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Tinder For Restaurants

Amanda and I have a couple friends visiting us in Mexico City this weekend. One of them is single and was user Tinder and it made me think of how Tinder is a very elegant (and human-focused) solution to a matching problem.

It allows for very simple and quick decision making. You can scan through and surface level evaluate options at a rapid pace.

The same solution could be applied to a different matching problem, like finding a restaurant to eat at.

Food delivery apps are amazing, but most of them are still clunky and don’t make it easy to decide on a place to eat. Having a photo heavy and intuitive app that allowed you to quickly filter through restaurants would be a much better experience.

Right now to search ten possible options on Uber eats takes ~10 minutes, you should be able to surface level scan 20 restaurants in a minute.

Imagine a tool with a user interface similar to tinder–photo focused with swiping to express interest–that displayed photos and information on restaurants.

Like Tinder, you could initially filter for some interests and you could use the app for two use cases:

  • Finding a restaurant near you.
    • You set a distance filter and then can quickly swipe through restaurants until you find a restaurant you are interested in that is nearby. Swipe right to show your interest.
    • You could use progressing filtering. When you swipe right it would filter those restaurants into groups, that you could then go through and eliminate choices until you made a final decision.
      • Eliminating options in rounds is much more effective and low effort decision making.
    • Eventually, you pick a restaurant and swipe up to make a reservation or signal your decision.
  • Finding take out
    • Instead of filtering off distance, you filter on takeout availability and time, then restaurants are presented to you like they are on Tinder.
    • You find the restaurant you like and then proceed to an second level swiping dashboard for the dishes available at the restaurant.

Some other ideas around this:

  • Adding a curation function. Like on Spotify, how you can create public playlists, foodies could create restaurant hit lists, then you could filter through those lists. Learning which curators you trust.
  • You could use micropayments to incentivize users to share more information (like how long the wait is, how there food was, and uploading photos of different dishes.)

Food Entrepreneur Coworking

I worked in the restaurant industry for two years in my early twenties. During this time I learned a lot about how food regulations hurt entrepreneurs.

I don’t know if this is the same in every province or state, but in Alberta, Canada to sell food it needs to be prepared in a commercial kitchen. You are not allowed to sell food that you make in a home kitchen. It needs to meet certain government requirements, like having two sinks, and a number of other features.

As a result, the startup costs for creating a minimum viable food product are quite high. To do it legally you either need to find a restaurant willing to rent you their space. Or invest a lot of capital in building a ridiculously unnecessary kitchen that passes government mandates so you can legally run your food business.

The obvious solution to this issue is to abolish government. But since that is still a year or two off, the idea struck me that it would be cool to create a coworking space for food entrepreneurs. Instead of hot desks and printers, you could have a large commercial kitchen space, packaging/labeling, storage, and all the other necessary equipment and resources that you need to launch small-scale food businesses. You could even set up a small grocery store where the people who use the space can sell their products.

There are a ton of talented cooks and bakers out there, who are forced into shady backroom baking exchanges because they aren’t allowed to create small-scale food business. But in any city with more than a couple hundred thousand people, there are probably enough people to support a food coworking space.

Empathy as a Superpower

People give a lot of credit to others for the ability to emphasize. But when they talk about empathy, they usually refer to the ability to feel sadness along with others. The ability to feel sad because someone you know feels sad.

This form of empathy is oversized and overvalued.

The truly valuable aspect of empathy is much less common, it is the ability to adopt someone else’s perspective and appreciate their point of view. To overcome simple frustration or emotion that comes from your limited perspective and see the situation you are in from the viewpoint of everyone who is involved.

This is a skill that typically comes from age and experience. Building relationships with friends, partners, and co-workers give you the experience to learn that to get what you want you to need to understand what other people want.

But it is not a secret power. Empathy is a habit of thinking and something you can choose to make a part of how you analyze and understand situations. As a young professional looking to build a career, there is incredible value in consciously choosing to view your interactions from the perspective of the people you are interacting with.

Imagine that you are the person conducting the job interview you are about to interview for, what would make you want to hire someone?

Imagine you are the person making a job offer, how quickly would you want someone to respond to your emails?

Imagine you are the coworker who just gave you constructive feedback, how frustrating it might be that you’ve delayed a project?

This simple trick of taking time to view a situation from another perspective will take almost no time but will give you incredible insight into how to approach confusing situations and get what you want in the long-term.

A great example of this powerful form of empathy is Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones and his ability to change perspective and understand what other people want:


Tourist Traps

Today we took an adventure to Vulcan, Alberta. Vulcan is about two hours south of Calgary. It’s a small rural town. Known for producing wheat, for having nine grain elevators at one point in the past. But what Vulcan is known for is a naming coincidence with a planet from Star Trek.

To capitalize on the coincidence, Vulcan has gone all out star trek.

The town is a typical small Alberta town. The type of town that has combines filling up at one of the gas stations. The kind of place where it is hard to find someone under the age of 60 walking around during the day.

But as you turn onto the main street in Vulcan you are struck by a sight that is anything but normal. A large statue of the Enterprise spaceship from Star Trek, and a big alien spaceship looking building.

The building that looks like a spaceship is Vulcan’s tourist center. It’s a cool funky building that seems like it’s hay day was about twenty years ago.

Inside you can look at cool Star Trek memorabilia, and in one section dress up for photos in Trek costumes.

It was a fun experience. A cool and unique place not far from our back yard. More than that though it was a great reason to go out for a drive, explore a new part of the province and have some quality time with my girlfriend.

Tourist traps get a lot of hate. But if you can put your cynicism aside, and just enjoy the break from routine and normalcy that they provide those traps can be a great reason to have a memorable day and a fun adventure.

9 Thoughts

  1. One year ago, I was going through quite a bit of anxiety about if I would be able to move to the U.S. and participate in Praxis. The visa situation was quite unclear. It is weird thinking that a year has passed since then. I’ve gone, and now I’m back. I was talking with a good friend the other day, and he summed it up nicely. It’s strange to come back to the same place, but be a different person.
  2. I feel that even more at the moment. I’ve returned to my hometown to attend a friends wedding. I haven’t spent a significant amount of time here in the last five years. Five years ago I had just graduated college, and I returned home for a month to work before leaving on a 6-month backpacking trip. At the time I had only ever lived in Penticton and Calgary. Spending time at home, I’ve tried to slip into my old headspace. I don’t remember what it was like. I’ve learned a lot since then, I’ve changed. I’ve grown distant from old friends. Which brings me to the wedding.
  3. When you grow distant from your old life, you begin to feel weird about getting together with old friends. It’s not that you’ve tried to distance yourself from them, but that you’re trying to distance your new self from your old self.
  4. A phrase that has motivated me a lot over the past two years is, “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s simple. Easy to understand, but very hard to apply. Deciding to separate yourself from an old social circle can feel so wrong. I’ve felt like a dick for doing it. And not communicating about it. Just disappearing.
  5. This all comes down to learning to be okay with the fact that people don’t like me. To do anything of significance in life, you are going to encounter people who don’t like what you are doing. I’ve found this already in podcasting. And it is easier to accept on the internet. The hard part is learning how to deal in person, in actual relationships with people who don’t like you. I guess the only way to practice is to start doing more stuff that is going to piss people off.
  6. This is all about learning to be resilient. I’ve always admired comedians who are so able to deal with haters. Or so quickly identify and call out passive aggressive bullshit in conversations. There is a reason that there is a correlation between highly successful people and Aspergers. There is an undercurrent of communication and socials cues happening in any conversation. Being able to avoid those cues is helpful when you try to do big things.
  7. Being ignorant can be helpful, but the highest level of power comes when you can notice and choose not to respond. Being able to perceive the meta-communication that is happening allows you to see deep into people’s soul. You can learn more about someone that they know about themselves when you pay attention to everything that they are communication. Their posture, their tone, their word choice, their tempo.
  8. Most people just unconsciously respond to the social cues of the people around them.  They change who they are to fit into a group. I’ve gone through ups and downs in my ability to pay attention to everything that happens in a group interaction. In a conversation, especially with more that one person, there is too much going on to be able to think consciously about it all. You’ve got to rely on your feelings. You have to have the ability to notice and respond to feelings. Psilocybin, meditation, and yoga, have been the best things for me with improving this ability.
  9. This divide is between intellectual and intuitive knowledge. Not everything you know is something you’ve learned. There is stuff you know intuitively. And there is a lot of stuff that you know on an intuitive level but are rejecting on an intellectual level. You know this is happening when you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning. Or you are making excuses to avoid talking with a friend who you think that you like, but can never get excited about hanging out with. A lot of improvement can be made from unlearning instead of learning.

Yoga Entrepreneur vs. Employee | Post on MBOM Yoga

I recently wrote a post for on the difference between a yoga teacher employee and a yoga teacher as an entrepreneur.

Here’s an excerpt:

You were a yoga teacher. You worked at a studio, taught twice a day, five days a week. You were paid per class, $45 a time. It didn’t matter if there were thirty students, twenty students, or three students, you always made the same amount. When you started out classes were always full. The yoga studio was pretty busy. Everything was good and easy, but things started to go wrong.

The owners of the studio made some bad decisions. They weren’t treating members well, and then a new studio opened in the neighbourhood. It was newer and cheaper. The sizes of your classes started to dwindle. Twenty students turned into fifteen, turned into ten. You still made $45 though, so you were happy.

One day you come to teach and notice a sign on the door. It says that the studio is closed. Permanently. The owners shut the doors and left without refunding memberships, or paying teachers. You had been an employee, but now you are out of a job.

It didn’t have to be this way. You didn’t have to be an employee. You didn’t have to be out of work and depending on another studio to try and get a new teaching gig. You could have done things differently. You could have been an entrepreneur.

What would the entrepreneurial yoga teacher do differently?….

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