Feastfox: eat spontaneously

Do you love food? I do.

Do you love clever, digitally-based food cultures? I do.

How about when the two of them are combined? Even better.

Readers, meet Feastfox. Feastfox, meet readers. If you haven’t yet heard of this brilliant new food app, the time has come! Originating in Silicon Valley, and now in both Cape Town and Budapest, Feastfox is the new “spontaneous eating out app”. It allows you to explore the best of Cape Town bars, restaurants and cafes. Some, I guarantee, you haven’t heard of or been to before. Whether you’re booking a table at Sotano, or getting 50% off at Active Sushi, there’s a spot for you.

I’m obsessed with this app mostly because I am incredibly indecisive, and because Cape Town’s food scene is so rich with choice, Feastfox takes the hard part (thinking) out of my hands and replaces it with a divine restaurant and a great deal.

For this blog post, I chatted with co-founder Stuart Murless about Feastfox, the life of a startup, company culture, Feastfox’s fantastic international internship program and, my personal favourite, Stuart’s recently read books.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about how Feastfox came about?

A: Two of our co-founders, Daniel Petz (CEO) and Mattia Ferrini (Head of Machine Learning) saw a problem in that their lifestyle was generally spontaneous rather than pre-planned, especially when it comes to eating out. There was no platform that fit into that lifestyle. Daniel & Mattia, then brought myself (Head of Feastfox South Africa) & Endre Varga (Head of Development) on and the four of us worked for months to bring this idea to fruition, conducting market research and talking to hundreds of people. The Feastfox app is our solution to this problem.

Q: Startups solve problems. What was the problem that sparked the idea for Feastfox?

A: Making a decision about where to go out for lunch or dinner can be difficult. We found ourselves going to the same places all the time, not because these spots were the best, but because they were familiar and required no effort. Finding inspiration for new places to try when you’re tired and hungry is an effort. We built Feastfox so that discovery can be fun again.

We hand picked the best restaurants in Cape Town and show you what’s available in the moment. This takes the effort out of deciding where to go. To make this process even easier and more visual, we hired professional photographers to take beautiful photos of each spot so that you can explore them from your phone.

The second challenge is making a reservation after you have made up your mind. We don’t enjoy making phone calls, let alone calling restaurants to make reservations. With Feastfox, you no longer have to call, repeatedly spell your name or worry about sticking to your prearranged reservation. You tap a button and the table is yours.

Q: It’s currently in Silicon Valley, Cape Town and Budapest. Why those cities?

A: Daniel Petz, our CEO, is at Stanford University in Silicon Valley. The majority of our investors and many of our advisors are also based in Silicon Valley.

Our tech co-founder, Endre is based in Budapest and some of our advisors are based in Hungary.

Cape Town has high mobile penetration, a high concentration of great restaurants, & openness to new mobile solutions making it a great first market.

Q: Who are the other Feastfox founders? Were you friends before Feastfox?

A: Daniel Petz is our CEO
Endre Varga heads up our tech
Mattia Ferrini focuses on machine learning and data science

Daniel was integral in bringing the team together and knew each of us personally. Daniel and I are close friends, Endre and Daniel grew up and played water polo together. Daniel and Mattia worked together in Switzerland and became friends. We each brought different skills to the team and have become friends whilst working together.

Q: The Stanford program BASES includes an $100k Startup Challenge of which Feastfox was a contender. Is this right? If so, can you talk a little bit more about this challenge? How far did Feastfox get?

A: Feastfox took part in the 2017 Stanford Bases Challenge and made it into the final round consisting of 12 of the best consumer startups across all graduate & undergraduate schools at Stanford.

Q: How do you choose the restaurants to add to Feastfox? Is it your vision to see all restaurants on Feastfox, or a carefully curated selection?

A: It is definitely a curated list and we don’t necessarily want to have every restaurant on the platform. We focused on restaurants with high user ratings on review sites as well as those which we enjoy and which were recommended by customers during focus groups.

Q: Where do you see Feastfox 5 years from now?

A: The long term vision is a global, mobile marketplace that redefines the way people explore, book and enjoy spontaneous dining experiences. Our hope is that in the future you will be able to pull out your Feastfox app and find the best local spots in every major city worldwide.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of the startup life?

A: It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride. A good friend gave me sound advice when he said you won’t have good days and bad days but rather good hours and bad hours. You get some great news and feel on top of the world for an hour or two, only to be followed by some new challenge. Elon Musk put it rather well when he said “The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress.”

Q: How would you define your company culture?

A: Feastfox is quite new so the company culture is still evolving, however, a few things which are important to all of us are:

  • Being ethical and respectful at all times
  • Building a venture that is second to none
  • Making decisions based on data rather than feelings
  • Focusing on contributions rather than titles
  • Embracing an ownership culture – every permanent staff member holds shares in Feastfox Inc.
  • Hire the smartest people for every role

Q: Enough about Feastfox. Let’s talk about Stuart. What’s your favourite restaurant in Cape Town at the moment?

A: It’s very difficult to pick a spot in Cape Town as I deal with so many of them. My favourite spot nearby is The Table at De Meye. It feels like Sunday lunch with family. You sit at long tables in the garden and are served sharing platters of incredible food by Luke. The food is prepared by his wife Jess and a lot of the ingredients are from their garden.

Q: Your favourite restaurant anywhere in the world?

A: I’ve travelled quite extensively but have found it difficult to match the quality of the restaurants in Cape Town. I have usually travelled on a bit of a budget so haven’t tried the top spots in London or NYC. I had a wonderful night at a spot called Bistro el Bandido in Bogota, Colombia and there are days where I wish I was back at a little beach shack in Nicaragua which served Tacos and cold Toña beer.

Q: What’s your favourite meal to cook at home?

A: Ribeye steak on the braai. My culinary skills are quite limited! Luckily my wife is an incredible cook.

Q: You and your wife went backpacking/travelling for your honeymoon. I love that you documented your journey! Did that trip influence or inspire the launch of Feastfox in any way?

A: I hadn’t really thought about it that way but it may have. I love to eat where the locals are and hate being in a tourist trap. This required lots of checking out blogs and chatting with locals. For a tourist coming to Cape Town, Feastfox has a curated list of great spots that locals love. It shows them what’s available near to them and integrates with Google Maps in case they are on foot and Uber if they want to venture a bit further. It basically lets them eat out like a local.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?

A: Recently finished Chaos Monkeys, The Upstarts, The Everything Store, and Notes from a Small Island.

Q: Any other cool insider information you can or want to give us?

A: Not many people know but we have a pretty awesome international internship programme that runs throughout the year. We recently had interns from Austria and Italy, and we received a lot of interest from the US and locally. Our CEO gave in-depth training to all interns, based on his MBA entrepreneurship learnings from Stanford, including topics like “how to fundraise”, “how to run hypothesis tests”, “how sales work in technology companies” etc. We currently have openings for marketing, design, engineering, customer success and business development internship roles on our website.

Feastfox partner restaurants include Schekters Raw, Reuben’s, Clarke’s, and Culture Club Cheese, plus a host of other fantastic places. Available on the App Store (here) and Google Play (here). Get downloading!