Giovanni started his professional career in Financial Services at Citigroup in New York before working for RBS and Lloyds Banking Group in London within Private Banking and Financial Markets. He eventually moved to Sydney where he works as Head of Innovation at Rubik and started HowAboutEat.
During his studies, Giovanni started to deepen his interest in startups as a Committee Partner at the European Student Startups Competition in 2012, Europe’s first Angel & Venture Capital competition exclusively for students. In addition, he was awarded a winning spot at Decoded Fashion London 2014, the PayPal prize at SeedHack 2014 and the top prize at MasterCard’s Masters of Code Australia 2015, which will lead him to the global finals in Silicon Valley to represent Australia.
Giovanni holds a First Class Honours degree in Business Management & Finance from the University of Westminster in London and a Postgraduate degree with Distinction in International Business Practice from St. Mary’s University College in New York. In his spare time, Giovanni organises hackathons with AngelHack, acts as a mentor for students at the University of Westminster and is unsuccessfully trying to learn how to surf.
Tell me a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Both myself and my co-founder had busy careers, in financial services and technology, and getting lunch was always a problem. Sometimes you are too busy, sometimes you just don’t want to go out, grab lunch and then bring it back to the office. We both have a deep passion for start-ups and after an initial soft launch to validate the idea, we saw a great response from initial users and decided to go all in, and we started HowAboutEat with the goal to make lunch at work easy and convenient for everyone.
Tell me about your business model
With a new menu every day, with regular, vegetarian and light options, we send a daily message to our users with the daily menu and all they have to do to order is reply “yes” to our message. We deliver their lunch to their offices a $1 delivery fee per order only. Our business model works around making large bulk orders from our restaurants and maximizing our delivery process with many meals delivered per trip. We generate revenue from the $1 individual delivery fees plus the commissions from our restaurant partners.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
In addition to our existing messaging channels (text, email and the world’s first fully automated food-ordering Facebook Bot), we have just launched the beta version of our Slack HowAboutEat app allowing busy workers to order lunch in their Slack chat with a single click. We are also developing the world’s first lunch vending machine, a tablet allowing everyone in a company to simply place their order with a few taps and have lunch delivered!
How do you make ideas happen?
At HowAboutEat we love hackathons, so when we come up with an idea that is worth exploring we have an internal “mini-hackathon” where we focus on that idea for a day and try to create an initial prototype of that new concept that we can push out to users and see their reaction. Usually, most ideas come from our personal needs, things that we would like to have available for ourselves and then we test if that need is shared by more people.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
We have been lucky enough to have many mentors in our journey so far, both as just advisors or investors in our company. We see mentors as incredibly valuable sources of experience and information that we can rely on. Most of them have been through the same experiences as us, and their tips on how to face the challenges that we are facing now have helped a lot.
What does your typical day look like?
At HowAboutEat we split the day into two parts: in the morning we focus on our daily lunch deliveries and we make sure that everything runs smoothly and that the service provided to our customers is of top quality. After our lunch deliveries are complete, we dedicate the afternoon to planning and innovation, working on new features to improve users’ experience.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
The Australian start-up environment is not as evolved as those in the US, Europe or some parts of Asia, and the market and capital available are not as large as the ones in those areas. That definitely creates some challenges, especially in the early stages of your company. However this situation also pushes you to be more creative and resourceful to run your business in a more lean and efficient way, and competition in some areas is less fierce.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
I have not seen yet any application or service to create the perfect platform for young talent and mentors to connect and build a valuable relationship, in schools or corporates, and I think there is an opportunity to do better than what is currently available in the market.
What companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
The food tech space is getting a lot of attention in Australia and around the world. Big players like Menulog, Deliveroo, Foodora and UberEATS are fighting hard mainly for the home delivery space, while niche services like us are building they own user bases in their own segments (office lunch delivery). The main differentiators between these services end up being service quality and ease of use, and Uber is doing a great job at it. We have launched the world’s first fully automated food-ordering Facebook bot, as well as allowing our users to order lunch via text, email or Slack. That’s pretty cool too!
What about internationally?
Internationally, there are a few companies testing our delivery via drones or other kinds of automated vehicles, like Dominos with their DRU. As regulators will allow for these vehicles to roam freely we will see the industry go through a drastic change. I think self-driving cars will have the biggest impact, and we will have vehicles custom built for food delivery who will independently deliver food to your house just using the existing road infrastructure and I see it as more likely than both drones and other types of vehicles.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
There is a lot that businesses can do to affect and encourage social change. Some examples of areas where the Food Tech industry could have an impact are reducing food waste, encouraging and promoting foods produced in environmentally responsible manners and generally supporting awareness and consumption of healthier food.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
We are huge fans of Ozharvest, a non-for-profit organization that collects excess food from events, companies or other commercial entities and delivers it to charities, free of charge. So next time you run an event and you ordered a bit too much food, give them a call instead of throwing it away.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
HowAboutEat is growing and we are always happy to hear from talented and passionate people! Just send us an email at [email protected]
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
How do you make something viral???
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?