Michael Mina owns this place.

After partnering with 53+ restauranteurs: Startup lessons and more.

Recently, I hit the 2 year mark of my first startup, Dish Crawl, and I’d like to take the chance to share what I’ve learned.

I’ve gotten the chance to meet some very cool people. I’ve built a good following and a community of like-minded folk. And I’ve experienced the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.

Even the best entrepreneurs who develop detailed roadmaps never end up where they intended to go. When I first started, I didn’t make a detailed roadmap. I merely read about lean startup methodology and read “Get Backed,” which made it seem like getting funding was the ticket to entrepreneurial success to the uninformed eye.

I had many mentors along the way, learned from many CEOs and startup founders, and did everything I could to accelerate my startup’s growth and development. I knew that the value of our company was based upon the impact we could make, and I constantly thought about what type of legacy I would leave on others. Hopefully, an amazing one.

My first startup

Dish Crawl. When I first started Dish Crawl, I was concerned with product market fit, and how I could build a following of true fans who support us. Dish Crawl started as an experiential marketing based company for restaurants in SF — we used experiences and partnered with restaurants to build their community of loyal supporters.

Before I began my journey, I was a food photographer for SF restaurants. I was contracted out to shoot food for restaurants. I also worked at a small food tech startup called Velocity App in San Francisco. The startup changed my life, and I am so thankful that I learned about the ins and outs of food tech there.

Near the beginning of the journey, I hosted a food photography workshop at a restaurant called Scotland Yard. About 30 people showed up. The restaurant set up plates of baby back ribs, fries, and hamburgers in front of us. This food photography workshop was about how to take attractive photos of food for restaurants, and how to growth hack your following on Instagram.

I had no idea that this concept would become something, and I’m thankful for that my supporters gave me valuable feedback at the workshop. Fast forward a few months later, I pivoted Dish Crawl into an integrated digital marketing and PR agency that leveraged influencer marketing to help restaurants crush it in SF.

Every day is a controlled hustle. I’m constantly refining my sales strategy and working on innovative ways to keep consumers on their toes. As a startup founder, I learned to wear many hats and to juggle many balls. I refined the account management process and always put people first. I always made sure that our clients were happy.

I’m most proud of how I personally closed about 53 deals to this date. This means that we partnered with 53 restaurants. I scaled the business from the ground to multiple six figures of revenue by the end of the second year. I catalyzed growth and vision, and relentlessly shared this vision with my team which consisted of designers, account executives, and account managers.

Working as the founder of Dish Crawl taught me to develop an enormous amount of grit. I’ve learned so much about the psychology of how people think. And while I did an undergrad in psychology and an MBA, I would argue that doing my own startup taught me more than any degree. Wearing many hats is imperative, and I learned how to work really well with our restaurant partners as well as cross-functionally to ensure the success of everyone.

Through working with over 50+ C-level executives, I learned to communicate well and to listen to others. Each restaurant partner is not merely a source of revenue; they act as an extension to Dish Crawl, and our success is their success. I listened to restaurateurs about their families. I learned about one whose father is 90 and runs every single day to keep healthy. I learned about their kids who are pursuing careers in human activism and education. When initially pitching a prospective partner, I learned about how to present, how to negotiate, and how to under promise, yet overdeliver.

Each meeting with each restaurant partner is carefully logged. Every time I meet with a restaurant partner, I review my notes and make a detailed plan of how to best move forward. I also identify what type of meeting we are having — a discussion or a decision? This helps facilitate the course of the meeting and saves time.

I also learned deeply about mindset and what drives successful entrepreneurs. Every day presents itself with another set of opportunities. To the successful, they think positive. They are imbued with gratitude. I learned to be extremely cognizant about who I’m associating myself with. I never associate with people who are negative or toxic and have chosen to surround myself with people who are optimistic and believe in each other.

This journey has been nothing short of amazing. Every day I wake up, I am optimistic and thankful that I am working with wonderful people and people who are generally making a serious impact in the industry — restaurateurs who are giving back to the local communities and generally care about others. I learned to listen and remember all small details about these people and it has paid dividends in creating lasting, meaningful partnerships.

What’s next?

My time at Dish Crawl has been something that I couldn’t trade for anything. I’m thankful that it happened.

That said, I’m looking for opportunities where I could make an impact upon hundreds of thousands of people through building a product. Yes, we impacted many people’s dining decisions by helping them answer the question “where should we go tonight?” Dish Crawl was more of a consulting business, and I am looking for an early-stage startup, particularly within the blockchain or food tech space, where I could make a serious impact.

Blockchain is an industry that will genuinely better the lives of millions and create opportunities that transcend our current ones. I believe that it is the future and works extremely well with all industries.

I’m most interested in product management roles (Product Manager), where I could test my ability to work cross-functionally with product, as well as business development roles (Business Development Manager), where I could be challenged to partner with influencers and decentralized applications within the blockchain space or the food tech space, as well as senior level Growth Marketing and Social Media Manager at food tech companies where I can truly test what I have learned for the past 2+ years at Dish Crawl.

It’s been an exciting journey and I can’t wait to see the future.

Stay hungry,
Jer Chung
Founder at Dish Crawl