Michael L. Atkinson

Michael L. Atkinson

Michael L. Atkinson

CEO & Founder, Orderscape. Restaurant operator, technology visionary, investor, restaurant technology advisor and corporate development executive.

“I M HUNGRY” – of course you are!

We continue to make progress on multiple fronts, executing our grand vision to own the voice layer for the foodservice industry. It’s grand for sure, because, well, the industry is massive and global, accounting for a big chunk of GDP, employing tens of millions and oh, feeding us, and we want to be the leader in voice search and commerce. So, why not. Someone will and we believe we know how to execute this grand vision. 

Orderscape is structured as a voice technology R&D company with deep restaurant industry expertise and some core IP that enables us to ingest massive amounts of data, enable it for voice search, discovery and commerce, utilizing existing infrastructure on friendly terms, at scale. There is clearly more to share and absorb from this long sentence. Suffice it to say, we’ve been at this for some time now and have learned quite a bit since our founding in early 2017. Now, we enter Phase II for Orderscape. Yay!

Next up for us is really exciting. Now that we have about 50,000 restaurants with over 6 million menu items listed and voice-enabled on our platform, it’s time to gear up for launching the first and largest voice-enabled restaurant marketplace. Today it can be accessed on the Google Assistant App by pressing the microphone and invoking “Talk to Orderscape”. However, when we launch the voice portal and restaurant marketplace later this year, it will be renamed “IM Hungry”. Which seems appropriate, particularly for a voice portal. The invocation “I M Hungry” is how  consumers will access our portal/marketplace and then our voicebot will respond with, “Hi, what are you hungry for?”…and the order/dialog flow begins. Cool, eh?

Check out IMHUNGRY.ai. Get on the list to be notified when IM HUNGRY is officially launched. If you are a restaurant, connect with me at Orderscape and we will provide the information required to be listed for FREE, on the IM HUNGRY restaurant marketplace.

The online food ordering industry is being disrupted by voice. We’re happy to help.

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Michael L. Atkinson“I M HUNGRY” – of course you are!
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Resistance is Futile for the Visionary Entrepreneur

Way, way back in late 2016, when I first had the idea that voice was going to be significant, I had no idea that 39 months later, voice would just  begin to be a Thing. To call this early is an understatement. But then, I have a tendency to be early. But this, well, this was E A R L Y!

Yep, years ago I remember pitching a VC with another startup. He told me that startups fall into two classes: (1) EARLY or (2) LATE and investors hate to be early and really hate to be late. So, timing is just called luck. And, you won’t know it’s well-timed until years later, and then they call it lucky timing. One VC even said that “being early is the same as being wrong.” What an A-hole. No. Being early just means you are early – being visionary and vision is critical to any successful enterprise. But first, let’s define what is considered early. I think it’s early if you don’t have a customer willing to buy what you are selling. Then, there is an argument for product/market fit. 

Being early without a product is called R&D and R&D isn’t financeable, not since the mid 1990’s. Being really early is usually a disaster financially, because there is no market and no customers to buy what you are selling, so even having a product doesn’t matter. 

In bricks and mortar, this is called the “rule of three”. When the first visionary fails because they were too early or ill-equipped to succeed and sells at a discount to the next fool. Then, they think by just adding a sign that says “Under new Management” will change anything. That’s like posting your business mission statement on a commercial website. No on gives a shit what your mission is. Investors may, but consumers, not so much. Then, Low & Behold, the lawyers for #3, scoop up the heavily discounted, now probably bankrupt #2 for such a low price, all they need to do is execute marginally to succeed.

In the technology sector, one must have balls of steel to be visionary and deep passion with an unfailing believe that you are right; not delusional like your Mother-in-law probably thinks you are. But one also must know that the delta between viability and sustainability is capital. Without a product, that’s hard to secure. And, no one can ever know how long being early will be. So, usually, the well capitalized entrepreneur wins. And, the early-bird visionary loses or won’t realize the fully potential. But then, there’s another idea…but it’s probably too early for that one too…and so the cycle goes.

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Michael L. AtkinsonResistance is Futile for the Visionary Entrepreneur
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Voice search for restaurants

Well, first, voice is natural and easy to use, and consumers have been using microphones embedded in mobile apps for years. Then, Amazon invented Alexa and Google announced Google Home, using its amazing Google Assistant speech recognition software that has 95% voice recognition. Now, there are over 100 million voice assistants (Gateways) in use, expected to grow to 275 million by 2022. Not to mention the billion voice access points available today! This is huge and readily accessible to billions of consumers worldwide. This new market opportunity paves the way for voice entrepreneurs to develop applications on these platforms.

Voice Search for Restaurants

According to ComScore, by 2020, over 50% of all search (mobile and browser) will be voice enabled. Moreover, About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner. This means if your business is not discoverable on these voice gateways (at home, office, mobile or even in the car), you are invisible to those millions of hungry consumers that use voice gateways to search for anything; including food, which is our bailiwick.

In the restaurant industry, being found is a very import to remain relevant and accessible to your customers. Because people think of what they want to eat first before deciding where to go get it, voice-enabled superior food-centric search is critical. This is called Zero ranking; being the first and only result has a 70% chance of an action being taken. This action can be to visit the restaurant or, with our forthcoming conversational commerce portal, placing a voice order. Simple and powerful new scales channel that operators should embrace today.

Zero Rank
When you type a query into a search engine, hundreds of options pop up. It’s different with voice. When people engage in a voice search using a digital assistant, roughly 40 percent of the spoken responses today (and some say as many as 80%) are derived from “featured snippet” within the search results.In search speak, that’s position zero. When you are that featured snippet in an organic search, that’s what the assistant is going to default to as the spoken response. Google and Alexa don’t respond with the other ten things that are a possibility on that search page. Just the one. In a multimodal environment, like on Orderscape’s food-centric search new food search action now available on Google Assistant (“Talk to Orderscape”), many options are rendered, however.

When you consider how voice works, it’s clear why position zero is becoming really important, because, while you might be number two in the text-based searches, you’re getting little to no traffic if people are engaging with intelligent agents and listening to the spoken response being selected. 

Value Propositions

Increase Brand Accessibility.  
Voice searches have become a significant portion of web traffic – both on mobile devices and through home virtual assistants like the Amazon Echo or Google Home and Assistant. 

Approach SEO From a Different Angle. Unlike traditional SEO that focuses on short and concise keywords, voice searches often take the form of a query and can be much longer than a traditional Google Search. Google renders a broad array of results, not necessarily what you are looking for.

Increase Local Traffic. 
The ability of voice search marketing to increase local traffic cannot be overstated. Many times, people who are using voice search are on the go and looking for local results that they can take advantage of right now. The voice economy is real and here today, not five years from today.

The Offer
Orderscape is now offering restaurant brands who are integrated with a qualifying food ordering portal or platform, a free menu voice readiness service, and a free listing on our restaurant marketplace. We believe restaurants and their menus must be readily assessable and their menus must be voice-enabled for both food-centric search and then, for voice food ordering, which again, is coming soon. This is a new sales channel for customer engagement, search, discovery and commerce, so take advantage of Orderscape’s offer. Free is only available to those forward thinking brands that want to remain relevant and keep pace with how consumers use technology today. Hop on it!

Contact us at info@orderscape.com today to learn more.

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Michael L. AtkinsonVoice search for restaurants
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No time, so let’s wait.

I hear this a lot from operators when they are evaluating technology for their restaurants…they say “I don’t have the time, so let’s wait for when the time is right and we are passed all the other initiatives we are implementing right now, and then we will consider something new”. This reminds of when people say they are considering a making a stock purchase when the market is in flux…it’s akin to saying “I’ll jump in the market when the market settles down”. Right, sure you will. The market never settles down and the time is never perfectly right to do anything. You just do it. Or don’t do it. This applies to almost everything – diets, exercise, buying or selling stocks, bonds, real estate, and for corporate decisions on really, anything. I get it. While it is indeed another sales objection to overcome, it is a hard one.

It seems there are a lot of restaurant operators evaluating or replacing their point of sales equipment right now and also trying to integrate and centralize all their systems. Good idea. They are also looking to hire forward-thinking restaurant technology experts as CIO’s (Chief Innovation Officer), to help with a “tech-stack” refresh and manage their digital marketing and multiple online sales channels – generally, handle innovation and drive automation with an eye toward sales, cost reduction and better customer engagement and insights. All good to have and it is great to see this finally happing in the foodservice industry. But I am concerned with over-reaching capability and trying to do too much all at once. One brand I know is replacing their POS, digital ordering provider, delivery partner, rewards and loyalty provider, while trying to integrate all systems at once. That is one way to go. Perhaps this is a little aggressive. But, we’re waiting…in line…to bring voice capability when everything is just right.

The time is prefect now

I know of anther restaurant brand waiting until they decide what to do about their delivery strategy before making a decision on whether to have us voice-enable their menus for voice search and restaurant discovery. Deciding on whether to hire 200 drivers or keep a third-party partner is a big strategic and economic decision that could take quite a long time. Meanwhile consumers will be unable to find their menu or learn about the restaurant when using Alexa or Google Assistant.

So here’s my point. Knowing this is a real objection, restaurant technology vendors must become good listeners and also be patient. They should also present a viable solution that addresses the brands concerns about timing, budget and roadmap by operating in the background as much as possible, or independently collaborating with other vendors to coordinate implementing multiple solutions with the least about of interruption.

For example, Orderscape needs about 1 minute of the operators’ time to start our process of voice-enabling menus for search and commerce. We need just one minute. We have spent considerable minutes developing a business model that frankly doesn’t really require any investment in time by the operator once they say yes. So, our goal is to make even the process of getting to a yes quick and painless and then execute in the background without requiring any commitment in time. So, how about free?

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Michael L. AtkinsonNo time, so let’s wait.
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Hello 2019

While 2018 was indeed, a heads-down year of learning and developing and evangelizing voice for hospitality and foodservice, I view 2018 as setting the table for a big dinner party coming in 2019.

Voice is here and it’s going to big beginning in 2019. According to Juniper Research estimates, voice assistants used to control smart homes will grow from 25 million today to 275 million in 2023.  Ok, there are all kinds of statistics and projections from smart industry insiders, analysts and researchers, but all them them suggest the future is about voice. My personal crystal ball says rapid consumer adoption is 12-18 months away, until voice shopping and voice search is a daily preferred activity over texting and certainly web browsing.

Our plans for 2019
We begin by closing out 2018 with a first of a kind public launch of Orderscape’s consumer restaurant portal that enables food-centric search on a mass scale. Voice search for food sucks and we are doing something about that. Our team, lead by Ted Cohn, is releasing Orderscape v.1 tonight, December 31st. Food search is a start, then food search plus web ordering via links, then finally, adding our commerce engine to enable food search, and commerce direct to the restaurant via the Orderscape platform. This is damn exciting, after a protracted R&D year.

For us, establishing and maintaining key pipe, gateway and menu partnerships enable us to scale rapidly and offer the consumer a superior user experience.

Written by Restaurant C-Suite Magazine

To share our insight and answer a few questions on where I think this is all going, Restaurant C-Suite interviewed me earlier this month. The interview can be viewed by clicking this link.

Happy new year!

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Michael L. AtkinsonHello 2019
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