Thursday, 31st August, 2017

Talking Tech: StreetDots

The concept of StreetDots is simple, by working with private and public land owners they provide trading spaces, or dots’, allowing approved street traders to book and trade on locations across the UK, at the touch of a button. The platform is modernising the entire street trading sector and they are encouraging even more brands onto the streets to grow their business in this mobile way.

By downloading the app, everyone from street food traders to retail brands, are able to ‘drive on, trade and drive off’, simplifying the once complex process of compliance and licensing. 

We speak to Lyndsay Anderson, Head of Marketing at the award winning platform….

Tell us about yourself?

When I was younger I wanted to be on the Farmhouse Kitchen, it was a cookery show in the eighties before cookery shows were even a thing.  After university I worked in training and development, eventually going on to head up the company four years after graduating.  I then moved to America and was encouraged to pursue a career in the food industry, as that’s always been my first love.  That was ten years ago and I’m still as passionate about the industry now, as I was back then.

I have been with StreetDots since the early days of 2014 when the company was transitioning from a seed idea to our first day of launching a street trading location in London.  Before that I worked across the sector, everything from Michelin star dining to quick service restaurants and even spent time as a food writer in South Florida

How did StreetDots start? 

Like all great ideas, StreetDots was a solution to a problem.  One of our founders, Atholl Milton had launched a food truck called Bunnychow and he was struggling to find locations to trade from – this was back in 2013 when the street food scene was much smaller – he was spending hours filling in forms rather than being out on the streets building up his brand. 
Atholl discussed this problem with Darren Callcott, Bunnychow’s designer, and they came up with the idea to create pre-approved outdoor bays that street traders could pop up on. 

Describe your first day at StreetDots…

We were gearing up for launching on our first site, the excellent Broadgate Estate in the City of London, back then we were bringing a rotation of three street food traders a day to this campus location with over thirty five thousand office workers on it. 

We still bring street food traders to Broadgate Estate on a daily basis and many of our street traders have gone on to build incredible fan bases at this location.

Tell is about the atmosphere in the office?

We like to say that we take a professional approach but with a relaxed culture and that sums us up quite nicely!  We’re still a small team (employing eight full time staff) and everyone is focused on their own work area, but we also try and help one another out.  The success of one area of the business effects the success of every other area.

What challenges in the industry does StreetDots address?

We’re bringing street trading right up to date, the idea is that you can book a pitch to trade on with just a couple of clicks on our Trade Smart app.  As well as modernising the street trading sector, we’re also aiming to expand it so that even more businesses can grow their brand on the street; this is important as it allows people to get into the market in a way that’s cheaper than trying to launch their own restaurant or store. 
In what way is StreetDots unique?

Our technology platform! It took us over two years to master the operational side of the business before we even started to build the technology.  That’s important because we had to think through so many tiny details in order to be able to create a truly smart booking system. 
For instance, one of the benefits of trading with StreetDots is that a street trader won’t be placed in a location with another trader selling a similar type of food, as the clever algorithms in our Trade Smart app matches everything up at the back end so that you as a trader are only able to book the locations that are right for you. 

What are the ambitions of the company?

To modernise and grow the entire street trading sector.  We want people to see this as a great way of building a business and encourage consumers to use StreetDots locations as a way of accessing new brands and interesting products.  As we grow, we’ll expand into other types of retail and consumers can then track what’s around them on the StreetDots app. 

What challenges do you or your colleagues encounter on a day to day basis in this industry?

Everything from challenging the status quo to dealing with the breakdown of a vintage street food truck.  No day is without its challenges but we’re solutions-focused which is important when you’re working in a sector that has plenty of outdated practises.  Not everyone is as excited about change as we are!

Tell us about the best day you’ve had whilst working at StreetDots….

In 2016 we launched version 1 of our consumer app, it was right in the middle of the World Cup so we celebrated the app and the football over a few drinks.  Back then, the StreetDots app was pretty basic but it felt like an incredible achievement to take something that we hand-sketched on paper and then physically play around with it on our phones. 

We’ve created three apps now, the Trade Smart app that’s used by our traders to book locations, the StreetDots consumer app that the public uses to find street traders all around them and an internal app that tracks all of the data across the business.  Every time we launch an update and add functionality to any of the apps, it feels like a real milestone to see the company get smarter and smarter.