I have tried to approach players in the industry with different results when trying to discuss our offering. A few months ago I realized some old face to face networking could give me different results and found the National Restaurant Association Innovation Summit, which happens every September in Austin, TX. The summit calls and brings innovators, which is exactly the type of decision makers I’d wish to engage.
But, trying to attend proved to be a very expensive and frustrating experience.
The NRA charges $10K minimum to be there and gives start-ups a booth. Another option they offer is the Start-up Alley during the NRA Show, happening every May in Chicago. That also costs thousands and requires one to set-up a booth. The alley exposes start-ups to the general public attending the show. As much as I enjoy explaining my ideas to curious people, we entrepreneurs need to engage directly with innovators. In short, neither event allows entrepreneurs to attend to network and engage with individuals face to face.
I wrote to the president of the NRA directly bringing this to her attention. In all her professionalism and charisma, I haven’t heard as of today, and I hope it changes in the future, a vision of a different future.
How have you tackled bringing new ideas to the restaurant industry? Are there conferences, groups, shows, publications that focuses on innovators and do not require thousands of dollars of investment just to pass the door?
Lucas-I would have to know more about your product and how it works. The initial thought is if you can show how you can help one location, you are then in the gates and will have access to more.
Keep in mind many “Chains” be they retail or restaurant often locate in areas where the demographics they are reaching are similar so they can consolidate their marketing efforts. Many factors play…but it could be Population of 50k people and more…average household income of $80k. Whatever it may be.
So in terms of the CMO for 5, or 50, I don’t think you will have as much of a variance as you might think. Much of the work has already been done.
Especially in local areas. For example, there is a restaurant in north Texas that is growing very fast. They now have 80 locations up from 5 10 years ago. Well…north Texas is pretty much north Texas. And because corporate has detailed specs on where to build new restaurants, it is very likely that your marketing efforts for one restaurant 10 miles from another will be very similar.
But it also depends on the structure and freedom of the franchisee. Again, if it were me, I would personally reach out to the CEO, make the brief pitch of why your product brings more value than your competitor. Then I would ask for a “test store” perhaps one that has been struggling in meeting revenue projections. If you can show an increase in that, you will get a second, third, so on.
Regarding individuals who help put together materials for franchising, if you can illustrate success, it could be that your product becomes a useful addition as part of the services offered to the franchisee from the franchisor. And then you have access to numerous companies rather than one at a time.