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Food Hoods: The Rotten Tomatoes Of The Restaurant World

Finding that special restaurant that caters for your every needs isn’t always easy, especially in a city the length and breadth of London. Whether you’re a local, occasional visitor or tourist, you may quickly find yourself bombarded with suggestions of the best place to eat, but keeping track of restaurant names and locations is a fairly onerous task.

That’s where Food Hoods can come to the rescue. Created in 2016 by Will Moody, Food Hoods aims to make your outings in the capital that bit more appetising. We caught up with Will to explain more.

 

Can you tell us a little more about Food Hoods?

The aim of Food Hoods is to help foodies make the most of their time in the world’s best cities, starting with London. We create hand-illustrated maps of different London neighbourhoods, highlighting the best places to eat and drink in each one. Our picks are based on an aggregate score from multiple review sites, editorial publications and food blogs. A bit like the Rotten Tomatoes of the restaurant world.

 

Why did you decide to start your own business? And what was the inspiration for revolving it around food?

I once heard an entrepreneur called Derek Sivers say that creating your own business was like trying to build your own utopia. Or something along those lines. My version of utopia is a life filled with travel and food, where I get to explore new places every day and try the world’s best food and dining experiences.

Food Hoods was born out of this attitude, combined with a recurring sense of panic that I was missing out on great places to eat and drink in London. Food FOMO basically. There are millions of food-focused Instagrammers and thousands of food blogs that fill up our feeds with drool-inducing pictures and lists of where to eat next. While that excites me it also makes me panic and wonder how on earth will I have the time to eat every single variety of Crosstown Doughnut before I die of obesity?

To try and tame my food FOMO a little I set out to create maps that showed all the great places I wanted to try – both eating and drinking – in a more visually appealing and motivational format than a long list. The idea was that I’d be able to see everywhere I needed to tick off in one place (and not have to keep track of everything I saw online). Because the maps are hand-illustrated, I’d also have something I’d happily share with other people on my wall or coffee table. I wanted to ensure the maps were both practical and attractive.

 

Foodhounds map

 

How did you find the challenge of raising enough money to get Food Hoods off the ground?

As with most entrepreneurs I made plenty of mistakes and didn’t make best use of the resources available to me. Initially I tried to raise £2500 through Kickstarter in order to cover the costs of the illustrator and paying for an initial print run. I raised about half, which I wasn’t that down about as it proved there was some demand for what I was creating, which is what I really wanted to find out anyway.

However, I later found out that a friend of mine was a master at crowdfunding – he’d recently raised £500k – and he could have dramatically improved my chances of success. The lesson here was to make sure you do a full audit of all your friends, family and contacts and try and make the most of their knowledge. There will be a lot more opportunity at your fingertips than you think.

After the small setback of Kickstarter failing I created a basic website using Shopify and started taking pre-orders on the maps. I borrowed £500 from my brother to give the illustrator a down payment and then paid off the rest as the pre-orders came in. Getting attention was basically a process of telling everyone I knew and using Instagram and Twitter to show progress and pictures of early drafts. I also got a couple of burger bloggers to cover Food Hoods when I had the Soho map ready.

 

Aside from the delicious food tasting opportunities, what gives you the most satisfaction from the business?

The main reason I started Food Hoods was selfish. I wanted it to help me tick of the best places to eat around London (and eventually other cities), by giving me both the knowledge and financial freedom needed to do so. However, what I have come to realise is that what I really enjoy about it is the opportunity it allows me to do something I enjoy every day – helping other travellers and foodies find the best places to eat and drink where they are. This is something I do with friends anyway so it is really a natural extension of that.

I find my motivation to put in the work on Food Hoods is far greater when my mindset is about genuinely helping people as opposed to getting x number of customers by x date. I feel more relaxed and much happier when I think about helping other people and providing a service rather than pitching my product. I would urge others to adopt this mindset too.

Five Bites Of Startup Wisdom From Food Hoods

  • Don’t underestimate your immediate network (as mentioned earlier)
  • Don’t set big targets for yourself – I try and improve a little bit each week. One percent gains, as British cycling coach Dave Brailsford would say.
  • Get confirmation of demand before you spend any money on production/marketing
  • If you don’t have an idea, think about how you would most like to help other people or what you are in the best position to help them with
  • Get more specific about your target audience

Check out Food Hoods on Instagram @FoodHoods

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