Of Startups & Pushing Boundaries : Mistakes, Responses and Being Useful To Your Food Chain

Innovation tends to push boundaries, and startups can tend to tip over. That’s ok. But remember to look out for signals from existing parts of the food chain to try and understand what works and what doesn’t – especially from those who you’re trying to serve, or partner with.
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We came  across this online:

BookYourTable.com recently called up The Egg Factory, a Bangalore restaurant, to make reservations on a guest’s behalf. Egg Factory does not take reservations, and tried getting through to someone at the startup to avoid a repeat. Someone even represented them on the Facebook thread and offered a half baked explanation, but no apology.

The FoodChain : Find Your Place
The FoodChain : Find Your Place

There were also mails which sounded irritated and aggressive! Just a few hours ago, they did put up an official statement on their blog that promises to clean up the list (but continue to accept bookings in the meantime!), and apologized ‘for the confusion’, but a lot of damage has already been done amongst the connected restaurateurs community in Bangalore. In the words of someone on the thread – “This went from mild issue to snafu to fubar in no time.”

Others on the same thread reported similar experiences about PoshVine and Evening Flavours – reservations at places which had ceased to operate, and at places which had no clue about the reservation or don’t even accept reservations! On one of the sites (as reported by a commenter), the address, menu and services on offer listed are inaccurate, and coupled with the impression of having an association with the restaurant, could lead a – no pun intended – bad taste in the mouth of the restaurants’ patrons.

While we understand that errors do creep in, transparency and quality are important aspects that matter especially for startups – you’re not big enough to recover from bad PR.

A few things to remember in this context:

Don’t be a pain to the food chain you’re part of.

Innovation tends to push boundaries, and startups can tend to tip over. That’s ok. But remember to look out for signals from existing parts of the food chain to try and understand what works and what doesn’t – especially from those who you’re trying to serve, or partner with.

To paraphrase a popular Hindi saying, don’t make a hole in the plate you eat out of.

Apologize, don’t just cover up.

Things do go wrong – that’s normal. But when they do, be very honest, apologize and acti quickly to fix things. Especially in your early days – it’ll help establish credentials and trust – and you’ll also get a lot of free, solid advice from people who’re part of the industry!

And when going public, or responding to pained customers or partners, try not putting that foot in the mouth.

Be transparent.

Don’t hide behind policies, trade secrets – come clean and do that openly when someone points it out publicly. Of course, the ideal would be to be watchful and pre-empt such situations.

Once in while, it’s important for startups to step back and relook at what they’re doing in the context of the reason they started out in the first place. We’re sure BookYourTable, PoshVine and other similar services are out there to solve real world problems for both customers as well as for restaurants, and wish them the best in this. Just got to watch out for needless, avoidable antagonism and a counter-productive response when things don’t go right, guys.Be transparent

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