Guest post by Marko Francekovic, founder at Hungrio, a company invested by Eleven.

It's been a while since I have written about what is going on with Hungrio. September 15th we have arrived in Sofia - as we were accepted to Eleven. I still can't believe that the three months accelerator program is soon to be over. Twelve more days until we will be on the stage, presenting our progress on the Demo Day. So soon.

The first version of our App is currently in the Apple's purgatory, waiting to be sent to App heaven or sent to hell (my Xcode). But the path to this version was filled with crossroads and end of the road signs.

I want to explain the thoughts and reasons behind each of our pivots. It's funny how behind each pivot lies the same end goal - help people make better restaurant choices by giving them deeper insight about what is going on in the restaurant.

Pivot #1 - The Scare

Few days before we have started our journey to Sofia we talked and got really scared of building a two-sided market. So during the first week, we turned from the two-sided market towards a SaaS solution aimed to help restaurants manage their online presence - thinking a more beautiful, photo-centric, daily updated and easily shareable'restaurant page' will help people get better info and thus help them make a better choice.

First two weeks of the program were centered around lectures + mentoring sessions. During that time we created a mockup which we planned to use when talking to restaurants.

We went out to see how restaurants will react to this product. Lukewarm. They felt this product won't make or break them. During our conversations with the restaurants, we tried to use The Mom Test. So during that week of talking with restaurants, we did two things: invalidated our pivot and learned two important things.

    • restaurants will not input the data by themselves;
    • they are already paying more money than we thought to anybody who brings them customers;

These findings will, later on, prove to be really important.

Pivot #2 - The Return

Our initial, pre-pivot hypothesis was that people would like to visit restaurants more often if they had better deals at hands reach.

As we got better at differentiating market segments, we started to understand that we can't be a general purpose thing. We can't address the needs of everybody who wants to go to a restaurant.

We took a step back and went back to our initial idea, but knowing that the restaurants will not input the data Ad hoc as their workflow doesn't allow it. We figured let's make it schedulable, and let them promote package deals. Which wouldn't point out a discounted price, but rather be various combinations of the main dish, appetizers, desserts, wines.

In that time we got in contact with Željka, the founder of Croatian Gastro Magazine Mrvica. We have started communicating to learn from her and to see if there is a possibility of a partnership. A really important notion appeared. Željka was willing to get involved - if the content would be curated and carefully selected. Later on, it will turn out that we have more things in common with Željka than we thought at first - our love for food and food's impact on life.

Other important conversation happened with our investor Daniel who happens to share our zest for food. Daniel has a lot of experience in retail and he shared his knowledge with us. I will point out one thing that shaped our vision of Hungrio. He separated retail points into convenience points and destination points.

For three weeks we were learning new things on daily basis, and I was slowly going forward learning iOS so we can actually build something.

Pivot #3 - The Puzzle

You know when you do a puzzle, and at first, you have all these parts, which are hard to match and it goes slowly. But as you progress with time, the picture starts to appear.

This is how I just recently felt when thinking about what we are doing with Hungrio.

There are many pieces of the puzzle, and it's hard to exactly separate everyone, but I will mention three which I feel are important.

1. Be yourself

In one of the million conversations I had with Veli (Hungrio co-founder) we were talking about what is important to us - and that is high-quality food, not overpriced food, but high quality, honest food. We couldn't be building something we don't care for much just to serve the latest fad. So we dropped any sort of discount thing. Food & discounts - not something we believe in.

Let's build Hungrio for people who value food and to whom food is an important part of life.

2. Distribution

First time I really heard about distribution channels was in a lecture from Max Gurvits. This was five months ago at a conference. Although his lecture was good and fun, I didn't have a clue what he was talking about and how it applies to me.

We are building a two-sided market, and it's just senseless to think that we can approach every user from each side and explain to him how Hungrio can help them.

This is where distribution comes in. It came so naturally. We are talking to Željka (Croatia) and Marina (Bulgaria) about our partnerships without realizing that they are the perfect distribution for Hungrio. They already have strong networks, both with restaurants and food lovers. They will become our trusted partners/curators and help us distribute. While we can focus on the product, growth, and marketing.

3. Simplify

On all of our pivots, mini-pivots we had a lot of features. And each feature seemed ok at first, but each one proved to be a gatekeeper.

Let me give you two examples:

Mobile booking - seems cool right? At least it did to me. But it happens to be that the restaurant won't bother with any other form of booking they aren't already accustomed to (read: telephone). Which is totally cool, there will be mobile bookings sometime in the future, but not yet. By removing this feature we made our App 10x simpler to use and the user won't need to log in.

Restaurant dashboard - we spent plenty of time developing a beautiful place where restaurants can input and update their data. What if they never log in? And if the content is curated by our trusted experts, do we need them to log in. We removed the dashboard and we do the daily job for them. This way we can be sure that only the good stuff is available on the App.

Each of these reduced the complexity of the App and reduced need for the scarcest resource we have - time.

Finally Over

Just to tell you what is currently Hungrio: it's a mobile app where on daily basis you can find great dishes or wines - carefully selected by local experts.

I am not saying that we got it right now, but we are definitely making some sense out of it. The first version of our app, which is far from perfect, should be available in a week or two. We will work on it continuously.

If you are a person who appreciates food give a buzz, or if you work on a startup and want to exchange experiences... Please contact me at marko(at)