The fourth annual T&T Operafest, staged by the Picoplat Classical Music Development Foundation, features the romantic opera Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti.
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American business magnate, Bill Gates once said, “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”
Recognising early on that he could not make a success of his life by sitting on the block or liming with the “boys” everyday, Lemuel Frederick was adamant he was going to win an athletics scholarship and pursue his passion to play professional football.
Forced to shelve that dream, but spurred on by the burning desire to make his parents proud, the 25-year-old La Horquetta resident stumbled upon an idea that allowed him to explore both his technological and entrepreneurial side.
As co-founder of FOODNOWTT, Frederick described the online application as an “innovative and visionary service.”
He said it was akin to being the Uber of the restaurant and grocery worlds.
Frederick, who is currently pursuing his degree in IT Management at COSTAATT said, “It is an app that allows customers to view and access their favourite eating hot-spots and groceries, place an order and have us deliver it straight to them.”
Although recent marketing efforts focused on getting as many restaurants as possible on board, Frederick revealed that a total of 47 entities had already signed on as part of FOODNOWTT’s offerings.
He explained, “A customer can log on and choose from whichever restaurant that is listed on our website.”
“They are free to place their order and once the restaurant accepts it, we have a delivery company that has partnered with us and our 24-hour dispatch team will be notified immediately.”
Frederick assured, “We see the orders that come in, what is accepted and the drivers that are circulating throughout the country. We know how to time the jobs and decide which driver is best positioned to collect the order and deliver to the customer.”
Although FOODNOWTT has been in existence for almost two years, Frederick said the business really began making strides in the last six months as they had been laying the groundwork required to formally launch the platform which will take place later this month.
Indicating the customer’s protection was of paramount importance to them, Frederick said, “The app has a built-in digital signature to confirm it has been delivered, so the restaurant will receive a notification and we will see everything online as the driver collects payment and departs.”
Wanting to provide a diverse culinary offering to customers, Frederick said they connected with popular restaurants from across the country in areas such as Maraval, San Juan, St Augustine, Arima, Chaguanas, and Valencia to name a few.
He said, “We have been on the road and working hard to get people on board.”
Operating with a small team, Frederick described them as, “Hard-working and dedicated people who share our vision and who are not afraid to put in the hours needed to make this a success.”
Admitting FOODNOWTT was in its “brand-building” stage, Frederick said the commitment to 12 and 18-hour workdays had also forged lasting bonds of friendship and brotherhood among them.
Turning his attention to the effort it took to set up FOODNOWTT, Frederick said, “Our lead programmer Paul Mohan is from India and is responsible for what you see when you log on.”
Crediting Mohan and co-founder Leroy James for creating exactly what they wanted FOODNOWTT to represent, Frederick laughingly recounted, “We had some really hard days because Paul is from Delhi India and we had to get a translator because half the time, we couldn’t understand each other.”
“Even the person translating didn’t know half the words so we had to resort to typing things out and sending messages indicating what we wanted and hoping he understood.”
He said, “It’s been long days and hard nights but we would not change it for anything.”
Revealing they had been marketing themselves at “street carnivals” during the last several months, Frederick said they were aiming to get between 100,000—200,000 downloads locally as they had plans to also introduce the service regionally.
He said the feature also provided an option for persons to place a pick-up order or even confirm dine-in reservations.
Commenting on how the app aided in grocery shopping Frederick said, “Imagine going through your cupboards and making a list of what you need to top up, place your orders and have it delivered straight to you.”
Acknowledging this service was also attempting to change the cultural mindset of a people who are accustomed to walking down an aisle and pushing a grocery cart, Frederick added, “Yes, there is the whole traditional mindset we have to deal with, but we want to simply show that there is a new and different avenue available on how to do things.”
Frederick stuck to his refrain, “It saves time and is less stressful for all involved.”
Asked how careful they were in selecting drivers who would form the face of FOODNOWTT, Frederick hastened to respond, “In addition to character references from the TTPS, persons are subjected to vigorous security checks and background searches, as we are mindful of the security concerns people have.”
He pointed out that drivers were outfitted with magnetic tags for their vehicles, identification badges and uniforms.
Pressed to indicate how affordable this service was, Frederick explained there was very little mark up being added to the final pricing structure, whose delivery fee was estimated to be between $15 and $20.
He said, “We want to have a long lasting business relationship with the restaurants and groceries that have chosen to partner with us, as well as our customers.”
“We have decided it is a case of eat little, live long so we can be prosperous as this is a quality service,” he added.
Admitting he was finding it a little tricky to balance all aspects of his life right now, the football enthusiast said he is “grateful for God’s blessings” as he would not have been able to achieve all he has up to now without someone looking out for him.
Hoping to inspire persons thinking about getting into business for themselves, Frederick said it was his ultimate dream for FOODNOWTT to become the major player in the Caribbean and South American markets within the next couple years.
“I want people to look around and say, FOODNOWTT is everywhere.”
He urged those thinking of getting into business to, “Believe in yourself because whatever you do in life, you have to believe in it.”
Concluding with a piece of advice to would-be entrepreneurs Frederick said: “Be careful of the people you surround yourself with. Make sure they are positive and can uplift you in a constructive way.”
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