Joe Zender is the CEO and founder of nez, an app that offers discounts at restaurants, bars and cafés in London.
He spoke to Econsultancy about how he came to work in the food and drink sector, how he spends a typical day, and his favourite app experiences.
Hi, Joe. Please describe your job: What do you do?
Joe Zender: I’m the founder and CEO of nez, a marketing and insights app for London’s restaurants, bars and cafes. As CEO, I manage nez’s day-to-day strategy and operations, making sure the company is always looking – and moving – in the right direction.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Joe Zender: Ultimately I report into our investors and, just as importantly, our consumers and partners.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Joe Zender: You need to be something of a jack of all trades when you’re the CEO, but I would say communication, relationship-building, a sense of understanding, and having the ability to develop and set a strategic vision.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Joe Zender: Every day starts with the numbers! We’re obsessed with data, stats and metrics at nez and as we’re typically running multiple campaigns on any given day, I like to get a sense of how the day is going to pan out. Then, I’ll likely check in with the various department leads and head out to meet some of our food and drink partners.
Finally, as we’re a marketing app, I tend to spend a sizeable chunk of my day working with nez’s marketing team on our strategy for growing the businesses of our partners on the app, as well as our own business.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Joe Zender: Without a doubt, it’s the variety of the job. At nez, I’m able to get stuck into partnerships, marketing and product conversations every day of the week. Plus it’s a food and drink app! I spend a lot of my free time exploring new restaurants and bars in London, so getting to work with some of the best food and drink brands in the capital never gets old.
The biggest challenge is that we’re having to forge our ground right now. There’s no other app quite like nez so there’s no established business model to follow. We’re having to work that out ourselves as we grow, so there’s a lot of learning on the job – taking risks and measuring results.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Joe Zender: Our main goals at the moment are simply: happy users and happy partners. If we’re getting those two right, I think the rest will all follow.
On metrics, it’s the rate and cost of new user acquisition, balanced with the value that we’re delivering for those users. On top of that, it’s converting those new users into regular loyal customers who organically grow our user-base through referrals and word of mouth.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Joe Zender: We have an amazing product and engineering team at nez so a lot of our tools are built in-house and bespoke to us, but the whole company uses Slack and I find regular standups with my team essential for moving the business along in the right direction, given the pace at which we’re growing.
How did you end up at nez, and where might you go from here?
Joe Zender: I did an internship at JP Morgan which I didn’t love, and found myself spending all my money on food and drink. So I became set on working in the sector, and eventually came up with the idea for nez.
Right now, I can’t think of a life beyond nez. We’ve got a long way to go as there’s still a lot of London to cover. Plus, we’ll be targeting national – and international – expansion over the next few years.
Which apps have impressed you lately?
Joe Zender: There’s an app called luckytrip, which is brilliant. It combines a great UI with this wonderful element of surprise, which makes you want to keep coming back to it and increases the chances of an impulse purchase. We also look to duolingo as best in class when thinking about nez’s gamification features.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out in 2019?
Joe Zender: Don’t be afraid of embracing the classic marketing channels, but make sure you’re always leaving time to innovate.