This week’s highlight is Isabella Jiao, VP of Marketing at FanFood, a Chicago-based technology company that creates the ultimate fan experience through in-venue mobile ordering at concession stands. With FanFood, fans can order food and drinks anytime and anywhere on their phones, and skip the lines with express pickup or in-seat delivery.
Q: If you were a dog, what breed would you be?
A: Poodle! The super tall kind with curly hair.
Q: What character trait do you value in your coworkers and why?
A: Open-minded: We welcome any and all ideas because that’s how we innovate and grow as a startup. It’s important for everyone on the team to be proactive in coming up with ideas, but also open to giving other people’s ideas a shot. Hey, you never know!
Hard-working: We want to change how fans experience food at sports, entertainment and hospitality venues. It’s a very ambitious task, and we have to be the first to market. There’s no way we can get to where we want to go without putting in our 120% and believing fully in the mission. Therefore work ethic is something I really value in my coworkers.
Q: Name one (or more!) hobby and why you like it.
A: Song writing actually. But it’s kinda kept as a secret so shhhh
Q: What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?
A: Yes I have a cat but I’m not a cat person. I’m a horse person (alas I can’t fit one in my room though..)
Q: What is your guilty pleasure TV show?
A: Money Heist. In the beginning I was only watching it as a distraction at the gym but later on I got really into it.
A Brief Conversation
Can you tell us a bit more about FanFood?
Isabella: FanFood is changing how people order food and drinks inside venues, as well as how foodservice staff manages and fulfills orders. Our mobile and browser-based ordering app allows fans to order anytime, anywhere on their phones and skip the lines, all without missing a moment of the action. Food service staff can receive, track and fulfill mobile orders with just two taps on FanFood’s venue manager tablet.
Currently FanFood has worked with nearly 80 venues nationwide, ranging from high schools and D1 colleges all the way to minor league venues and professional arenas.
Is FanFood a distributed/remote team? If so, what are some things that you do for team building and culture?
Isabella: We’re based in Chicago, but have sales teams all over the country in states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona and Iowa. Slack is our main channel for internal communications and we keep everything open and transparent, so that nobody may feel left out. Every Friday we do a “Weekly Huddle” where everyone dials in to celebrate the entire company’s wins in the past week and show appreciation for one another.
What are some things that make FanFood unique?
Isabella: Our team. There’s strong camaraderie in this group of people coming together for the same mission and working extremely hard to challenge what’s thought of as impossible. Our team trusts one another, believes in one another, empowers one another, and always puts the team before the self.
Our product offering. FanFood is the first fully integrated cashless ordering solution for in-venue F&B. It’s proven that mobile orders are faster, larger, more secure and more accurate. Beyond our mobile app and web app, we also offer self-service kiosks and POS systems — all the tools needed to take an venue cashless.
Our venue partner base. Our solutions are built for literally venues of all types and sizes. Our existing venue partners include middle schools, high schools, colleges, arenas, minor league ballparks, drive-in theaters, hospitality venues...Any venue that offers food and drink services is a perfect use case for FanFood. We’ve specialized in in-venue mobile ordering enough to truly help each type of venue succeed.
Final question - tell us more about Money Heist!
Isabella: It’s a really cool story about a heist happening at the royal mint of Spain. To me it was a refreshing setting since the robbery doesn’t happen at a bank but at a money printing factory. Their theory was that they weren’t robbing from anyone since they were printing new money, and each time there’s an expansionary money policy it works the same way — printing new money to inject into the economy. And the whole storyline is just full of ups and downs and suspense, and is just a thrilling experience to watch.