Q&A: EatStreet’s Alex Wyler on 30 Under 30, Facebook, Kanye, & More

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we were able to have this weird moonlighting scenario for the company to succeed.

X: What’s an example of something you learned at Facebook that helped EatStreet?

AW: I worked on social login at Facebook. At the time, it was dominated by Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) games and FarmVille and things.

Now it’s kind of the number-one way that people [can log into websites or apps and not] have to remember their passwords. One of the first things I did after working on that team was integrate EatStreet with Facebook login.

X: Did you observe a drop-off in the level of technical talent around you after moving from Silicon Valley back to Wisconsin?

AW: I think the talent that is homegrown in [Silicon Valley and other tech hubs] is not any different [from Wisconsin]. You find that there’s a concentration of talent that’s moving to those places. If there is a talent gap, it’s only because the companies that are headquartered there are able to attract the good talent from around the nation.

What we tried to do is give the same attractors to someone who might … want to stay near their family in the Midwest, or might prefer the Midwest instead of a coastal town. We try to provide [competitive pay and] benefits, so that someone might come to EatStreet instead of Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) or Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

We’ve found that it hasn’t been all that difficult to recruit talent if we’re looking for college graduates. It gets a little harder for people who have been in industry for a while. Typically, people are going to stay wherever they started their first job. I would say the talent gap probably widens as experience goes up, just because the pools are smaller.

X: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who want to position their startups to partner with a big company like Uber or Facebook?

AW: We recognized early on that we’re not too good for partnerships. Partnerships [are] a potential side bonus that you could have for following your core mission.

Our core mission involves being the best partner, being a platform-based food ordering company. Being a platform is going to be attractive for people who want to incorporate food ordering and food delivery into their already existing apps.

My recommendation would be: If you really want to be a good partner, bake that into your mission and bake that into your strategy from the very beginning. Otherwise you’re destined to have alignment mismatches if you’re not in it for the long term.

X: I live in Madison and over the past year, I’ve started seeing EatStreet’s logo a lot more around town. First, it was on flags and magnets attached to your delivery vehicles. Then I began to see ads: on billboards, television, the radio, and elsewhere. Why was now the right time to increase your marketing beyond word-of-mouth and the local tech scene?

AW: We didn’t invest a lot in brand awareness before now, because we thought that the … Next Page »

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