Investing in Tech Has Seen This Startup Earn Half a Million Qantas Points

header founders foodini investing in tech amex business

The fast-paced world of tech startups has been a steep learning curve for Foodini founder Dylan McDonnell. The key to scaling his business for international expansion? Investing in technology that makes doing day-to-day business easier, and earning Qantas Points along the way with the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card.

“Everybody in Australia knows someone with a food allergy, intolerance or preference,” says Foodini founder Dylan McDonnell. “I started Foodini in 2021 due to my own frustrations as a coeliac trying to find gluten-free food.”

The Foodini app allows users to set up a profile that lists dietary requirements – including gluten and lactose-free, nut and shellfish allergies – and a raft of personal preferences. It then filters through the menus of registered restaurants to show customers what is suitable for them to order and which dishes can be easily modified to fit their needs.

“It streamlines the ordering process as it creates a bespoke menu for the user,” McDonnell says. “The restaurants that sign up can have the app’s data built into their own systems, resulting in fewer mistakes in the kitchen and happier customers.”

in restaurant flatlay phone foodini investing in tech amex business

In the app’s early stages, McDonnell and a team of dieticians would liaise with restaurants to get ingredient-level menu data which would then be manually input into the Foodini database. It wasn’t a scalable model however so in order to grow, they needed to invest in technology to automate the process. 

“We have spent a lot of money on developing AI and machine-learning language models that can approximate the ingredients of a menu with impressive accuracy,” he says. “We then send those ingredients to the restaurant and get their chefs to verify it. When we started, we got through 10 restaurants a week and now, we can technically process 2,500 restaurants in an hour.”

foodini cta

Enjoy financial flexibility

It’s an exceptional amount of data and the smart tech has allowed the business to scale quickly. Foodini now employs 13 full-time staff that serve nearly 100,000 users in Australia and the US. To manage its database, Foodini uses a number of customer relationship management (CRM) and sales systems, which are paid for with the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card

“All of our automated technology costs and our monthly membership to a co-working space are paid for on the Card,” says McDonnell. “As a startup we were given a discount on our CRM platforms during the first year but in one case, once we rolled over to our second year, we had to pay $10,000 that we hadn’t accounted for. The Card’s no pre-set spending limit¹ meant that we had the flexibility to make that payment while having up to 51 days to pay² gave the business additional time to manage our cash flow.”

in restaurant flatlay phones app foodini investing in tech amex business

Foodini earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday business expenses, including software programs, and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services³. This has helped the business earn over 500,000 Qantas Points and paved the way for McDonnell to take the mobile app to the US in an effort to venture into new markets.

“Breaking into the US is a huge part of our strategy and we already have investors and clients on the ground helping us get a foothold,” he says. “Being able to use Qantas Points to either cover our flights, or subsidise them, so we can meet with potential investors is a vital part of how we see the business growing throughout 2024.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Unlock the possibilities

Dylan McDonnell shares his top tips for scaling a small business, testing the waters with new technology and finding local help. 

“Make time between meetings”

“Our chief technology officer and senior backend engineer are located in Brisbane,” explains the Sydney-based McDonnell. “When we’re flying between cities with Qantas, we book eligible flights with our Card so that the points our business earns from flying will be tripled⁴.” On the way there, McDonnell makes a point of using the Card’s two domestic Qantas Club Lounge passes⁵. “The quiet comfort of having a clear space to plug in and work makes a tangible difference to travelling.”

“Use technology to scale and automate”

The business also uses the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card’s ability to directly feed into accounting software⁶ to free up capacity for its staff. “Because we try to use our Card for as many of our expenses as possible, it ends up being an efficient way for the software to consolidate our spending into one system for the bookkeepers. My co-founder is also in the process of getting another Employee Card, which is complimentary for up to 99 Employee Cards⁷ and can help our business earn more Qantas Points.”

amex card pos qbr in retail store

Amex Qantas Business Rewards

“Start small and scale up”

“I think people often have a great idea and then immediately think they need to create the perfect app,” says McDonnell. “That’s not true. They should look into how they can build a cheap prototype, using a no-code tool like Bubble, or build a web app instead. This will be enough to show investors and get them to buy into your idea because inevitably you’ll miss something and need to spend more money fixing it.”

“Test your marketing”

Foodini has only recently started marketing its app to consumers through paid social media platforms such as Meta and Google Ads. “It’s a relatively new thing for us and we’re testing the waters with what resonates best.” To pay for the marketing, McDonnell is using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. “The no pre-set spending limit¹ means that we can flex the spending as we need to and still have the security that we’ll have budget available thanks to the Card’s dynamic line of unsecured funding.”

“Find a community” 

The startup community is accommodating, according to McDonnell, who urges those in the throes of their own new journey to reach out to like-minded business owners. “You’d be surprised how generous people are with their time,” he says. “I think that anyone who is creating an app or a tech solution to a problem should find a mentor or reach out to a startup hub for support. There’s people out there who will be willing to help.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Click here for Terms and Conditions.

SEE ALSO: How Social Media Took This Streetwear Retailer to New Heights

*170,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. 170,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 April 2024 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

You may also like