The Definition

What’s a food run?

n) the event of leaving school, work, or the house to quickly pick up food for and/or with one’s friends. It may occur in groups or it may be done solo, but if it is done alone, the food is brought back to the person’s friends. – Urban Dictionary

The History

I’ve been making food runs since I learned to drive at 27 (long story). I’m now 40 years old, so that’s 13 years of running to fast food joints to grab grub for my main squeeze, family and friends. I’ve never minded being the runner. It gives me control to pick the destination when I’m craving some place, plus it makes me feel good to get food for people.

The Process

In case you’ve never made or participated in a food run, let me break it down for you. You can say I’m sort of an expert food runner.  I’ve done food runs for my family at home, coworkers in an office environment and for random strangers at a party. Regardless of where, the process pretty much is:

  1. The runner decides alone (or after some back and forth with the group) on where to go get food
  2. People within earshot (or close enough to be sent a text) get excited about the prospect of food
  3. People place their orders either on a random piece of paper or through 20 text messages
  4. The runner leaves and gets more orders coming en route and has to answer “Is it too late to order?” from countless people
  5. The restaurant employee asks what the runner would like to order and the runner says, “Oh it’s a big order for more than me.”
  6. The runner then attempts to place all the orders by reading them off the paper, including the hard to read ones he scribbled down while driving OR the runner digs through 20 text messages from as many people trying to figure out where their respective order is (the final order, not the first one that they changed their mind and no longer “felt like having” 5 mins later)
  7. The restaurant employee reads back the order and the runner attempts to follow along, but usually gives up in despair midway through that and just pays the quoted amount.
  8. The food comes out and the runner would really like to make sure everything is there, but there’s no easy way to do that and since there’s others behind in line, the runner walks/drives off, hoping for the best
  9. Upon arriving back, the runner tries to take all the food from their car into the edifice; The food isn’t a problem, but the 10 cokes in various drink trays prove troublesome.
  10. The runner decides to text for help  or leaves some items behind while delivering the first batch.
  11. People respond to the text and come out for help or accompany the runner on subsequent trips to the car
  12. People either bring money when they collect their food or the runner gets the dreaded “Oh I don’t have cash, but I’ll bring it tomorrow”

The Frustrations/Problems

Just by looking at number of steps (12), we can clearly see this is a complicated process. There is no way something can take 12 steps and be easily done. Alcoholics Anonymous uses 12 steps to get someone’s life turned around. It should not take 12 steps to get food from a fast food restaurant. Let’s list some of the pain points and errors the complicated process introduces into the mix:

  1. Picking a destination often takes too much time
  2. The runner has to communicate to people that he’s leaving.
  3. Order just come in willy nilly with no organization or aggregation
  4. People never know where the food runner is or what the status is of the food run
  5. The runner quite often has to dig or decipher a way to find the orders
  6. There’s no simple way to insure everything got ordered correctly
  7. There’s no way to check if the restaurant gave you everything it was supposed to (receipts lets you know if you got what you paid for, but not if you get everyone’s order)
  8. People don’t know when the runner is back until the runner let’s them know
  9. Time is wasted figuring out who ordered what and verifying that Person A got the large coke order placed while Person B didn’t.
  10. Payments are a mess, if payment is made at all

Our Solution

We have a solution to this madness. We’ve broken down all 12 steps and analyzed the 10 frustration points. I, the founder, spendsd my life optimizing workflow for my dssclients that he builds apps for. In addition, he also optimizes random things in his life to make him more efficient and to give him more free time.

About 3 years ago, the spark for Food Run flashed, but quickly fizzled out. The idea was sound, but the technology itself wasn’t quite ready yet. While a simple rudimentary app could’ve been built, it wouldn’t have fixed everything in the process itself. Therefore, I decided to wait.

At Apple’s developer conference in June of this year, I sat listening to the keynote and realized the time was now. All the pieces I needed to make my dream food run app were going to be coming to fruition in iOS 10.

Our solution automates a lot of things and simplifies the remaining items left over. We’re really proud of what we’re building and can’t wait to show you. Sign up to stay informed about the new app and to be entered for a chance to win free food for year for yourself and/or your friends.