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Productivity Growth, Technology, and Grilled Cheese

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Comfort food comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. But, as any elementary-aged child would agree, nothing tops a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Unless of course you’re someone that not only wants comfort but convenience as well. If you fit in that category, it just got better.

business consultants talk comfort food

© Flickr user neil conway

Jonathon Kaplan, an entrepreneur and founder of Pure Digital, took another step in his path of ambitious creations. He opened the first location in his chain of grilled cheese sandwich shops. His restaurant The Melt has an extensive menu of varying grilled cheese sandwiches and soups guaranteed to make your mouth water. And if that wasn’t enough, it had also introduced a type of technology that makes custom order and pick-up a snap. According to Kaplan, this integration aims to please both busy and efficient customers alike:

If you don’t want to wait in line, you can order on a smartphone using The Melt’s website. After placing an order, you receive a QR code — a cousin to the traditional bar code, but with more data encoded in a smaller space. You bring that to a code reader in the restaurant for scanning, and an employee then gathers up your order.

When The Melt has more locations up and running, customers will be able to choose where to redeem their codes, Kaplan says.

He believes the technology in use at The Melt will improve the customer experience, “rather than technology that is just there for marketing reasons or technology for technology’s sake.”

Kaplan’s choice in technology for The Melt, if we may speculate, is perhaps more than just about convenience. Given his history in development, AccelaWork ventures to guess that it’s also a strategic move based upon the lessons he learned from a previous failure.

Back in 2009, when Kaplan’s company Pure Digital sold The Flip Video camcorder to Cisco Systems, it was the first of its kind. In fact, at the time, the camcorder was considered such a step forward in technology that it paved the way for the industry. Yet, with technology evolving faster than our brains can sometimes comprehend, the camcorder barely lasted two years before newer products weeded it out. By 2011, The Flip Video camcorder was discontinued.

It’s hard to know where things can go wrong before they actually do go wrong. While Kaplan’s project wasn’t a failure per se (he was able to sell it off before the market turned), it still wasn’t the sort of sustainable business that most entrepreneurs shoot for. But when he created the Flipcam, he probably wasn’t thinking about how smartphones would overtake that technology. But after seeing that happen to one product, you can bet that isn’t something he wanted to happen again.

When we consider just how difficult it must have been for Kaplan to watch his creation turn obsolete, it leaves absolutely no question as to why he created technology compatible with the smartphone. After all, it’s an extremely influential product in our society today. With the amount of applications it provides to its users, it has become more than just a cell phone. In fact, it’s a one stop shop for owners, acting as a computer, video camera, digital camera, music player, GPS system, social media outlet, internet provider, etc.

Kaplan’s strategy of amplifying customer service through efficient and popular technology is incredibly smart. By discovering success through failure, he has enhanced his entrepreneurial endeavors. By following lessons from the past, we’re confident he’ll find that his twist on comfort food restaurants will come to fruition.

To learn more about failure and how it can be beneficial, consider reading Failure: The Secret to Success.

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