In December 2015, Brooklyn Earick launched Phoodie, the next big food-based social media app. Spoon got the chance to sit down with Earick to discuss the app and its development process. My discussion with Earick taught me two very important lessons:
1. You must get the Phoodie app ASAP.
2. If you want to do something, then you better just do it.
The app allows you to share photos of food and drinks that you make or eat at a restaurant. You can attach a recipe to a photo or use the description box to explain what it is and where you got it.
You can then follow other people and restaurants to see what pictures they post. If you want to save a photo to your profile, just swipe right (because finding delicious food is clearly more important than meeting attractive people).
I know you’re already pumped to go download Phoodie, which is currently available on the app store, but before you do, make sure to check out the Earick’s story behind the whole thing.
Spoon: How would you describe the Phoodie app?
Brooklyn Earick: My goal was to create one place for all things food and drink – where you could easily search for restaurants and recipes, both nearby and worldwide – and then with a simple swipe to the right, save anything you wanted to try for later.
Spoon: What differentiates Phoodie from other food-based social media, like FoodSpotting?
BE: I would say the answer is two-fold. We offer all things food, not just restaurant or dish reviews, but recipes for home cooked meals as well. So you can use Phoodie while out and about, or at home. Also, we don’t have any type of rating system, so everything that is shared is done so with a very positive vibe.
Spoon: In your opinion, what makes someone a foodie?
BE: To me a foodie is someone who genuinely enjoys the experience of eating, and has a thirst for knowledge of food – where it came from, how it was prepared, etc. – and then can articulate that experience to others. Kind of like what a sommelier is to wine, the foodie is to food.
Spoon: What inspired you to create the Phoodie app?
BE: I was inspired to create Phoodie by a lot of my time spent traveling in the music world. I always loved enjoying local food with local people, even if we didn’t speak the same language. In the science and engineering worlds you often hear that “math is the only universal language.”
Well, I’ve met lots of people that don’t like math, but I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like food. It truly brings people together, and I wanted Phoodie to be a very positive place where people from all over the world could connect and collaborate through food and drink.
— phoodie (@PhoodieLife) January 22, 2016
Spoon: So how did you go from the music world to app development?
BE: My path to app development is about as random as you can get. I spent the better part of a decade as a DJ and music producer. I’ve played shows all over the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Europe, from LA to NYC to London to Ibiza. I’m very fortunate to have done that for as long as I did, but I was definitely burnt out towards the end.
So I hung up the headphones, moved to San Francisco and landed an internship at NASA Ames as an electrical engineer in the small spacecraft division. NASA is where I was first exposed to computer programming. I quickly realized how powerful it was, and loved the fact that if you had an idea, you could open your computer and start it right away. So I started taking online courses for both coding and design, reading books and brainstorming ideas.
Spoon: Getting an internship at NASA is pretty sweet. How did you manage to land that?
BE: You can apply for ‘NASA Social’ events and if selected, go see some of the inner workings of NASA of NASA missions. I got selected for one and showed up with a stack of resumes, and was probably really annoying to nearly everyone I met. One person named Bruce White who also had a music background gave me a chance to come in, unpaid, and prove myself – so that’s what I did! I’m forever grateful to Bruce and the chance he gave me.
— phoodie (@PhoodieLife) December 29, 2015
Spoon: When did Phoodie come into play and how was it developed?
BE: I first came up with the idea for Phoodie in December 2014, and formed the company in February of 2015. I finished the first version in July 2015, started testing it with family and friends, got some really amazing feedback, and decided that I was at the point where I knew I needed help if this was going to be done right.
I brought on my current business partner, Jeffrey Nicolai, who is COO and General Counsel, and we hired a company in SF called The Soap Collective to polish things up. They have done an incredible job and Phoodie would not be what it is without them.
— phoodie (@PhoodieLife) February 3, 2016
Spoon: How has Phoodie done so far?
BE: The growth has been incredible! We haven’t even really done a “proper launch.” No press whatsoever, less than three months old, and we have 15k downloads. It’s all just been done guerilla marketing-style through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The best part to me has been seeing the community grow and interact with each other. Strangers sharing recipes, making each other’s recipes, adding their own twist and then tagging them in it.
Spoon: What advice would you give to someone who has an idea like Phoodie but might not be sure how to execute it or be scared it might not work?
BE: Again, to feed off my last answer, map out a solid plan of how you can achieve it. Don’t know how to code? Learn. The learning curve for me was pretty steep, but if you don’t quit, you’ll get it eventually. The only way you’ll fail is if you stop.
That being said, I would not recommend starting anything software related without having some sort of basic knowledge of how it works. I can’t imagine trying to run Phoodie with zero knowledge of programming and ux/ui design. So just go for it! If it doesn’t work, open your laptop and start something else.