Graze, Oracle, SAP - what do they have in common?
High margin fashionable fads?
“Graze is doing the reverse of most companies,” co-founder and chief technology officer Edd Read tells me. “We started online and we are going offline. We started with bespoke home-made technology and we are beginning to adopt the opposite.” Started in 2008, Graze has done everything considered “normal” in today’s startup …
High margin fashionable fads?
"...there are a lot of clever people at Graze who do amazing things with Excel and there’s no IT supporting them."
Spreadsheet use in critical functions is usually seen as a danger signal but it seems to be working for them.
I'd love more detail about the test mailings in America - a case study with actual data on that would be an *ace* teaching tool. Might take a few (nut free) snacks in as a lesson starter as well.
Nice to see an actual *example* of how gathering and analysing data can actually make things better. But, see next post...
"Spreadsheet use in critical functions is usually seen as a danger signal"
I think it really depends how you're using the spreadsheets. Using an Excel workbook to do all of your accounts and customer data handling and saving it in an xls file on a hard drive is not a suitable way to run anything other than a very small business.
However Excel is a very capable and user friendly tool from the point of view of actually manipulating data for analytical purposes, and using Excel with and ODBC connection to an SQL server as a way to access and present your data for particular purposes is a perfectly legitimate business process.
That noise you just heard - it was credibility flying out the window.
A colleague got into the Graze thing at a previous employer - would have been before 2010, probably 2009 I think based on my work location at the time. She had some kind of freebie then kept buying them I recollect. I had no idea about the integrated supply chain with many moving parts and the self correcting feedback loops needed to actually make it work at that point.
I used to pop down the small town centre and go to an indoor market - I picked a few things from the nuts and dried fruit stall sometimes - for £1 you could pick-and-mix. Then I got a banana and an orange or perhaps some apples from the fruit stall. I liked the local grown apples when in season, sometimes with a bit of cheese. So I assembled my lunch from what was available from a number of suppliers who did not have to mesh their processes or collect data. Something out of stock? Plenty of other stalls. Poor choice in the whole indoor market? Coffee and cake once a week does no major harm.
I wish the company well, it is nice to see a successful British based startup like this moving into traditional retail supply, sort of invading the high street. But I miss an economy that was less integrated and which had far fewer points of failure.
Coat: its not actually raining cats and dogs so I'll be off out in a bit.
This is a classic economic efficiency vs flexibility discussion.
Case in point, Talebs Antifragile/ Black Swan books. He was predicting financial system failure for years before 2008, and not because of any one thing (like others were), but by looking at things systemically.
As a system, by 2008, the major economies had become too efficient, and so far too interlinked, such that a failure in one part created a cascading failure everywhere.
Market stalls are a good example of an antifragile system, each stall is fragile and very open to failure, and this is a good thing, as it turns the market as a whole into something very much more able to adapt to changing wants, supplies, customer fads etc. It's a good book (antifragile), although you only really need to read the first third to get a grip on the idea, the rest is more involved examples of it.
One thing coming out of it is that failing companies must be allowed to fail, and shareholders should lose everything. Protecting staff from that is certainly something good, but the company itself must be fragile. This is necessary for a free market economy to work properly, or you end up with this austerity stuff, paying off debts that should've been written off when the company died.
The Graze thing always struck me as very marketing-driven, a rather contrived and inefficient way of selling people "healthy-ish"/"back to nature" snacks through the post at presumably inflated prices with the obligatory cutesy fauxcial media styling (mock handwritten typeface, pretty photos et al).
Admittedly, it looks very nice in those boxes, which I guess is the selling point. Still comes across as a contrivance for novelty-loving hipsters (or stuffed shirts in offices who like to think of themselves as such) when you could pick up most of the stuff from a shop more cheaply and more easily.
Should be called Laze.
You can pack yourself a healthy snack set early in the morning before going to the office. If you are not Lazy (hence the name) for a fraction of the cost.
To be honest, I think it's just as much that some people like an excuse to buy prettily-packaged things and have the novelty of new [arbitrary class of product]'s arriving through the post every day.
Not that I have any more respect for that either.
...more a pork scratchings kind of guy.
Personally never seen any one buy anything more then the starter pack then give coupons for.
a one point swing upwards vote for hipster nibbles.
We had their cereal version for maybe 6 months, which seemed more useful (there's more of a necessity for cereal than snacks).
The problem with it is that over time, it loses its novelty and you also start ending up with more and more that you don't really like as much as the few that you do.
We ended up screwing with their algorithm and saying we hated all but one of the cereals. As you'd expect, that meant that we got a box with four of the same cereal in (the one we liked the most). Then we cancelled it.
During the 6 months we had it, I don't think they launched any new cereals - at least, not a significant number, so the main value that Graze has - novelty - wore off.
Not for me because once the lost delivery/phone them up for a refund rate got over 25% I couldn't be arsed any more, and they/Royal Mail clearly couldn't be arsed to find out who was stealing them from the office address. Although I can't for the life of me think why anyone would want to steal them.
Now the stepson gets their sodding great box every fortnight and I'm woken up by the postie at 08:00 or so on a Saturday morning. Shame they never get lost....
You could get good money on Kickstarter with nothing but that name.
...more a pork scratchings kind of guy.
Imagine how much their business would be worth if they'd done away with the health fascist focus and sold proper snacks.
Maybe I can do a "me too" business model, under the brand "ManSnax", and a clear marketing strapline "No healthy sh** here".
Hipster nibbles? Late lamented Lester would not have approved.
However it's only a matter of time before some bright spark starts selling lovingly-teased organically shade-grown free-range boar epidermis sautéed in gluten-free ghee.
Well I won't eat anything with the word/letters 'anal' in it.
You might have to think about that one.
Everything about Graze is the opposite of what I want from food. I prefer Slow Food - the idea that the food you eat should be made with care - than the culture of "snacking". Even the name, Graze, is irritating. it brings to mind an image of fat, contented, slack-jaws chewing away starting vacantly into space.
So you've seen our office dining room then?
If I were looking to impress the share-buying public, this news story could not do a better job.
The main thing I got from this article is that the Graze office is in a smashing building on the river at Richmond in a Georgian quad opposite Facebook and PayPal - a fact that impressed the author so much he had to write it twice.
And despite him saying it twice, you still didn't remember it correctly! It was eBay and PayPal.
It's also not an actual Georgian building - I think it was built in the 90s.
"custom machines used to assemble the distinctive brown, paperback-book-sized boxes that deliver its snacks – assembled without glue, something the “experts” said couldn’t be done "
So I take it these "experts" have never worked in packaging. Pizza anyone?
I really enjoyed their breakfast cereals range. Of course, every fortnight the box arrived the budgeteer in me would despair about how I could make my own, but half the fun was the novel and varied recipes that made a nice change, and not having to make it. In the end I couldn't justify the cost vs. my usual granola.
Breakfast is a slice of pig, with butter and maybe an egg in a bap. "Granola" is the sort of stuff I throw into the cat litter tray. Weekend breakfast is, of course, full English.
All of that special best of breed integrationalised softwaremakating really does seem to push the prices up. Tiny portions of mediocre crap that I can buy on my local market for a third of the price. Give it a hipster name and a cool cardboard box and wait for the fools.....
I have yet to find someone who 'eats healthy' that doesn't just blab about it as much as possible, almost like they get their actual nutrition from being smug rather than the lawn clippings that they normally eat.
Just the other day, I sat down with some coworkers when I got in for the day. I announced that I was feeling quite tired (database server updates the night before) and they just started on this huge conversation about how they never felt tired after they cut caffeine out of their diets, then on about how much better they feel once they started cutting out trans-fats and instead ate kale or some other "superfood" fad of the week.
I never mentioned food or diets, or even chemicals or anything, they just started going on and on about that crap. Although it did give me a chance to go grab a doughnut form the break-room while they were gabbing on about useless vegan crap.
Don't knock kale, it's a thing of beauty done right, which means cooked with suet and oats and a whole pear in the pot, pork sausages, smoked pork cheek, plenty of potatoes on the side, your choice of fried or fried and caramelized. One things we Germans know how to do. ;)
you swine now I'm hungry after my soup for lunch
"there are a lot of clever people at Graze who do amazing things with Excel and there’s no IT supporting them"
"Graze has a software team of 31 covering user “experience” (UX) and PHP development on the back end, architecture and operations"
Lot of Excel, lot of PHP, no IT integration? All of this seems rather worrisome to me, look like a future dead-end... artisanal methods may work well at a small scale but are inefficient when business grows
I am a sucker for a freebie and took Graze up on their offer of a free graze (see what I did there?) and received a small pack of six (I think) small pack of food yipee.
I leapt right in and eat some brazil nuts ... my favourite ... and was immediately ill and I mean immediately, new keyboard required.
This cannot have been Grazes fault after all how can you bugger up nuts (answers on a post card please) but I thought I would not touch any more Graze snax.
About a week later I had the Munchies and found the Graze box and saw what looked and tasted like Sticky Toffee pudding so that got the treatment. An hour later I just saved the new keyboard, threw the remaining Graze poisons in the bin and ignored the company since except for emailing them about my problems to which they never replied.
Give me a Marathon, Aztec, Five Boys or some Opal Fruits any day of the week.
Dipster Nibbles ..
Come on folks, couldn't you be a bit more subtle????
It seems their operation is more complicated than it needs to be.
But I see that a lot these days. Staff is hired not based on streamlining the processes and making it more efficient, (stated goal by mgt) but in how well they can manage the tangle that is upper managements latest pet. (real agenda but hidden while lip service paid to former)
Prediction: is Graze ever becomes non-viable, the data process will become the real meal ticket.
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