Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 15: Avi Goren
[00:00:00.000] - Rev and Eric
All right, so here we are. We've decided, by the way, we've named this, "Who's at Pizza Expo"
[00:00:05.380] - Rev and Eric
Who's at Pizza Expo
[00:00:06.820] - Rev and Eric
[00:00:07.170] - Rev and Eric
We're here with Avi Goren, the founder of Marqii. Thank you for having us in the booth.
[00:00:09.481] - Avi
[00:00:10.540] - Rev and Eric
You can see the logo right there. What do you think, I mean you've been to how many pizza expos, now?
[00:00:12.820] - Avi
This is what should have been year five, but year four. But I've booked this booth four times in the last 18 months.
[00:00:20.290] - Rev and Eric
Yeah, right! Right.
[00:00:21.220] - Rev and Eric
So you're counting like a ghost year? You're like, I'm claiming a five.
[00:00:24.400] - Avi
Yeah I figure this is my year abroad. We're here.
[00:00:27.000] - Rev and Eric
A lot of people have talked about today, yesterday and today's show that yeah, there are maybe less vendors and less people but the conversations are a little better.
[00:00:35.350] - Avi
[00:00:35.650] - Rev and Eric
Are you seeing that?
[00:00:36.510] - Avi
Yeah. I mean look, people are here.
[00:00:39.340] - Rev and Eric
[00:00:39.880] - Avi
That's what matters. We didn't know what to expect. People showed up, people are here. They're ready to be engaged. I do believe we're getting that higher kind of talent density or quality density. People aren't bringing 7-8 people, they're bringing two or three, and they're bringing decision makers, and yeah, we're happy. It's been a great show. It really has.
[00:00:59.940] - Rev and Eric
The two things that we've seen like from asking people like, "what's new this year?", "what's trending?" For sure, plant based, plant based...
[00:01:07.420] - Avi
Everywhere! I didn't know you could milk a chickpea, coconut oil. It's like, incredible.
[00:01:12.660] - Rev and Eric
[00:01:13.530] - Rev and Eric
What is a chickpea milking machine like?
[00:01:15.570] - Rev and Eric
I don't know, do they have teets?
[00:01:19.110] - Avi
Meet the Fockers comes to mind.
[00:01:21.280] - Rev and Eric
[00:01:21.280] - Avi
I'm hoping someone gets the reference.
[00:01:22.810] - Rev and Eric
I got it.
[00:01:23.140] - Avi
I said it to the last plant based she just looked at me like, I don't know guy.
[00:01:26.950] - Rev and Eric
I got it.
[00:01:27.700] - Rev and Eric
And the other thing that people are saying is there seems to be a lot more tech. A lot more marketing, a lot of more focused. And I think covid, if anything, to this industry, really just like, pressed the gas down, like, made things move faster. And I think the other thing we're seeing is that we're hearing from people is that there's a lot more younger, more open minded people that are in the industry that like want to learn, want to change. Like a changing of the guard...
[00:01:51.540] - Avi
Absolutely. I had, with a conversation yesterday with Sal's Pizzeria, three locations, two built, one on the way, moved from Long Island. Specifically talked on their shirt about their grandma's slice. And it was a dad and son. And three years ago, I feel like that conversation would have been directed to dad, and he's saying, I brought my son to help him tech. I was talking to the dad and he said, oh, no, this is all him. And I turned to him and he was like, yeah, it's my uncle's pizzeria and how are we are and and I did one as like a fun hobby. And now I love it. And I can't stop.
[00:02:19.180] - Avi
And we're going to get to ten plus or whatever. And it's fun to see that switch happen. Like eventually there can't always be older pizzeria guys. Like there has to be younger ones coming in. And I think it's fun to see both the older generation adopt technology this last 18 months and force companies like us to get more involved when we're connecting your plumbing in various tech stacks.
[00:02:44.340] - Avi
And also seeing that young guy come in and saying, hey, we're using BentoBox, we're using Ovation. We need Marqii. We need this. We're using Toast. How do we just automate as much as possible? It's fun to see.
[00:02:54.190] - Rev and Eric
Yeah. I'll tell you what's been cool. We've been sitting here for the last few days doing interviews and right here over my shoulder, you've got somebody with a laptop out and the number of conversations of, "okay, let me look you up" and they look you up like, okay, your phone number is not right here, the hours aren't right, and people were like, "Wait, how does that happen"? And we have a solution. And it's very easy. I don't know how long it would take as an operator to manage all that stuff. And they don't. They clearly don't manage it. They don't know how. And you guys do that.
[00:03:25.240] - Avi
Well, it's a nightmare to manage. I think more importantly, you know, we had a little bit of an identity crisis when we started, we're talking to marketers, we're talking to operators, talking to people with different skill sets. And it wasn't until we really realized and embraced that we're an operational tool. Right? There is ROI benefit to us, but it's people hours saved, it's local SEO is a by product of what we do. But what we do is solve that foundational issue of managing your online presence, which, if you do it right and you do it often will lead to an increase in local SEO. It'll lead to happier general managers because they don't have to go and update TripAdvisor, MapQuest and all the places they don't want to.
[00:04:03.360] - Rev and Eric
[00:04:04.440] - Avi
So, yeah. And um, hopefully you're overhearing good things.
[00:04:07.180] - Rev and Eric
Oh yeah. For the last two days.
[00:04:09.000] - Rev and Eric
Where do you live?
[00:04:11.320] - Avi
So now I'm in Austin, Austin, Texas not Austin, Massachusetts, and I moved from Brooklyn with my wife about twelve months ago.
[00:04:18.840] - Rev and Eric
Favorite pizza in Austin?
[00:04:20.390] - Rev and Eric
Putting him on the spot
[00:04:23.310] - Avi
People want to say Home Slice, it's great, big slices. It's good. So, yeah, I'll go with Home Slice.
[00:04:30.600] - Rev and Eric
I was going to go with Via 313.
[00:04:33.040] - Avi
Via 313 is, well...
[00:04:33.340] - Rev and Eric
Because they use Perfect Crust pizza liners.
[00:04:35.130] - Avi
There's pizza and then you have Detroit pizza. I would say as far as gluten free pizza, my wife is Celiac and its been the biggest issue in our relationship and Via 313's gluten free pizza is incredible. I actually had it for the first time in February. We got it for the Super Bowl. Yeah...
[00:04:52.500] - Rev and Eric
Do you know Brandon and Zane Hunt?
[00:04:53.230] - Avi
I have stalked him occasionally at shows and said "hi". It's hard not to fanboy out when I see them. We're big fans. We were actually, they use a competitor of ours, and I still like them anyway. It's okay.
[00:05:03.830] - Rev and Eric
Ah! Come on my brothers.
[00:05:05.510] - Avi
No, they're great. I think what they're doing, it was so fun to see them getting Savory Fund behind them and really bringing it all over the country.
[00:05:11.850] - Rev and Eric
Yeah, they're opening their first location in Utah coming up in a couple weeks.
[00:05:14.710] - Avi
That's awesome. Well, hopefully people find out about you.
[00:05:16.620] - Rev and Eric
Yeah. So how did you do at the show in the last few days, so far? A lot, I've seen some credit cards come out. People signing up.
[00:05:22.470] - Avi
So it's, I mean look what we're doing is a real pain point and we're doing it at a price that makes sense. There's a reason our retention is high, NPS scores are high. People enjoy working with us. And I think when they speak to our reps here at the show, they see the passion because everyone here on our team has worked in hospitality. Everyone on our team here eats four meals a day, right?
[00:05:44.610] - Avi
We know the struggle...
[00:05:45.850] - Rev and Eric
Four meals a day.
[00:05:46.560] - Avi
Oh, it was on purpose. Elevensies counts. And we want to make sure that people get that from our team. And so yesterday was the best day we've had at a Pizza Expo, ever.
[00:05:56.700] - Rev and Eric
[00:05:56.920] - Avi
Number of leads, number credit cards in the day.
[00:06:00.250] - Rev and Eric
Is that because Rev was here?
[00:06:00.460] - Rev and Eric
I think it was you.
[00:06:01.510] - Avi
Yeah. Between these two good looking guys, I can't believe we didn't get more.
[00:06:05.220] - Rev and Eric
No but look, tie the whole thing together, right. It's clear that plant based items are here. Right. And we've said that this event usually accelerates trends, right? And so we've asked operators like, "okay, so let's say you add gluten free", "let's say you add plant based", whatever. What then? Like you put it on your menu in the store, like, how are you getting it out everywhere online? And either like "Oh, I'm using Marqii or they're like, "I don't know". But like how often are you changing your menu in a pizzeria? Pretty often.
[00:06:30.450] - Rev and Eric
Price changes. Maybe you added a new cheese and a new appetizer. Like...
[00:06:34.580] - Avi
We see seasonal changes. We see supply and demand changes. Price of cheese goes up dramatically. Meat....
[00:06:43.560] - Rev and Eric
"Oh, we're now doing chicken thighs" Right?
[00:06:44.860] - Avi
Right. And like we see it all the time. But going back to Via 313 my wife's celiac, so we were Googling "gluten-free, celiac pizza in Austin", "gluten-free near me" and we didn't find them. But I had known Via 313, so I went on their website and that's where I saw it. Right? Which means the competitor they're using might not be up to snuff of what they need to be, but that's a different story. Via 313, call me.
[00:07:07.470] - Rev and Eric
But that's a different story. Well, thank you for letting us hang today. I know we're doing a talk here in about an hour. You guys have sponsored that. He speaks highly of you and anything he says I listen to.
[00:07:19.110] - Rev and Eric
I signed the check, I signed the check, ok?
[00:07:19.110] - Rev and Eric
Yeah, yeah, so if I had a restaurant, I would use Marqii.
[00:07:24.160] - Avi
Well, we appreciate it.
[00:07:24.760] - Rev and Eric
So, thank you.
[00:07:25.180] - Avi
If I had a pizzeria, I'd use Perfect Crust.
[00:07:27.370] - Rev and Eric
There you go. That's what I'm talking about.
[00:07:29.940] - Avi
Appreciate it guys, we've loved having you in the booth.