Meet Shmuly Wolff, founder of JMenu, a restaurant app for Kosher food, and winner of the men's division of the CHYE COLlive elevator pitch challenge.
Following the inaugural Elevator Pitch Competition, which saw a wide display of local Chabad entrepreneurship and talent, CHYE spoke with men's winner Shmuly Wolff of JMenu.
Shmuly Wolff is the founder of JMenu, a restaurant app for Kosher food.
Video: Interview with Shmuly Wolff, founder of JMenu
CHYE: Shmuly, would you begin by telling us what inspired you to start your business?
Shmuly: I’m a local New Yorker, born and bred in Crown Heights. Anyone who rides the subway here in NY will have been inundated with the range of food service companies that sprouted over the past few years. Seamless, GrubHub, Delivery.com—they’ve totally changed the way the restaurant industry interacts with consumers. I thought to myself, it’s time we had a Kosher version for the Jewish consumer.
It’s true, these other companies have some Kosher restaurants on their lists. But many Kosher places don’t have a relationship with them, and often they put “Kosher-style” or deli as Kosher even though it’s not actually Kosher. And besides, isn’t it better to have a complete list of only Kosher stores on one app?
CHYE: So how did you go about getting JMenu off the ground?
I began researching the industry a little and found out how it works. I hired a developer to create my app, and I reached out to local restaurants to see if they’d come on board.
The restaurants loved the idea. A lot of Kosher restaurants didn’t have an online presence, and JMenu gave them the opportunity to reach their customers online. As well, we work as a free marketing service for them. Whenever someone opens our app and searches for Kosher food in the area, their restaurant now pops up as one of the options.
In under a year since starting JMenu, we have 44 NYC restaurants signed up. 85% of restaurants on the Upper East and West side are on JMenu. It’s really growing, and we’re looking now to expand to other Jewish areas like LA and Miami.
CHYE: How does JMenu benefit the consumers?
JMenu doesn’t only service the restaurants; it’s great for the customers too. You have a complete list of every Kosher place in your area; your credit card and delivery information is saved on our system; and you don’t have to bother making a phone call to get your food. JMenu is really a win-win for both the restaurants and the consumers.
The essence of my business is taking something you do every day and making it easier and more convenient. Everyone orders lunch to their office. Until now you had to place a phone call or plug your information on the website each time. Now you can just open the app and choose what you want, and it is all taken care of for you. It’s the 21st century—there’s no reason people should be making phone calls to order food. It’s a matter of time until restaurants won’t have phones. And we’re at the forefront of this new technology.
What’s amazing is that the customers on JMenu feel like they’re part of the family. Whenever there’s a mistake on the app I get friendly emails from people notifying me. They’re not angry looking to complain; they see JMenu as their Jewish product, and they want to see it be successful. I really feel like people treat us as if we’re one of them.
CHYE: What advice do you give to other entrepreneurs?
There are some great lessons I learned along the way. Things I’ve had to teach myself in order to create this business.
1) There’s no substitute for hard work. Things don’t happen on their own; you’ve really got to put in the effort. As soon as you accept that reality you’ll see yourself going places.
2) Don’t take rejection personally! It’s a part of the process, and it will only help you grow.
Click here to visit JMenu.