We want to help restaurants (and other small business owners) easily grow their business, attract more customers and retain the ones they have, and provide them with data-driven recommendations for business related decisions. We've built a one-stop ecosystem to provide them with help for everything they need, in a helpful and intuitive manner.
What it does
We provide this software as a service to restaurant owners, in the form of a web application where they sign up and get started. Once they upload the menu of their restaurant, we parse the data and moves it to a database accessible by the Amazon Alexa skill that we provide to them.
Customers who visit this restaurant will now interact with the Amazon Echo Dot at their table, instead of having to wait for or wave over a waiter. The Alexa skill we've built will answer any questions, provide recommendations for the customer, recite specials, take orders, and notify the chef in the kitchen using an Android/iOS app. Customers can also use the Echo to play games, hear the news, change orders, and ask for the cheque.
Since all of this payment and order data flows through our Alexa skill, we can collect and analyze all this data to recommend business decisions to the owner. Our web application will provide all of these analytics using the Google Cloud Machine Learning platform, as well as display key metrics about the performance and sales of the restaurant itself.
As the developers of this service, we have built everything on Amazon AWS (where necessary for Alexa) and Google Cloud to ensure that our service scales up smoothly.
How we built it
The major components are -
A web portal which displays metrics, analytics, and predictions for the business owner. This was built using Google Cloud Storage to store customer data.
An Amazon Alexa skill which takes orders, answers questions and generally behaves as an always-present virtual waiter. Especially if you like your waiter to tell you jokes while you wait.
An Android/ iOS app that displays incoming orders to the chef in the kitchen.
Challenges we ran into
Figuring out Google Cloud APIs and how best to leverage them for the analytics and recommendations in our webapp.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to build and integrate a number of systems within 36 hours. We used AngularJS and Google Cloud for the first time, and were able to build demo-able systems.
We were able to build a customized virtual assistant in 36 hours.
What we learned
Integrations are hard, especially with a large team!
At hackathons, proper software engineering practices and exhaustive testing don't help. We need to get into startup pitching mode - develop a minimum viable product, and figure how to demo the idea and the product vision in the best way possible.
What's next for Chef
After some great advice from Jacob Orrin (CEO, Sigma), we're considering go-to-market plans for this idea. The initial version of our product will be tested in popup restaurants and vending machines to gain customer feedback so we can iterate and improve.