. There, there were some cases where it wasn't necessary, but But the, anydata that I had the, the main thing I learned is I don't know if you ever readanything like by sir Ko Doyle or anything like that? No, no. Nothing yet. No.Sherlock Columns or the Hardy Boys or Oh,

oh yes.

Things likethat.  

Julian:Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I have, I have it. Yeah.  

Mike:Yeah. So whatever you have in front of you data wise is never the finishedproduct. Yeah, there's a, a major difference between data and intelligence, andif you're trying to figure out what happened or what will happen you have to beable to take that information and and I, I like to call it like a snowballeffect and roll it down a hill and let it grow.

Yeah. And you canfigure out where everything's going pretty quickly, but, If you take everythingat face value you, you'll never get there.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I can see how it obviously helps in, in startup landin, in regards to, thinking about the direction of a product. I was justtalking to my business partner about this is we're, we're launching a newproduct and it seems like the, the closer you get to the idea and you start topick up these signals, or to have customer interviews start all these.

Little decisionsand, and you start to kind of create these little points, little milestones. Itdoes kind of finally start to roll downhill and, and start to make sensebecause, the narrative there, the stories there behind it. And I'm, and I'mcurious how, obviously, thinking about how you motivate team as a founder, alot of founders have a, have a struggle with that.

What is thenarrative or the cultural value? What is something that you kind of maintainthat helps you keep the team in, in the right trajectory?  

Mike:Well, for, for us, they're right. Like we're in the restaurant. Restaurant andhospitality industry. Yeah. And we're really focused, like we don't own any ofthe brands that we're working with.

It's all ourclients, but we're helping them create an experience. Yeah. And if, if thebrand can't evoke. An experience, like an emotional response, which ishopefully positive, right? Yeah, yeah. Then it's not ready. Yeah. And itdoesn't matter, like if you're if you're Mr. Beast or if you are some of thepeople that we're working with right now It's our, our one of my favoriteclients is is Rick Flair, who's yeah.

Right. So we, wehave a wing restaurant with them, and yeah. And we're just starting to marketit. I it has around 50 locations, right? So, yeah. But he has a real brand thatexists. It evokes a response. People smile and and then when they see the videoof Rick. Holding the wings screaming like, woo, it, it it really it gets a response.

And guess what?Late night people buy Woo Wings. Yeah. So it's a great late night brand. So ifthe restaurant the partner that we're working with it available between 10 andtwo, and if we're marketing it in the geography you, you don't, His results areamazing. Yeah. Sales wise, it's literally every dollar spent results inmultiples upon multiples of sales because it's a great brand.

People know what toexpect. And then and then as long as the food gets delivered in a manner yeah.Where it's, where it's good, but it should always happen. Then, it's then theexperience is fulfilled for the Yeah. For the customer and for us, we, we justhave to remember that we're in the hospitality industry and we have to create apositive response in the end result.

It's, it's the kindof, one of the most similar companies, I think, ironically is like an Airbnb,right? Yeah. So, yeah. Even though Brian and the team don't own or operate anyof the. Any of the rooms that are Yeah. On, on their site they have a methodand they have a system for delivering something that's consistently Yeah.

To the buyer'sexpectations. Yeah. And, and that's the number one thing that I think a lot ofthe a lot of the early companies in, in this virtual restaurant space reallydidn't. But put an emphasis on Yeah. As, as it was growing and as it wasscaling and everybody was trying to be open, they were trying to open 700locations a month, et cetera.

And in all honesty,that has never worked in the entire history of food and beverage. And it neverwill. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. Like, if McDonald's could open up 700 newlocations a month, they definitely would. Yeah. Right. So, and as woulddominoes, et cetera. But if they can't do it, I, there's re reason to believethat a startup will not be able to do that.

Julian:Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I know we're coming to the end of the show here and, and Ialways like to ask this question before we leave. What's what's a book or anindividual who impacted you a lot, anything that they've kind of, you know,whether it's early in your career or now left with you and then something youwould like to share.

Mike:Yeah. So, early in my career I was. I was basically a sociologist, right?Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So I was teaching sociology classes at the University ofArizona and professor there who just retired, his name was Al Ferguson, and Alran the sociology department there for decades.

And reallyinteresting fun guy, but also very smart. So, so some of this stuff that heworked on was more on the culture side in, in that he, he did culturalsociology. So, so when you're building a brand the most important thing thatyou could ever do is take the brand and.

Put and create, I,I know it sounds geeky, but define a set of variables. Yeah. And that are veryspecific in operations management, et cetera. They might call 'em KPIs and osYeah. But as far as this goes for the brand, you have to define what you'reexpecting to do. Mm-hmm. And why it's important.

Mm-hmm. And andthen you have to run it by people who aren't your friends who aren't. Anythinglike that. Yeah. And, and see if how you're defining your brand and what you'redoing resonates with them based on those variables. Right, right. So it, itcould be other people might call it like like some sort of customersatisfaction index, whatever.

Yeah. But from anearly stage startup, that's total ps Yeah. You as a founder, you kind of haveto just Create the principles, create the brand, and then and then you have togo and look people in the eye and see how they react. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And,and you have to be able to decode whether or not you've evoked an emotionalresponse if you've done something memorable.

Yeah. And if youhaven't done something memorable and, and you can't, you can't write down. Whatyou did that was memorable or why? Yeah, like when I'm talking to you, I knowthat the brick flair wings brand was memorable. Right? Right. Yeah. Yeah. And,and I saw that same look on, a good percentage of the people who were askedabout this brand's faces.

Right? Yeah. Andit's a look of surprise and, interest. Yeah. And you have to be able tounderstand that. So if you saw that online, you might give it a try. Andthere's a very specific demographic that that orders, it's almost exclusivelymale. And then you have a, a group that knows the rap song who are younger.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Andthen a group, and then a group that knows the him as a wrestler that Yeah. Are40 plus. So you have those two groups. Yeah. And, and they're both customersfor him. Right. It's fascinating. Yeah. So, yeah. And, and you see the sameresponse from both groups when you bring up the brand and you talk about it andwith a little bit of work, pretty much anybody could think about their brand inthat way.

Yeah. And test it.Not even customers, just people in the demographic. Yeah. And, and thenunderstand. What the likelihood is that that person might become one of yourcustomers. And I've seen companies blow through tens to hundreds of millions ofdollars and not do that once. Yeah. In this space, right?

Yeah. So, so justso to just take a step back and do the T l E R from that is the, the reallesson is is, is really just to create some sort of measurable. Result todetermine the potential impact Yeah. That your brand could have on the, notjust in general, but on the culture. Yeah. Right.

Yeah. And any brandthat you have operates within that culture. Yeah. So if, if you can't predictwho's going to care, you don't have a business.

Julian:Right. Right. Yeah. Mike, it's been such a pleasure chatting with you, not onlylearning about your early career, but also what you're working on at KitchData,how you view not only startups in the startup space, but an evolution of them.

It's been such apleasure going through this discussion with you, but last little bit is wherecan we find you and be a fan? Give us your LinkedIns, your Twitters. Where canwe be a fan of, of Mike Jacobs and, and what you're building?  

Mike:Yeah, just search for me on LinkedIn. I'm typically there. It's just MikeJacobs kds it should be pretty pretty available there.

And and then if youand my email, phone number, et cetera is on there, fairly open book. Yeah. Justdon't expect me to answer. I dunno why. So. But, but please reach out.  

Julian:Absolutely. Mike, it's been such a pleasure. I hope you enjoyed yourself andthank you again for being on Behind Company Lines today.

Mike:No, thank you, Julian.  

Julian:Of course.

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