Chris Stang & Andrew Steinthal

Co-Founders of The Infatuation

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 18, 2016

Discussion

Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
Hi, we are Chris Stang & Andrew Steinthal, founders of The Infatuation, a web destination, app, and text messaging service designed to help you find restaurants that don't suck. We also created the #EEEEEATS Instagram hashtag that has been used over two million times. Ask us anything!
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
Hey there, Chris and Andrew! It is so much fun to have you here on Product Hunt today. 👋 So, I walk into SoulCycle yesterday and see from the door that you are doing some marketing work with them. It was clearly you. How do you think about brand consistency and its value when you are working with other companies that have a very clear brand identity, too?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
Thanks @corleyh, love you guys and glad to be here. I'm also very glad to hear that our brand came across so clearly to you when coming across it at Soulcycle. For us, creating a strong brand with a strong identity and a clear message is our number one mission. Without that, nothing else works, from the reviews and recommendations to the social accounts, to the other brand partnerships we engage in. To that end, we always try and work with other companies that have a strong brand - certainly in identity but most importantly in values. We try to work with other companies that value integrity, credibility, and authenticity. Things that align with our core values.
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@corleyh That's awesome you saw those SoulCycle #ATHLEEEEEATS guides in the studios. Always nice to see that people are seeing those! We are very specific and calculated about the brands we work with and try to only align with folks who are "on brand" for us if you will. It's the only way to keep people trusting us. We love working with other brands that have a lot of brand equity tied to them, like SoulCycle, Budweiser, American Express... All brands we work with closely that have very distinct brands and voices that mesh well with our own identity.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Another question in early days what growth initiative worked best for infatuation?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@neeeharika we did a lot of work on Twitter - seeking out communities and people with similar interests and engaging with them. As time went on, that same strategy applied to Instagram, which was obviously a huge deal for us. That platform proved to be a perfect way for us to build our brand and community. Turns out people REALLY like to take pictures of their food.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Recently, I deleted Yelp after being steered in the wrong direction repeatedly. What's your 140 character pitch to a user of Yelp, Foursquare, etc.? What about someone who doesn't currently use an app?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@andrewmettinger Yelp and Foursquare are great places to go for a data point, but when you want a clear and unbiased opinion from someone who you can trust, where do you go? Google? COME TO US. How many characters was that? I'm bad at Twitter.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@houseofstang 176, but it's fine, I just used ShareMeow. (Boom! We just solved Twitter's 140 character problem) h/t @mscccc
Alice Villalta@alice_villalta · Research Analyst, TNS
How were you inspired to make the Infatuation with competitors such as Yelp and Foursquare in the market space? And what were your careers before #EEEEEATS life?
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@alice_villalta Yelp and Foursquare were a big reason why we actually launched Infatuation initially - while they were certainly useful in some scenarios, you couldn't trust their POV. It's all user generated content. Lots of noise. As restaurant goers ourselves, and consumers of food related media, we just felt like there was no relatable, trustworthy, authentic voice in the market that you'd trust to make decisions for you, and we thought we could vill that void. Before we went full time Infatuation, we were both in the music business. I was in PR at Warner Bros Records and Stang was in marketing at Atlantic. We spend 5 years building Infatuation while we had full time jobs and then made the leap to full time in early 2014.
Alice Villalta@alice_villalta · Research Analyst, TNS
@schmooey That's awesome! I prefer your reviews on restaurants than reading it on other sites. It's more genuine and personable. Thanks :-)
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@alice_villalta Appreciate that. Yeah, we just try to tell it like it is.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's something you used to believe that you now see as fundamentally misguided?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@eriktorenberg that email was dead. We focused heavily and early on social, but we should have paid more attention to email in the early days. It's still very powerful.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Andrew and Chris! What have been some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome in the early days of The Infatuation? How did you overcome them?
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@ems_hodge Oh hey Emily. The first big challenge was trying to figure out how to raise money. We came from the music biz, and had no idea what a convertible note was when we first started the process, let alone how to make a business model or pitch deck. But, you throw yourselves to wolves and figure it out. I wish we had video from the first couple meetings we took, because we had no idea what was going on. Another big challenge was prioritizing. When you're first starting to build a business, there are so many things that need to get done, and so many things you want to get done. Making sure you focus on the right things can certainly be challenging, and you need to manage your time wisely.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are your favourite places to eat?
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@ems_hodge if i could be eating in one place for the rest of my life, I think it'd be Napa Valley. Everything is so damn good. If I had to pick one "restaurant," it's a dive called The Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale, NY, where I grew up. Best damn wings anywhere near NYC. Order the hot teriyaki extra wet, extra sloppy. THE DREAM.
Adam Dadson@adam_dadson
Hello! So what has gone differently than planned in launching The Infatuation? Sometimes surprises yield the best results.
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@adam_dadson we were pretty excited about Text Rex last May when we launched it, but if I told you that I knew day one it would be as big as it has been in NY, I would be lying. We sort of looked at Text Rex like an interesting experiment, but it was immediately clear once we launched that it was going to be very important for us. That was a nice surprise.
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
How many times do you eat somewhere before you do a review? Also curious how you decide what to order and if you try to try everything on the menu.
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@kelseyjensen what up kelsey. re: how many times you eat before we review. All depends. Sometimes its only once, if we go with a big enough group, sample enough of the menu and generally feel like we "get it" if you know what I mean. Other times, we'll go four or five times if it's a spot that has great brunch and lunch and dinner and a huge menu. We over order. A lot. We try and go with a nice amount of people so we can all share and sample a bunch of stuff. Want to come on one of our next dinner excursions?
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
@schmooey Yes, please! I'm still convinced I'm a spokesperson for Infatuation for how much I talk about it! I'm a little (a lot) obsessed! :)
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@kelseyjensen LETS DO IT, email me: steinthal@theinfatuation.com Just saying J Crew x Infatuation partnership would be 🔥
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
@schmooey that would be my ultimate dream, I'm sure Katherine Lewin would agree! :). Emailng shortly!
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What would be your last meal? 3 courses.
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@bentossell the wood fired oysters at Cochon in New Orleans, all three courses.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@houseofstang @bentossell Why have you been holding out?! I've been to NOLA 3x and never had these. Was probably eating beignets...
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@andrewmettinger @bentossell oh wow yeah you did it all wrong.
Rachel Lary@rachel_lary
Love what you guys are doing. I have a two part question: 1) What other apps/sites/publishers/brands influence your UI? 2) What will you consider success as a company?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
Thanks @rachel_lary! As for your first question, one that comes to mind is actually @slackhq. I really think a lot of their success relates to the personality they put into the platform, and we've always believed that is critically important. As for what we'll consider a success, that's a great and tough question. On one hand, the fact that we are sitting on here answering people's questions about a thing we've built is amazing to me. We try never to take that for granted. That said, we also have big ambitions, and a lot of confidence in our team and their abilities, so I think if we can get to a point where we're in most major cities in the US many major cities across the world, running a healthy business that we're excited to wake up and put our energy into everyday, we'll be happy.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello! I love the The Infatuation and have been using it as my go to guide for restaurant recommendation. What is the growth plan for taking it to more global cities? In your early days how did you convince people to participate in Friday Five?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
Hi @neeeharika, thanks for the question. We're getting ready to launch in a few other US markets, and have London on the horizon as well. The sooner we can be in more places, the better off we'll be. Luckily, we've found that there are a lot of people out there who are just like we were when we started in NYC - the person in their group of friends that knows about all the restaurants. So we look to build around people like that rather than seasoned food writers. We're not trying to recreate another food publication that sounds the same as everything else out there, we're trying to build something trustworthy from people who are experts but also have the same experiences and perspective of our readers/users. I'll let @schmooey take the Friday Fives part...
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@neeeharika For Friday Fives, I've pretty much just been trying to hustle them down any way I possibly can. Sometimes through publicists, but usually through friends of friends as that works best. Gotta be resourceful. I was a publicist in my former life, so I'm familiar with the booking talent game. Every once in a while, a big celebrity will start following us and I'll immediately DM them on Twitter or Insta and try and make a new friend. Happened with both Seth Rogen and Minka Kelly and they were happy to submit their restaurant picks for Friday Fives.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@houseofstang @neeeharika @schmooey very excited to hear you have London on the horizon!
Bryce Loebel@brycelsprouts
Hey guys, love the Infatuation and the recent changes to the website, particularly the cool maps! I was wondering if you could speak to the larger goals of Text Rex? Will it one day be available for everyone? Does the feedback you receive go into your recommendations/review points?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
He @brycelsprouts, thanks! Glad you like the new updates. Text Rex is going to become a much bigger part of what we do very soon. We are in the process of expanding the service to several new cities across the US in the coming weeks, and from there we'll hope to make it available to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Generally, we just think that messaging is going to become a very important platform for us as the future unfolds. The feedback we get from Rex is becoming an invaluable part of the equation because it makes us better at serving the users and readers with content that is relevant to them. Very distinct trends emerge from the data and we use that to make editorial decisions. That's also why we're so excited to expand it to new markets - it just makes us a better resource/tool for restaurant discovery.
Smith Alpert@smith_alpert
Any plans for a DC site?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@smith_alpert yes! We're actually writing reviews and guides in DC as we speak. We'll be launching there soon, and we're very excited about it. Great food city.
Smith Alpert@smith_alpert
@houseofstang are you guys looking for writers? I'm a NYC transplant who's been winding my way through the fast-casual/expense account gap down here
Best Dressed Plate@bestdressplate
Hi guys I love infatuation great feed for food. Is there any plans for expansion in the Caribbean? I noticed London is next on the horizon but the Caribbean is so close ☺️
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@bestdressplate we'd love to be in the Caribbean - mostly just so that I can move there. In all seriousness, we're really working on being in as many places as possible as quickly as possible, and hopefully that can mean some level of coverage for that part of the world.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
We've got about a week with the team all together, what is your top recommendation? Dinner, lunch, brunch, we eat them all...
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@andrewmettinger I assume you're asking for Top SF restaurants here, yeah? We just actually launched our Greatest Hits feature, which is NOTHING BUT THE HITS. Can't go wrong with any of these: http://www.theinfatuation.com/sa...
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@schmooey Been to a couple of those. Spot on 🎯- what is your personal, singular favorite? And @houseofstang?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@andrewmettinger @schmooey a daytime meal at Zuni Cafe is one of my all time favorites. I also love the burritos at Taqueria San Francisco, and would probably trade a kidney for one if it came to that.
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@andrewmettinger My personal favorite in SF is cliche, but the realest of the real: Swan Oyster Bar. So good.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@houseofstang @schmooey - if @jacqvon will let us cheat on her favorite place, I think we may be headed to Taqueria by week's end. Zuni scheduled for next week 🔐
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
Second question, when are you going to do a podcast?
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@kelseyjensen This could happen. Not right now there, too much other stuff going on. For the time being, the closest you're going to get is me talking about cereal every morning on the awesome new Insta for audio app Anchor: https://anchor.fm/w/9977FA
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
@schmooey You guys need to go eat in Salt Lake City. I swear its a hidden food city.
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@kelseyjensen What are your SLC spots?
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
@schmooey Finca, Pago, Naked Fish, From Scratch, Copper Kitchen just to name a few....
Kelsey@kelseyjensen · J. Crew
@schmooey Being in New York I don't like going to the same places twice because there are so many places to go. But on the other hand I love the idea of being a regular. What is the restaurant and bar that you frequent the most in the city?
Melina Piroso@melina_piroso
Hello! Which social media site do YOU thinks results in the best ROI for startups? If we only have time for one, which one takes it?? Love the app!
Andrew Steinthal@schmooey · Co-Founder/Partnerships, The Infatuation
@melina_piroso It really depends on what your start-up is focused on. For us, Instagram and food make that perfect magic, and that has, by far, returned the best ROI for us. It's our #1 social referral back to our website, and to our app, as we drive people all over the place from Instagram. That's us though. If we were a different kind of company, Instagram might not be the answer. What kind of start-up do you have?
Melina Piroso@melina_piroso
@schmooey hi! I am launching a charity fundraising apparel line. I am gravitating more towards instagram because its photo oriented and gaining followers happens quicker than with FB. I notice the more I pour into INSTA, the less attention I give my FB. I am just wondering if I should follow the flow of things, or refocus on FB. I havent even started on twitter! Thanks much for this chat!
What's the 1 year plan for Tex Rex? What do you think will take it to the next level?
Chris Stang@houseofstang · Co-Founder & CEO, The Infatuation
@rsiegel more cities, more users. I think geographic scale will certainly help us really take it to another level, but I also think that being able to integrate it into our other Infatuation products (app, web etc.) will be an excellent way to become an even more useful tool for restaurant discovery.