Digby Vollrath, tells Business Matters what inspired him to co-found Feast It, which champions the nation’s best food & drink suppliers; offering a better way to cater both corporate and social events.
What do you currently do?
I am the CEO and Co-founder of Feast It, a catering booking platform based in London, which I
started with my best friend and business partner, Hugo Campbell.
On feast-it.com you can browse over 300 handpicked street food caterers and mobile bars in your area, all of which are of the highest possible quality and each wonderfully unique. You can book a caterer in just four clicks on our site, for weddings, parties and corporate events. In our first 12 months we fed over 200,000 people and we are set to feed 3 million in 2018.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Myself and my co-founder, Hugo, had spent years working in the festival and events industries and we grew incredibly frustrated at the amount of time we were spending trying to hunt down the best caterers – finding out if they were available and then trying to book them.
We decided to create a modern and simple platform that would let people book the ideal food and drink for their next event. Delicious food, creative drinks and amazing service, without the logistics and legwork.
What defines your way of doing business?
That’s such a tough one to be objective about. Fundamentally, I strongly believe in working with people I like and trying to be likeable to the people who work with me. That has to range from the smallest supplier to the biggest possible new client. Most importantly, I try and make sure it’s central to the office environment.
I know I can be demanding, pushy, and have unrealistically high standards, but I always try and make sure that everyone in the team feels like they can ask for help from anyone else there and that if something goes wrong it never turns into finger pointing. I spend most of my life in the office, if it isn’t with people who I genuinely like, then what’s the point?
Who do you admire?
In terms of a business icon, I greatly admire Nick Jones. He managed to turn a café in Soho into an international network of clubs, restaurants, a spa line, hotels, and gyms within a couple of decades. It’s a pretty incredible feat to be able to build a network with so many different elements of the hospitality industry in so many cities and still have member waiting lists that are a couple of years long.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I wish we’d spent longer on customer research and understanding user habits from day one. With the help of some amazing developers we were able to ship a pretty complete MVP when we launched a little over 12 months ago, but a lot of the UX was built around personal taste and instinct. Effectively we shot from the hip. I’ve always been pretty confident in my decision making, and having a good eye for how people will use things, however I think I could have afforded to be a touch more humble and have let potential customers lead us to some of the answers we needed before we launched.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The network of people out there willing to help you is incredible, you just have to make the effort to find them, and a lot of the time that won’t happen at self indulgent networking events. Find people who inspire you, email them asking why they do what they do, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll take the time to let you buy them a coffee and chat over your idea. We’ve been immensely lucky that in a lot of cases those causal chats turned into our original investors and has led to Feast It having a pretty amazing set of advisors.