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Monday 8th April 2019

In this Q&A we hear from Myles Jensen of For Fork Sake, one of the masterminds behind the online dining community taking Leeds by storm.

FFS brings people together with food, with the aim to increase brand awareness for independent vendors across the UK. This is done by showcasing original content with a compelling storyline. Having adopted a youth-driven perspective, FFS prides itself on curating fresh authentic media that is receptive to a nation of food lovers.

In addition to being a content creation hub, FFS has an inclusive online platform that enables users to discover premium dining offers based on location, timing and stock availability. This encourages vendors to drive profits from their bottom line whilst reducing food wastage and for users to discover the hidden gems that Leeds casual dining scene has to offer!

Here, Myles tells us more about their journey so far, how the For Fork Sake dream came to life, what it's meant to be shortlisted at the Leeds Digital Festival Awards, and more!

Tell us about your career path so far, what inspired you to start your own business?

I always knew I would do something off my own back, I was just never sure what it would be. From an early age, my brother and I have always explored our own little ventures whether it was working with creatives, student radio or even selling sweets at our boarding school. 

We both have a passion for most things creative, which I feel naturally lead us down the path of creative marketing and advertising. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the worlds largest brands such as Diageo, Imperial Tobacco, The Suntory Group and more. Bradley dare I say was even more fortunate to be able to work with ‘Nike' on an 8-week internship whilst filming ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ (if you’re from London and haven’t seen it, check it out)!

FFS was birthed from the failure of a previous venture. Looking back now, it was the best thing to ever happen. Instead of doing a plethora of things to a mediocre standard, we cleaned up the business, streamlined, and now focus on delivering 3 things to an exceptional level.  The inspiration for launching FFS came from a passion for bringing people together. It's something we do quite well, and what is one of the few things that connects every person on this planet? Food. 

For us, food was the perfect vehicle to bring to life our expertise and passion under one roof. 


You’ve had an interesting start-up journey, what are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learnt to date?

Pretty obvious, but trust your gut. 

I personally believe you need to stick your hand in the fire and get burnt to truly understand what it feels like. I am sure a large percentage of people reading this can recall to a time when they themselves were burnt. It's not nice, but it's necessary. The combination of logic and emotion, it's called intuition, use it. 

Fires are always burning, it's the nature of the beast, but the way you tackle each fire is the true determinator. By this, I mean when we started, there was no doubt we were working hard but does that necessarily mean we were working smart? Each task is interlinked, take the time to review tasks, because by putting out 2/3 small fires, you may directly extinguish the huge burning issue that has been stressing you out for a while now.

Relationships triumph everything. I would go as far as saying 85% of our key achievements or milestones were hit outside of the office, away from the desk and certainly not over email or a phone call. What I mean by this is we have closed some of our most important deals or imperative conversations in a social environment. Why? Because those environments are where you develop meaningful relationships, you go a level deeper than just a formal introduction.

Taking a GENUINE interest in people, remembering their name (even if you have to write it down), doing your research before meeting someone, all shows and will pay its way later down the line, I promise. 

Finally, enjoy the ride. I was fortunate enough to have a breakfast meeting with Zeus Capital Founder Richie Hughes, and he said 'life is a collection of experiences’ - looking back even over the past year, time goes so fast that you forget to actually enjoy the ride. Take time to appreciate the small wins, because further down the line it truly resonates how monumental they were. There will be times when things don’t go to plan, but those moments don’t define us. How we react to them, that's what really counts. 

Tell us about the tech behind For Fork Sake.

The platform is built from the ground up and offers two primary services. These services are:

1. A social community-based system 
2. An exclusive menu interface

The technologies that make up the social system of the platform include a live forums system for consumers to speak directly and review their favourite dining places, a content hub that runs off live updates. It has the ability to earn money for influencers and build a portfolio that's based upon a tried system that provides more rewards and creates more jobs. It also allows for the businesses and business employees to directly communicate with their customers and beyond, providing a more meaningful and well-acknowledged business presence.

The exclusive menu interface will be one of a kind system, offering exclusive menus and offers to everyone so that they can try new experiences and cultures without "forking" a lot of money.

Our system, much like the business, has been built to remain fluid and dynamic, with the ability to update or maintain any outside API changes. 

You’ve been shortlisted in this year’s Leeds Digital Awards for One To Watch, which is a fantastic achievement! What can we expect from you this year?

I know right, what an honour to even be recognised! Expect big things from the Jensen brothers, we have just returned from a very successful trip in the Big Apple and we are looking forward to working more closely with our USA counterparts. Our team has now grown to a sizeable 18 people, which means a lot more content, a lot more noise, and fork ton more users joining our community. 

Bradley and I launched a consultancy ‘Jensen & Jensen’ to assist businesses with their own marketing and communication needs. We want to be able to demonstrate the possibility of impactful bootstrap marketing for those businesses just starting out.  Now our focus is about delivering high-quality original content that engages our audience. We have a fantastic team behind us mixed with foodies, creatives and techies, all working extremely hard. In addition, we have just moved into our new home on Aire Street, to have a solid base for FFS is imperative to the growth of the company. 

We are also working with a large production company, but that is still in the works so hush hush for the moment! 

What is it about Leeds that makes it a great base for your business?

I was recently invited to the Leeds Digital Festival launch dinner, to which this was one topic of discussion. At the age of 24, I have lived in London, Birmingham, Spain, Liverpool and now Leeds. Leeds has something unique that I haven’t seen in any other city, it's the true sense of collaboration and a willingness to truly help each other grow. Cities like London are an extremely competitive landscape, whilst Leeds is as well, I have found that people genuinely want to help and see others do well. You may find an investor or someone that would be really beneficial to the business, and they say unfortunately it is not for them but the difference to Leeds to many other places is they more than often will redirect or put you in contact with someone who's more suitable. 

Secondly, students are our proving ground, and to have the most students per capita within the UK, Leeds seems to be the ideal home for FFS. Not to mention the bustling dining scene that is ever on the up within the city, with street food becoming more popular than ever and locations such as Kirkgate Market, Trinity Kitchen and Assembly Underground at our fingertips Leeds truly does appear to be the Mecca for a food tech business. 


What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs looking to get an idea off the ground?

Everyone has ideas, that's the easy part. Look past the idea, to execute you need commitment and commitment requires time.

Stick to it; follow the 48, 7, 14, 28-day rule: 48 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month. If you're still head over heels and restless at night about this idea post this period, then it is more than likely a good idea to pursue it.

Capital is overrated and can often can cause more problems. You don’t need money to start a business, you need initiative and creativity. A lack of capital breeds creativity, creativity breeds originality, originality breeds authenticity, and in a copy cat world, authenticity creates value.

Everyone can sell, no one wants to admit their weaknesses. A Google partner took me back to school when he asked me to draw a SWOT analysis of my business. Clearly, I could identify and shout to the top of my lungs the strengths and the opportunity that the model presented, but the weaknesses and threats were lacking. No one wants to admit to the possible drawbacks of their business, but these are what hold the most value. The same can be said for NOs (I see NO as ’Next Opportunity’). Nobody wants a yes man, someone telling you are doing great doesn’t tell you anything at all, someone telling you why they disagree with your views holds the most intrinsic value. That is a potential customer giving you insight and brands pay millions for that kind of feedback. 

Don’t wait, just do it. I see way too many people attempting to perfect the logo, the website, the name… the dreaded name. Honestly, pick a name, and get to market. I know it's easier said than done, but get the bare bones of what you need to get to market and start working, this way you are immersing yourself fully, getting VALUABLE user feedback and learning on the way. 20 days of doing something is far better than 20 days of thinking to do something. Naturally, the brand will change as you scale, and more than likely so will your consumers. 

Hire people that are smarter than you, different to you and see the end goal. Naturally, no one will have the same passion for the business as you, but recruiting people that make up for attributes you lack, people that can envisage the end goal and genuinely smarter people will not only build a stronger team, but you as an individual will strongly learn and benefit from it. 

Finally, time is your biggest asset, by a long way. I feel the entrepreneurial life has been glamorised, to be this amazing thing that you work for yourself, do your own thing and get rich. It definitely isn’t like that and the quicker you realise this the better - you are in it for the long haul. Buckle down and give this the full attention it deserves, no one is going to do the work for you (at least not yet), surround yourself with motivated, happy and smart people. You are a product of your environment, and as an entrepreneur, you need all the outside motivation you can get. 

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