The company partnered with Tesco in 2017 to help customers filter grocery products on the retailer’s ecommerce website. Spoon Guru’s co-founder and CEO Markus Stripf is speaking at the Festival of Marketing 2018, October 10-11 in London (the undoubted highlight of our marketing calendar), so we caught up with him to get a sneak peek.
Econsultancy: How is AI used by the Spoon Guru platform?
Markus Stripf: At Spoon Guru, our main innovation is the fact that we combine machine learning algorithms with nutritional domain expertise to produce game changing consumer solutions for the food industry. We use AI to produce proprietary food attributes by augmenting and enhancing data from a complex array of sources.
This allows us to provide highly scalable and accurate tech solutions to end consumers via our app and as business solutions to grocery retailers like Tesco, who then use our proprietary dietary tags – classifying a product or dish as nut free, lactose free, vegan, halal, low sugar, etc. – to make their products and recipes more searchable, discoverable and ‘shoppable’. The technology increases choice for their customers with specific dietary preferences and removes friction across the entire shopping process.
E: Do you think the need for the Spoon Guru app shows that the food industry is slow to react to current trends?
MS: Unquestionably, the food industry has been slow to respond to consumer demand for more accuracy, relevance and choice when it comes to finding suitable foods for individual requirements.
Our mission is to transform the world of Food Search. 64% of the world’s population now actively exclude foodstuffs from their diet, yet finding suitable foods on supermarkets’ websites or in stores is a serious challenge. Whether shoppers have a nut allergy, follow a vegan diet or simply prefer healthier options, Spoon Guru makes it easy for consumers to find the right foods for their individual food preferences, needs and tastes.
Some functionality of the Spoon Guru app
E: What does Spoon Guru do to find new users?
MS: Our business model is B2B2C, in other words we license our technology to retailers and to food businesses who want to be able to respond to an unmet consumer need for more transparency and personalisation. This allows us to reach millions of people with our capabilities without having to spend marketing dollars on trying to acquire new users.
E: Why do you think big retailers are looking to start-ups to provide technology solutions, rather than developing them themselves?
MS: There are a number of reasons why large corporations are now embracing startup culture. Institutional inertia and siloed organisational structures undermine the ability to adjust rapidly to new developments in the marketplace. On top of this innovation is often hindered for cultural, technological or political reasons. Sadly, the status quo far too often reigns supreme.
The good news is that there is a growing number of success stories where startups have shown they have the capability to provide great, transformational services to large corporations.
E: There’s an enormous volume of social content on the internet produced by people with dietary restrictions – how does Spoon Guru tap into this?
MS: We are part of this exciting community because we champion consumer empowerment. For example, our Spoon Guru app is a tool that is widely promoted within those communities and we cherish the ability to have a direct interface with the various groups that represent people with dietary restrictions, whether that’s vegans, the gluten-free community or people who are trying to make healthier choices.
E: What’s the long-term goal for Spoon Guru, to be an ecommerce plug-in or a consumer-facing app?
MS: Our mission is to transform the world of food search, on a global scale. The frustration, confusion and lack of choice consumers have had to endure for so long is no longer necessary. Struggling is no longer acceptable, and food search and discovery must be simplified. Our role is to create technology solutions that overcome these barriers, and this will manifest in multiple forms, and across all channels.
Spoon Guru’s co-founder and CEO Markus Stripf is speaking at the Festival of Marketing 2018