All Businesses are Tech Businesses Now

  • September 29, 2011
  • Scott

I’ve been getting tired of reading about “The Melt” – the new company / concept from the folks behind the Flip camera company.  Press like this quote from the interviewer: “You’re not just trying to build a restaurant, you’re trying to build… an empire…”  Wow.  Well that makes it a tech company right?  Well, actually, all of the big restaurant chains have become technology companies to varying degrees.  They’re also process-centric businesses (though they use specialized software and hardware, not general purpose BPM software).

Tons of name dropping in the video below (which only makes me more skeptical):

This should be my dream come true – I love grilled cheese sandwiches, and I make a pretty good one myself.  Their focus on process would be really interesting if we already knew they were a success (we don’t yet know this).  It is nice to see process and process tech getting top billing, in a sense.

And despite my visceral negative reaction to the coverage of The Melt, it *is* a tech company.  Comparisons are made to McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chipotle.  These are all process and technology companies that happen to be pretty good at producing food and coffee.  But extra emphasis is given to the processes and technology that go into the restaurant chain:

The same thing goes with The Melt. Kaplan went with grilled cheeses because he found machines that press and grill a grilled-cheese sandwich in record time, which ensures fast turnover, which improves profitability. The grilled cheese comes with soup because it’s cheap, and easy to store and manufacture. You can order from your iPhone, again, because this improves turnaround time.

Let’s hope they don’t forget to make a grilled-cheese sandwich that is absolutely better than what I make at home – and the soups better be good too.  If the food isn’t great, they won’t need fast turnover because they won’t have enough customers to eat the food.  Fast turnover only matters once you have volume.  Descriptors like “cheap”, “easy to store and manufacture”, “record time”, “fast turnover” – these aren’t encouraging adjectives at this stage of the enterprise.

The article closes with:

It’s a manufacturing and technology process. It’s really not that different from making portable cameras.

At the end of the day, you can’t taste a Flip camera.  You’re customers are going to eat these sandwiches – they better taste good.  I hope the folks at The Melt understand that better than the Business Insider.


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