Brought to you by Retail Insider and Webloyalty

Following the launch of the Digital Leisure & Hospitality Innovations 2018 Report (sponsored by Webloyalty) a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key entries in the report are being published.

Here is the Q&A with Nick Popovici, co-founder, Vita Mojo

1.How did the original idea come about?

Some years ago I was sick and did not know what was wrong with me. I changed my diet and it changed my life. We’ve now got a hyper-industrialised food chain but I was unable to eat black pepper, garlic, chilli and wheat so this was a problem with my diet. Everyone is different and it seemed to me that other sectors have become personalised and on-demand like Netflix for film and Spotify for music but food had not. The idea for Vita Mojo came from this insight.

2.What has been the level of take-up of the service?

We converted my flat’s kitchen into a pop-up and we delivered personalised food in the area. We wanted to see if people would pay extra to personalise their food. But with version one of our software when we went to top food operators they never went for it. The restaurants all said it was a rubbish idea.

We had no choice therefore but to open our own restaurant – in November 2015 – to see how much of a challenge it would be for our software to do 300 meals per hour in a small kitchen. We were building an operating system for multiple food operators so we’ve ended up opening two more restaurants to prove the concept in different areas and different sized units.

3.What about competition in this area?

Because the food sector is about mass production there is no other viable [alternative] software for what we are doing. There is NCR and Micros in the market but the sector is lagging behind others.

We have three components to our software (operating system) – that powers the front-end, the back-end, and the data analytics. Some restaurants like Tossed have software running the front-end but none have all three.

4.How has the solution been developed/advanced over time?

It has continuously developed to the point in November where we became a software company – rather than a restaurant operator.

5.Have there been any surprises along the way?

That people thought it was a crazy, stupid idea. This was not what we expected at the start. But what seemed crazy three-and-a-half years’ ago is not today. Once [contract caterer] Elior came onboard 18 months ago then it made a difference. We did a pilot for them at the canteen of Baker McKenzie, which gave us real validation for what we are doing. They are now an investor in Vita Mojo. And we’ve also raised money from crowd-funding. Vita Mojo raised £10 million of new funding in late-2018.

6.What can we expect from Vita Mojo in the future?

Even more personalisation with the food and more customisation to the back-end, which is all about robots. There is some low hanging fruit here in this area.

 

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