Bearded brothers leave Google to redefine online takeout
Wish you could go to one website to flip through food entrees from a variety of restaurants and then order takeout in a few simple steps?
Well, power brother duo Wes and Dudley Carr have rolled up their plaid sleeves to make your dream come true with Trufl: an online takeout solution where ordering food from your computer or phone is as simple as de-friending someone on Facebook or buying a book on Amazon.
I recently sat down with these engaging and down-to-earth siblings to get a first look at Trufl and the inside scoop on these guys.
What is Trufl and why is there a need for it?
Dudley: Wes and I developed Trufl (pronounced like truffle) as a means to provide people with a convenient and informative way order takeout food from restaurants. Currently, the process for ordering food online is clunky and more time-consuming for both the customer and for restaurant staff.
We have thought through every step of the order process. For example, our clean UI is filled with photos of each dish so customers can make an informed decision independently of having to pick up the phone and asking someone to describe the dish.
Wes and I also curate the list so it only includes restaurants we personally support and like.
And it’s a fabulous platform for chefs to showcase their food. We do all of the food photography ourselves so chefs and restaurant owners do not need to be bogged down by this step.
Trufl also makes ordering food effortless by requiring very few fields to be filled out and we have streamlined the checkout process by not requiring account and credit card information.
For customers who don’t know what to order, we also just launched the ability last week to log into Trufl with your Facebook account to see what your friends recommend.
What is it like working with a sibling?
Dudley: It somehow works for us. We are diverse in our skill sets, but we tend to think about problems the same way.
Wes works on implementation of the website on the desktop and on mobile phones, while I focus on business and sales.
We both eat food and have beards so that’s a plus. In fairness, Wes had his beard first but I started eating food at least 3 years before he did.
Are you solely a two-man operation?
Dudley: Yes, at the moment. We are planning on growing the service this year so we will likely need to get some more help. Since we currently do all of the food photography ourselves, that is likely one of the first areas where we will make use of the talented photographers here in Seattle.
What has surprised you along the way in building Trufl?
Dudley: Food photography is challenging – -something we didn’t fully appreciate until we tried it ourselves. Taking photos of an entire menu is usually an all-day affair. We have a set-up now where we shoot with the camera tethered to a laptop with one of us post-processing the images as they are taken. This way we’re making the most out of the down time between dishes, and we’re all set by the time we leave.
Are you Seattle natives?
We moved here 6 years ago. We were both born in South Africa, immigrated to Houston, lived in Japan for a while, went to school in various part of the US, and then eventually made our way to Seattle. We’re both very happy here.
What did you guys do before Trufl?
Dudley: We worked for Google here in Seattle -that’s what brought us here in the first place. We were with Google for about 5 years working collectively on Chrome, Google Docs, Google Voice, and Google Talk.
Before Google, we had our first start-up which Google ended up buying. We built Flash-based applications before it was a good idea to build Flash applications.
Advice you have for others starting their own businesses:
Dudley: We have always thought it would be helpful to think about the mindset vs. particular nuggets of advice. A gross over simplification of the right mindset for a start-up is a balance between the conviction you will succeed and the self-realization you don’t have all the answers, you can be wrong, and that others may have a better perspective, and being open to that.
What are your favorite restaurants?
Dudley: We love the restaurants we work with and that is not by mere coincidence. We sought them out because we like eating there. In particular, we’re very fond of Homegrown and Tutta Bella since they were there with us from the beginning.
You guys are towering over me at 6’3 (Wes) and 6’0 (Dudley). Any tips for me on how to incite a growth spurt?
Wes: I was 5’4″ until my senior year of high school and then had a crazy growth spurt. I give all credit to my past addiction to diet coke.