Business Darwinism for Local Food Entrepreneurs

Sun Mar 22 2020
Digital transformation

Adapting to Survive the Covid-19 Crisis

In the past few days, as I was scrolling down my Insta feed 100 times per day as usual, I noticed something very interesting. Besides all the memes about toilet paper and all the stories summoning people to chill the f*** out, besides the Masterclass ads and all the ads for a various range of project management tools and growth hacking on Instagram experts, besides all this, I noticed what my local shops, restaurants, designers, concert halls, etc. were posting. And in this apocalyptical period, their aptitude to adapt in order to survive astounded me.

Please find below the first part dedicated to the food businesses: local restaurants and catering services

How do small businesses who used to heavily rely on their physical point of sale evolved in a contactless world?

The Golden Age of Wolt

Restaurants and catering services have quickly adapted to Covid-19 by listing their restaurant to food delivery platforms like Wolt and Foodora, in Helsinki. Those who were already registered have been pushing much more obviously their delivery platform. Green Hippo Café digital marketing rocks and I still can't tell if they're genuinely candid or if they are cynically smart but their Insta is usually as well fed as their customers.

Below, the smartest post about Corona virus and the frenzied toilet paper shopping I've seen so far.

However El Rey Taqueria is ready to go the extra miles. They have just set up their own pick-up spot in the blink of an eye (in 4 days):

From food to content production

As for people offering only catering service, I found that My Dear Kitchen's approach was very creative and versatile as she seems to align her strategy to online content producers (aka influencers, e.g Youtubers) with a Patreon page, a new podcast project and home delivery.

Distribution in the stores that will remain open anyway

Other catering services such as Rulla in Helsinki were not only offering free delivery, pushing the orders on Wolt and Foodora but have also created a lunch box now distributed in supermarket.

Gift card: Get paid now, deliver later

Chocolate being known to be a natural anti-depressant, it's a great timing for Pralina, a young brand of luxurious and home-made chocolate in Helsinki, to invite people to gift their friends and relatives. A really smart move to get some cash immediately even if the end-users want the product later. As the brand offers delivery, people can enjoy Petra's succulent chocolates right away or later!

Restaurants and catering services, how to adjust your SEO?

In these times of uncertainty (I usually prefer the term Apocalypse, more grandiose than this gentle euphemism that we can read all over the internet), specific queries are on the rise. Every dine-out options are considered (see screenshot below) along with information about the safest ways to do your daily routine. In fact, search interest for “is food delivery safe” has increased 650% across the U.S. since the beginning of March, as explained in this article.

In practice this means dedicated pages to present all the take-away modalities available, and the internal safety policy you've implemented, with updates based on public releases about COVID-19. As a user, I'd like to know how often the doors are cleaned when I go to a grocery store for example. If it was more than once per day, I'd feel a bit safer already.

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In conclusion

These 2 types of local business have already showcased a pretty wide range of ideas, channels and business model variations which will hopefully be inspiring for some of you in a similar industry.

  • Food delivery platform
  • Free delivery offer
  • Own pick-up point
  • Online content production paired with crowd-funding/donation
  • Productization and distribution in grocery stores

Quintessentially, what is the experience provided by a restaurant?

Since we can't experience the ambiance of a restaurant anymore, I'd be curious to know if some of them are using props to enrich the experience now limited to tasting the food. What are the quintessential components of the physical experience in a restaurant or a bar? The food/drinks, the decor and the service. If the food remains the same, the decor and the service need to be re-defined with very simple things such as:

  • sharing a playlist on Spotify or Soundcloud
  • adding cute cutlery or any table linen in recycled material
  • selling branded goodies online (collection of tableware, candle holder, salt & pepper shakers, posters...)
  • a "personal" note left with the food to tell us a bit about the concept of the restaurant, wish us to enjoy the meal and give further explanations about the food
  • a follow-up email (the digital translation of the famous question every good waitress and waiter ask in the end: How was the food?)

To continue, the next post will be about retailers and their adaptive strategy to survive when we all have to practice social distancing.

Guiding Miam to a more user-centric & data-driven approach

Case study

Miam Clothing is a new Finnish fashion label whose team was planning to step up their sales and marketing game. However, juggling all the marketing channels was tedious and wasting the company's resources. Together with the retail agency Werk, we rallied around this emerging designer and created an omnichannel evaluation with 2 clear goals in mind: Empowering Miam to create a profitable seamless customer experience and find the most cost-efficient strategy to get customers. Read more about this new project.

Learn more



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