We talked to Ylan Richard of EatCala about its meals and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ylan Richard: I’ve had the luck of not having any of my relatives contracting the virus or at least not showing symptoms, so everything is alright on that front.
I’m glad this pandemic arises in the age of the internet so we can keep busy while staying at home!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EatCala.
Ylan Richard: We started the company when we were students and at a time when we couldn’t find any food option that combined Quality products, Healthy meals, Convenient Experience, and Affordable price. We realized that the fast-food industry had the right kind of product, but the underlying economics made it impossible for any traditional actor to solve this problem. The low-profit margin made it impossible to increase the quality of the products used.
How does EatCala innovate?
Ylan Richard: That’s when we realized that we could build a product 10 times better if we could improve these economics. So we started working on a new kind of kitchen that automates all the meal preparation steps just like any person would do.
This kitchen is 4m² and can serve up to 1200 meals per hour. It is currently live in Paris in our first restaurant.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ylan Richard: We launched our first restaurant right in front of La Sorbonne University to serve the students there, but the Covid pandemic and subsequent closure of the university put us in a tough situation.
We quickly pivoted and decided to launch on delivery platforms for the time being. We had to transform our offer and generate demand from a completely different set of customers.
The university is set to open again at the beginning of next year, so we are looking forward to that!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ylan Richard: Thankfully, we didn’t have to layoff anyone but restructuring our supply chain to work more with local suppliers and pivoting from take-away to delivery has forced us to re-evaluate how we do what we do. It has been a humbling experience.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Ylan Richard: I try to force myself to take some time off and relax regularly. It’s tough because we are in a complicated situation, and we have to extinguish fires every day.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ylan Richard: We are operating in a completely new market, and there aren’t many companies that have launched yet. From the one we see, there are really two different approaches:
· Those that use the robotics and automation as a novelty and sell their offer as a cooking show
· And those that use this technology for its productivity gains
We fall in the second category, and we are doubling down on this approach to ensure that our technology allows our customers to get a better experience every day.
Your final thoughts?
Ylan Richard: This pandemic has had a gigantic impact on everyone’s lives, and it has shaken up the foundation of how our society is structured.
The accelerated digitalization of the world and the switch to remote work are among the (few) positives outcomes of this pandemic, even if they pale compared to the negative ones.
Also, we are in the midst of starting fundraising at the moment and are also hiring a Head of Marketing.
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