They say that if you hate someone, encourage them to get into the restaurant industry. Why? Apparently, loving to cook has very little to do with running a successful eatery. It mostly involves managing a dizzying inventory, dealing with a ragtag crew of employees (who may or may not show up during crucial periods), constantly keeping up with ever-changing sanitary and civil restrictions, and oh, let’s not forget keeping persnickety customers happy lest they post that Yelp or TripAdvisor review that could shut down your entire operation.
Yet, somehow, that doesn’t prevent the food and beverage industry from attracting many an entrepreneur. Difficult as this sort of business can be, we can concede that you can hardly go wrong selling a basic necessity, and we all need to eat at least three times a day, right? (Twice that if you happen to be a snack-loving Pinoy.)
Plus, with the advent of app-based business, you can still benefit from this vibrant, exciting industry without having to set foot in a kitchen. Mobile applications like Booky, which facilitate restaurant reservations and offer discounts, and FoodPanda, which hooks you up with all the food deliveries in any area, are all very good examples of this.
And if the following observations are correct, next year will be an even more prosperous period for start-ups in the F&B industry:
1. Consumers are more health-conscious.
Okay, Jollibee Chickenjoy will always hold a special place in our hearts, but whether it’s because of all those #fitnessgoals posts on Instagram or a simple desire to lead healthier lives, diners these days are making a real effort to eat clean, so to speak.
Take the prominence of businesses like The Sexy Chef and Paleo Manila, for instance. Lots of people would like to eat healthier, but lack access to a nutritionist and are too busy to make their own food, so these delivery services are proof that there’s money to be made in addressing such needs. Why would you go through the hassles of planning your weekly menu, doing the grocery shopping, and then cooking your daily meals when you can simply pay someone to do all of that for you?
2. Expectations for delivery services are much higher.
A decade ago, food delivery was mostly associated with pizza and hamburger joints. These days, we are spoiled for choice given how a handful of apps have succeeded in allowing us to order anything from pad thai to churros at the push of a button.
Even fast food joints have risen to the challenge of redefining their delivery services. Not a fan of talking to a human being on the phone? You can now download delivery apps for quick service restaurants (QSR’s) such as Yellow Cab Pizza. Not only do they allow you to place an order without having to converse with a person, but they also allow you to use promo codes for cool discounts or additional freebies too.
3. Instant gratification is the name of the game.
When you’re used to express deliveries, car rides to wherever at your fingertips, and watching the latest Game of Thrones episode before it even airs on HBO, waiting isn’t likely to be your strong suit.
Even here, there’s an opportunity for entry into the food industry. How about an app that allows diners to secure a place in line at a well sought-after restaurant so they can mill about elsewhere at their leisure while waiting? Or a service that allows travelers to make money by bringing back imported snacks requested by other users?
4. Diners are seeking more affordable options for organic food.
I have a love-hate relationship with organic food, as do many, I suspect.
On the one hand, eating produce that’s free of harmful chemicals or animals that were raised to wander about freely before being slaughtered for your consumption is better for you. On the other hand, it’s an expensive habit best suited to the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world. It also doesn’t help that organic groceries can be hard to come by. Oy, vey.
Thus, any food start-up that can bridge the gap between affordability, accessibility, and sustainable, organically-sourced edibles will have no trouble finding a market for its services.
5. More and more people are interested in learning how to cook.
Today’s customers aren’t just more health-conscious, they’re also more likely to try and whip up meals at home than go to a restaurant or call for delivery. For one thing, cash-strapped millennials save more money that way. Furthermore, the end results are great for the ‘gram and all.
This is probably why we see the rise of so many quick cooking videos on our FB feeds. Buzzfeed’s how-to’s for dishes like Three-Ingredient Nutella Cookies and Buffalo Chicken Nachos has generated so much likes and shares that it’s given rise to its own brand: Tasty.
Food is undoubtedly a constant in many people’s lives, but the industries concerned with it are just as ripe for innovation as any novelty commodity. So, yes, the restaurant business may always be as cutthroat and unforgiving as Gordon Ramsay, but if you’ve got a brilliant, unorthodox idea and the willingness to put in the effort to turn it into reality, it’s as good a jumping point as any for aspiring entrepreneurs.