Editor’s Note: Antonio Iannone is an agri-foodtech consultant in Italy providing advisory on a number of areas in the space through his company TheFoodCons. Here he writes about a foodtech initiative to support the country’s ailing restaurant industry in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Considering and combining all these factors, the foodtech startup Dishcovery has joined forces with another 40 companies and restaurant tech startups to launch the platform “Io Sto Con I Ristoratori” (I Stay With Restaurateurs). The platform aims to provide a wide range of products and services for free, or at a promotional price, to all Italian restaurateurs.
“United we can,” says Giuliano Vita, co-founder and CEO of Dishcovery. “Only by joining forces can we face this terrible situation. Most restaurateurs are not aware of all the digital tools available to them fo food service, so our main goal is to help them in the transition to the digital world in a quick and sustainable way.”
In fact, the primary goals of such initiatives are:
- To guide restaurants through digital transformation
- Prove restaurants the digital tools they need to promote their products in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions
- Reduce the economic impact of innovation in food-service
There’s a wide range of digital services and products available and ideally covers each step of the food service value chain, from raw materials procurement to online review management.
For example, Dishcovery, provides multi-language translation and digitalization of the restaurant menus, offering the clients the chance to see the story of the dish and the ingredients and receive suggestions on wine and beer pairing. A real “digital waiter”.
At the first step of the value chain, there’s Soplaya, a digital platform for foodservice raw material procurement that puts chefs in direct contact with farmers. “We must find the resources to survive this pandemic and support each other.” says Mauro Germani, founder and CEO of Soplaya. “Working daily with farmers and restaurateurs, we are seeing both labour shortages on farms and demand shortages in restaurants, so we have chosen to join this initiative to bring our contribution for free or with a reduced cost. Our desire is to be able to one day, as soon as possible, emerge from this situation into a stronger, better connected, and more delicious food system”.
Another startup joining the initiative is Cooki, which assists the caterer in the challenging management of food information thanks to its data collection and processing software for the whole value chain. With those data, it creates food labels, display tags and so on to provide clear and detailed information to consumers. “We are really close to our customer and to the needs of food industry,” says Giuseppe Grammatico, co-founder and CEO. “Lockdown is a very complicated situation and we were very keen to lend a hand. Now is the right time to re-think the business and to re-shape the way food professionals live their jobs. Nowadays our platform is open FOR FREE without the limitation of taking on a trial version. Our suggestion is to invest the time toda, to ensure you’re ready when lockdown ends”. This is our way to turn a problem into a great opportunity for each food business.”
Almost at the end of the value chain we find Tiller which, despite some differences, is the European response to Toast: a digital POS for restaurants, integrating some additional features. Gaetano de Maio, country manager for Italy, says: “The huge impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the whole food sector pushed us to team up with Dishcovery and the initiative #iostoconiristoratori since the very beginning. We decided to fully support the initiative as a way to bring our expertise in merging the digital and the food sector and with this create awareness on the new opportunities for food entrepreneurs to invest in.”
Food delivery is becoming the “unwilling protagonist” of the coronavirus emergency and it’s the focus of startup Deliverart, a platform allowing restaurants to merge and manage all their delivery orders on a single device, and avoid any headaches associated with multiple devices. “Simplifying and optimizing is our mission,” says Eleonora Bove, co-founder and CEO. “More than ever, Deliverart wants to be close to restaurateurs to help them overcome the economic crisis resulting from the closures for Covid-19. We decided to offer them our tools free of charge to manage and optimize the essential service of food delivery, by joining the #Iostoconiristoratori initiative with enthusiasm.”
Talking about food delivery, the greatest issue is the quality and the conditions of the delivered items; they’re not always perfect. To overcome that, four young Italian engineers with a passion for pizza invented HotBox Food, a kind of mobile oven for food delivery that’s able to keep the temperature and fragrance of delivered food for up to 40 minutes. “In this very difficult period for restaurants, the only viable option to stay open is to do deliveries,” says Anthony Byron Prada, co-founder and CEO. “Of course, transitioning from not doing deliveries to doing deliveries it is not as easy as it seems, and if not done properly, it can negatively influence your brand. For this reason, Hotbox represents a great opportunity to enter the delivery market and lower the risk to your brand. In these very uncertain times, we wanted to be close to our clients by ensuring that if for any reason they have to shut down their stores, we do not ask for the monthly installment during the lockdown period.”
United we can: a statement somehow old and obvious but that embodies perfectly the spirit of this initiative.