Founded in 2015, Flipdish enables restaurants to directly accept online orders and manage their online presence and food ordering services. Conor McCarthy, CEO of Flipdish, answered all our questions about the origin of the brand name, why he decided to upgrade his domain name from GetFlipdish.com to the exact brand match Flipdish.com, and why having a strong online presence is a crucial component of their marketing strategy.
Conor, let’s go back to 2015. What was the original source of inspiration for you to start Flipdish?
Flipdish started off as something quite different from what it is today. Back in late 2014, I was frustrated with the user experience when ordering a takeaway online. In 2007 I was considering building an online food ordering system for a project in college but once I saw that these systems already existed, I decided not to. But 7 years later it seemed that the experience of ordering food online had not improved at all. There were billion-dollar food portals and they had the most terrible mobile ordering experience. They did terrible things like requiring you to enter your full credit card number for every single order or make you enter an email address and remember password and also enter your mobile phone number. They asked for your date of birth and made you type in your address. None of this was necessary. Imagine eating in a restaurant and the waiter asked your email address and date of birth before taking your order.
So, I set out to design an app that I would like to use. It would not make you enter an email address or a password, it would remember your card details, it would use geo-location to work out your address, and wouldn’t ask for any unnecessary information.
After nearly a year of thinking, design, mockups, and development, we had created an app that was vastly easier to use than anything that existed. People who had never used the app before could register and place an order in under 20 seconds, compared with 2+ minutes with other apps.
We were very excited and started talking to tens of restaurants in the area and tried to sign them up for our new app, our new food-portal. But conversation after conversation we had the same feedback, and it required us to go back to the drawing board. We were educated about the terrible relationship that the takeaways had with the food-portals/aggregators. They told us that they felt like they’d been mis-sold by the food portals; that they’d been promised that the portals would bring them, new customers when in reality the food portals were doing everything that they could to siphon away the restaurants’ customers and to funnel them through their own platform. They would create mini-websites so that people googling their takeaway would land there instead of on their own website and then push them to order via their portal. And they’d also buy AdWords, bidding on the restaurant’s name as keywords. They would do this for both their mini-site and separately for their main portal page, meaning that the first 3 or 4 results on Google would be bringing people to the portal and not directly to the customer’s website.
They would not share the customer contact information with the restaurant so that they could not market to them and try to keep them loyal to their store. On top of this, we were told that the portals had increased their rates every year for the last 4 years and that it was becoming extremely difficult to stay in business. They felt that they were working for the portals and no longer had the profitable businesses that they used to.
The restaurants that we spoke to all told us that they wanted their own mobile apps and website which would allow their customers to easily place orders, where the restaurant could have their own loyalty campaigns, and where they could send push notifications and create their own vouchers.
So, after hearing this we changed tack completely and dedicated the company to building products that would help these restaurants stay in business. We realized that these small and medium-sized restaurants would never be able to build the technology required to compete with the mega-chains or the portals themselves, so we would build it for them and make it affordable.
What was the process of picking a brand name like? What made you choose Flipdish?
It came to me in a dream…. just kidding. It was rather less dramatic than that. We (James and I) basically wrote down two lists of words, all somewhat food-related, and then tried to match up the words on the left list with words on the right list. If we came up with anything that wasn’t utterly awful, we’d search to see how available it was on social media and if the major domains were available for it.
Did you start off with Flipdish.com or it was an upgrade from your previous domain name?
As I mentioned, we were initially planning a portal and we thought it would be based in Ireland only, and perhaps in the UK. While Flipdish.com was taken, both Flipdish.ie and Flipdish.co.uk were available. We ran with these for a while but as soon as we started thinking internationally, we had a problem. We toyed with Flipdish.co as a domain and then decided to go with www.GetFlipdish.com. And we really didn’t like it. Over the course of a year, James tracked down the owners of Flipdish.com, who turned out to be some mega-corp that wasn’t using it for anything. They liked making money and we had no option but to pay them if we wanted it, so we forked over some cash and they sent us the domain auth code.
While Flipdish.com was taken, both Flipdish.ie and Flipdish.co.uk were available. We ran with these for a while but as soon as we started thinking internationally, we had a problem.
I definitely think it was worth the price we paid for it. There’s only one Flipdish.com and we would not have been happy using something else.
What was the feedback from team members, business partners, and clients like, once you upgraded from Flipdish.ie to the Flipdish.com domain name?
I don’t recall getting any direct feedback from anyone. We were pretty small at the time and didn’t make a big fuss about it. For us, it was one, albeit significant, checkbox improvement to our online presence.
How your exact brand match domain name has contributed to building trust and credibility in your niche?
It’s really not something I can quantify. I don’t think not having the domain would have slowed us down too much, but it’s certainly not something we want to A/B test!
What problems does your platform solve and how is your brand communicating that?
Over the last 10 years, there has been a massive consumer shift from ordering offline to online. Instead of phoning a restaurant to place orders, consumers want to order online, either via an app or website. There has been a secondary change recently where on-demand ordering has become much more popular. People are much more likely to order their dinner to be delivered to them today than 5 years ago. Despite this consumer desire, takeaways don’t have access to the technology to enable this. The build and maintenance (especially the maintenance) cost of an online ordering platform is huge and not something that any but the largest food companies could or should do themselves. Creating an online ordering platform is not a one-time project. Technology changes continuously; new iPhones and Android phones and OS updates come out all the time, and more often than not software needs to be updated to take advantage of this (or even to work at all on the latest devices). All of these updates and continued support come out of the box with Flipdish. Restaurants who use Flipdish can focus on their business and not worry about if their online ordering platform is working perfectly or up to date. They can leave that to us and know that when updates are required that we will take care of them.
We want to help these smaller businesses compete and win online and this goes further than giving them access to technology. We also have a large success team that is on hand to assist our customers to succeed. As we only make money when our customers receive orders, we are all highly motivated to help our customers with their online presence.
What’s your take on the evolution of the food delivery business and where it will take us next?
We are going to continue to see the cost of delivery decrease. As the cost of delivery trends towards zero, we will see an increase in the number of deliveries. People will start to order smaller value items (maybe just an ice-cream, instead of a full meal) on-demand. In the grocery space, people will order the ingredients for their evening meal on the trip home instead of ordering a full weekly shop all at one time. As it becomes easier to order whatever you want on-demand, people’s storage space in kitchens, and their kitchens as a whole, will get smaller. The ‘cloud’ will be the place people store their food and when they need it, they will tap their phone and it will arrive at their doorstep.
What kind of tips can you give other startups and founders considering acquiring an exact brand match domain name?
The best thing to do it to find a domain that isn’t registered. And to do this you’ll need to hold off choosing a business name until you’ve secured your domain. There are lots of ‘domain finders’ out there which will let you enter words and will locate unregistered domains with that word in it. But if it proves too difficult to find an unregistered domain that you aren’t happy with then don’t be afraid to reach out to whoever owns the domain. From our experience, you should do this directly. We tried a couple of companies who said they’d locate the owners of Flipdish.com, including GoDaddy.com, but they were a complete waste of time and money and we were able to locate the owners ourselves. And if all else fails, just go with an imperfect domain like get____.com or ____.co or ____.io. If you make it then you’ll have a bit more money to offer to buy the domain you want.
Also, as soon as you’ve found your name, don’t forget to register every social media account for that name. Don’t do this manually but use an online tool to register these en masse. I don’t remember which tool we used so I won’t recommend any specific one, but a quick search will show up a few.
What’s next for Flipdish, where do you see your brand in 5 years from now?
We want to continue to make world-class technology available to smaller businesses in the hospitality space. As technology is continuing to become more and more important to running a restaurant or takeaway only those with access to technology will survive, and if the technology isn’t made available to smaller businesses at an affordable price then the megacorps will have an unbeatable advantage. I would hate to see a world where there are no family-run takeaways, where chefs no longer make food for the love of it, and instead where a small number of global corporates run the entire industry. I don’t want to live in a world where analysts’ algorithms decide what foods are going to sell best, where this is fed down to white-coated food scientists who work out how to create it by the tonne and factory workers in grey-walled mega-kitchens churn out food for the masses. And I want there to be a real person and meaning behind the brands of food we buy and not for there to be a thousand micro-target brands created by a single company, each designed to make the individual that they are targeting to buy.
Flipdish will continue to create technology to let the smallest of food businesses have technology that is better than their oversized competition. Today that comprises highly-optimized websites, online ordering and mobile apps, easy ways to set up paid ads online, and kiosks for in-store ordering. Tomorrow it may include different ordering channels such as voice ordering, chat-bot-based ordering, and a host of other tools to help takeaways run more efficiently. Whatever we do, it will be done to help our clients stay in business for the long run and thrive online.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help, or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at Mark Upgrade. We are always happy to hear from you.