HIGHLINE portfolio company Foodee is a platform that connect the best restaurants — the type that don’t deliver — to office desks. The majority (85%) of orders are lunch orders, but breakfast and after work orders are increasing.
“Foodee makes it easier for executive assistants to order corporate meals by offering easy payment, reliability, timeliness, reasonable cost and access to premium restaurants that don’t normally deliver,” The Vancouver Sun explained recently. “The restaurants, on the other hand, receive large corporate orders they can fill during off-peak times as well as account management, sales and logistics.”
Foodee was part of GrowLab in 2012, and has since expanded operations from Vancouver to Toronto (they currently have a team working out of HIGHLINE’s Toronto HQ on Queen Street). We recently connected with Foodee’s CEO Ryan Spong, and their Launch Manager – Brand Expander, Wayne Webb to ask about their expansion to Toronto, experience with HIGHLINE, the founders that inspire them, and advice for other entrepreneurs.
Q&A With Foodee CEO Ryan Spong, and Wayne Webb, Launch Manager – Brand Expander at Foodee
How has being part of HIGHLINE affected your startup journey?
Ryan: We love being part of the HIGHLINE family. Lauren is super thoughtful, inclusive and always willing to extend her help. We attribute much of our traction and success in Toronto to setting up shop there. Visibility with investors has also increased as we are made aware of any event that might help make connections. It’s home for us and while we know we’ll eventually have to leave, we don’t want to and will resist!
When did you know Foodee had legs?
Ryan: We knew our business had legs when the churn decreased and revenues ramped. We also started getting testimonials. There is no one moment, but those wins started to increase in frequency and when they outweighed the bugs or fails, you get the feeling something is changing.
What advice can you give other entrepreneurs?
Wayne: Trust you are hiring the right people, coach them when they get stuck, be willing to pivot, and have advisers with experience to keep the leaders of the team on track. Be willing to make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes so they don’t repeat themselves.
Building a business comes with ups and downs. How do you bounce back in tough times?
Wayne: With laughter, with breaking bread, with sharing beers, and with knowing that day in and day out, I’m giving it all I have. Each day I seek to do my best, and I’m always pushing myself to achieve more. And if all of that fails, there always seems to a be a Beyonce hit, or a Ludacris track, that can put some jazz back into my step.
What other founders inspire you?
Wayne: The obvious founder that inspires me is Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite). I’ve never told him this personally, but he inspires me in so many ways. I attended Hootsuite parties when they were a team of 12, when they were working out of a basement office, and I was privileged to have toasted beers with Holmes and Jon Cartwright on Kits Beach the day he sent Hootsuite out to the world.
Watching Ryan build, grow, and expand his company has been incredible to watch, but what’s really inspiring is the way he’s always treated me — it’s like nothing ever changed.
What are you focused on now?
Wayne: Execution, expansion, and maintaining a positive workspace and a positive healthy team.
What has Foodee’s expansion to Toronto been like?
Wayne: It was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever done. Tough can’t describe the three months it took me to hire, train, set up office, introduce Foodee culture, on-board restos, and inspire a brand new team. I was so lucky to have been involved with the startup community in Toronto — specifically the crew in HIGHLINE, and especially Lauren Robinson.
BetaKit was the first team to welcome me, and I can’t say how wonderful it was having moral support from Ian (BetaKit’s founder). The entire HIGHLINE office kept it real, kept it fun, and kept it rolling. It will be a experience I will cherish for a long time.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Ryan: As CEO, your job is to keep the team from blowing up as you grow quickly, and to be a thought leader. That and keeping money in the bank.