Kafoodle Co-Founder Tarryn grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, where her Mum was a Cordon Bleau trained chef. This ignited a passion in the hospitality industry that has not been dampened since. Tarryn has been involved in businesses big and small, often brought in to increase efficiency and create value.
As a result, she knows more than anyone the impact that technology can have on streamlining processes and simplifying tasks. Which leads us on to her business partner Kim, when back in 2013 her husband of 30 years, Ron, nearly died in a restaurant after being given the wrong nutritional information by the waiting staff. He is a severe allergy sufferer. This event galvanized Kim to use her experience gained developing major online and mobile software solutions for the construction industry, and use it to make a difference to food safety.
Kim is personally dedicated to enabling anyone to eat with confidence, which is what fostered the concept of Kafoodle, an app that can tell you exactly what you’re eating whenever you’re eating out – giving you the freedom and confidence to enjoy the foods you love.
Before Kafoodle, I helped build restaurant and food brands both in Cape Town and London, for companies such as D and D London, Tom Aikens Limited and Caesars Entertainment, to name but a few. I’m a qualified nutritionist with over a decade of experience in the hospitality sector, and have always had a passion for food and technology, so when I saw this opportunity to help food businesses comply with the newly introduced allergen and nutrition legislation, it couldn’t have been more apt for me.
With any new tech business, the first hurdle is always to get users on board, but I truly believe that when the right technology is introduced and embraced, it can streamline processes and simplify tasks, leading to increased efficiency and revenue.
Like any business, we’ve faced challenges along the way, the biggest for me has probably been finding good people who share our vision to work with us. Hiring the right people is always a challenge, whatever sector you’re in, but especially in the current technical evolution where the demand for good and innovative developers exceeds the number of people in the market.
We overcome this by only ever bringing people into the business that fall in love with us as a company and the technology behind Kafoodle. We’ve found that only then can you create an environment where the programming team are genuinely happy and can get into a real deep development ‘flow’, enabling them to happily develop our tech purely for the intrinsic joy of carrying out the individual tasks required to do so.
As a business, Kafoodle is driven by either a personal drive to succeed or to answer an immediate problem. Kafoodle Kare, our newest branch, was conceived after an experience with a close relative of mine in hospital. I saw the potential to streamline food processes in the social care sector to better match nutritional needs of the ageing population. I have always been passionate about making all food transparent and strongly believes that the future of health is in our food.
The best advice I could give is to not spend too much time trying to plan the intricate detail of the project from the outset. Instead, define the outline scope of the product and work in an agile way. In most cases, requirements and needs change as you progress, and working flexibly could ultimately save a whole lot of wasted time.
My background is in the development of large-scale digital systems, mostly for the construction industry, so at first glance Kafoodle was not an obvious move for me! As CEO of TWP Apps, I created ‘Ontrack’, the award-winning industry benchmark for the online management of road reconstruction. However, I’ve always had a keen interest in nutrition and food safety, as my husband unfortunately has a severe sesame allergy. In 2013, he nearly died from anaphylactic shock after being given inaccurate information from a waiter about the ingredients in a dish. This event, along with the 2014 FIR mandating that all F&B businesses show allergen content on demand, inspired me to change direction completely.
It wasn’t a difficult transition to combine my passion for technology with a desire to improve food safety, and soon we had created a system that could not only support commercial kitchens to stay compliant, but help diners stay safe and make informed decisions.
One of the best things we did was to create Kafoodle ‘from the industry out’. Taking on board busy chefs’ first-hand experiences of ‘clunky’ tech, I was able to create an intuitive system that wouldn’t add to their workloads, could easily be picked up by FOH staff, and would lead to a restaurant directory app for a growing population of food-conscious consumers. We also approached the British Standards Institution to partner in developing standardised ingredient measurements, making the software ever more efficient. This is an ongoing and successful project.
My advice with any business is that it’s crucial to continually communicate directly with the end user, ensuring you understand not only what they really want, but why they want it. This is fundamental and will help you to deliver a quality product that’s both well-built and ideally suited to the purposes for which it was designed.
As a tech startup, time is one of our most valuable and least available assets. Allocating the much-needed hours to keep abreast of the advances in all of the software and libraries we use, as well as the assorted industries we’re involved in, and not to mention, researching new technology, can be a bit of a challenge.
My mission is to make Kafoodle the global intelligence behind food transparency and become the leading authority on food allergens in the world – a tough ask, but we’re on our way!
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