Excerpts from the Everyday Innovator podcast  (named one of the ’10 Best Podcasts for Designers and Innovators by Inc.) by Chad McAllister, PhD.

‘Here’s what I love about the product story journey. The market changed rapidly – you had an opportunity to help the restaurants get moving again.’ Chad McAllister

Listen to the episode or read the recap of the genesis of iOrder – the next wave for keeping restaurants safe and profitable.

What product managers can do when you launch a product at the wrong time

Times change, trends start, and trends die. Remember those friendship bracelets made of rubber brands? They were so popular with students that many schools prohibited them because they became a source of distraction. A few months later the trend was dead.

Sometimes a smart product concept is created but the market is not ready for it — the timing is off. The trick is recognizing when market conditions change and the product concept should be dusted off and tried again. It is easy to miss the changes.

Our guest, Jerry Abiog, had a new opportunity for an old product because of how COVID-19 has impacted restaurants, but he almost missed it until a chance encounter with a restaurant owner while walking his dogs.

Jerry has led growth and strategy for various startups and co-founded Standard Insights where he also serves as CMO.

Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers

[2:31] How do you help companies improve their customer experience?

We look at data first because data drives everything. Our winning formula combines these three principles:

  1. Improving customer experience
  2. Preventing customer indecision
  3. Telling the customer what to do next.

Companies that can synthesize data and act on it are going to win.

[7:55] Let’s dive into your product story.

I’m the co-founder of Standard Insights. We help companies drive repeat buyers using AI. We’re a 2-year-old company, and our market was originally eCommerce, but we had the vision of expanding to other markets such as restaurants. Last year, we developed an AI-driven digital menu, because we saw the start of a trend as McDonald’s began to use digital menus that can make recommendations.

I took the idea to my buddy who owns a restaurant, and he thought it was a great idea, but just not the right time because to use it he would have to lay off 60% of his wait staff. We put the digital menu idea on the shelf and moved on.

When COVID came along, we tweaked the platform and launched it. Now we’re getting an average of a call a day from restaurants. It’s a lot more appealing in the current environment.

A lot of companies are racing into the market with digital menus, but we’re taking it a step further by making it AI-driven. In addition to the contactless menu and contactless pay options, our menu can make AI-driven recommendations about customers’ favorite foods, seasonal foods, or drink pairings. We also provide AI-driven customer outreach through texts, social media, or email to encourage customers to order again.

[19:35] What was the customer validation process like?

When we originally developed the AI-driven platform two years ago, we allowed our sales and marketing outreach and our current customers to dictate product development. Our current customers and others who didn’t become customers gave us insights on how to pitch. When we expanded to include restaurants, we didn’t do a validation because it all happened so quickly and we already had the main engine, but now we are tweaking our digital menu based on feedback from customers.

Life doesn’t go in a straight line. It’s all these turns and ups and downs. When the opportunity presents itself, you just have to go after it. Otherwise, someone else will.

Action Guide: Put the information Jerry shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.

Useful links:

Innovation Quote

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – attributed to Winston Churchill


Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.

Curious to see the next wave for keeping restaurants safe and profitable?