SpoonRocket. Cheap Gourmet Food That Won't Scale

Influency comes from a lot of places and a lot of things. Some are big, others small. Some are easily controlled, and others must be brought under control. And once you get Influency ‘working’, what happens? If you have an idea with market problems (and forget marketing!), no amount of Influency will matter. Yesterday, thanks to this piece in TechCrunch, I heard for the first time about SpoonRocket. I’d LOVE SpoonRocket to work, because if it did that would represent the kind of combination of marketing, business change, and both health and environmental improvements that get me excited both personally and professionally.

Not gonna happen.

Forget the fact that SpoonRocket is—basically—a rolling steam table. Seriously: let’s give SpoonRocket the benefit of the doubt on food quality, and praise them for believing that they can deliver “home made” (my quotes) food in ten minutes. Let’s even assume that because of everything else that goes into SpoonRocket’s food preparation and distribution model that they can maintain the shockingly low price of $6 per meal—and also that even though it can only work in heavily-populated areas that SpoonRocket has the costs associated with that under control.

Now, let’s leave Utopia aboard our SpoonRocket, and travel to the real world.

While SpoonRocket’s web site is live and functioning this morning, it wasn’t yesterday. This isn’t unusual when a company gets written about at TechCrunch; the AOL property drives a lot of traffic and if a story gets legs at TechCrunch and people start clicking through, web sites do see issues. But here’s the thing: SpoonRocket.com borked in the aftermath of being written about not because the amount of traffic they were receiving was so extraordinarily high, but because of this:

IP Lookup for SpoonRocket

Spoonrocket.com, it seems, despite being (minimally, by Y-Combinator) Venture Capital-backed, is hosted by GoDaddy, on a computer along with over 600 other web sites. Shared hosting is not a problem when done well, but GoDaddy doesn’t do it especially well, and the fact that 600 web sites are hosted on one server is all the evidence one needs to prove that. Y-Combinator couldn’t have either hosted SpoonRocket or pointed their investment’s management in a better direction?

OK, so maybe SpoonRocket will grow up and get “real” hosting eventually. The next issue is menu selection. SpoonRocket has the right idea in limiting daily choices; it makes preparation and distribution easier. But look at today’s options:

SpoonRocket Menu Choices for July 10 2013

One vegan dish, one with a meat/bolognese.  Both are based on tomato sauce. Not everyone eats tomato sauce. I know; I’m one of the people who doesn’t. Again, SpoonRocket has the right idea; fewer twists and turns along the way to product delivery keep costs low. The folks at FitBit, for example, distribute their Flex model with both small and large rubber bracelets, which seems like a waste of money until you realize that the extra few cents they spend on the contents of each package relieves them of the need to produce, take orders for, and distribute multiple variants of their product. But on any day SpoonRocket’s limited menu choices cause a potential customer to walk away buying nothing they defeat their entire mission. And that problem will only get larger as SpoonRocket expands into more markets.

It’s Influency* in reverse.

Influency is rarely accomplished via something so simple as singing about gummy money, deliciousness, and ridiculousness; it can be a long, tough slog through a lot of things. And as I said, I’d love to see SpoonRocket succeed. But in its current form, SpoonRocket is simply missing the boat on too many simple-yet-complicated issues. Let’s hope they’ll Contact the Answer Guy before it’s too late.

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