meez podcast

Sterling Douglass on Bridging Tech and Hospitality with Chowly

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About this episode

#59. Join host Josh Sharkey on this engaging episode of The meez Podcast as he sits down with Sterling Douglass, the dynamic co-founder and CEO of Chowly, a trailblazing  food tech company that enhances your sales through strategic first and third-party distribution channels, alongside sophisticated advertising and marketing support.

Sterling shares his journey from an actuary to a leading entrepreneur, revealing the challenges and triumphs of building a company.

This episode dives into the innovative concept of dynamic pricing in restaurants, drawing parallels with fluctuating airline ticket costs. Sterling offers his expert insights on how this approach could revolutionize profitability in the food industry.

Josh Sharkey and Sterling Douglass will both be present at this year's NRA Show, taking place from May 19th-20th. Drop by and meet them in person!

Additionally, meez is thrilled to announce exciting collaborations at the event with Made In Cookware and Tilit, promising some memorable experiences for all attendees.

This conversation is essential listening for anyone at the crossroads of technology and the culinary industry. Whether you're steering a startup or operating within a large corporation, the insights and advice from Sterling can profoundly impact your approach.

Where to find Sterling Douglass:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(04:32): Sterling's background as an actuary and why he changed careers

(12:44): Where the idea for Chowly came from

(17:08): What Chowly is and who it serves

(22:08): Why restaurants get the short end of the stick

(26:22): Chowly and first party ordering

(31:34): Should companies, "do it all"? Or should they focus on one thing

(41:05): The 11 star experience

(54:54): Being a parent and a founder


[00:00:00] Josh Sharkey:

You're listening to season two of The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, a culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, we're going to talk to high performers in the food business, everything from chefs to CEOs, technologists, writers, investors, and more about how they innovate.


And operate and how they consistently execute at a high level day after day. And I would really love it if you could drop us a five star review anywhere that you listen to your podcast. That could be Apple, that could be Spotify, could be Google. I'm not picky Anywhere works, but I really appreciate the support and as always, I hope you enjoy the show.


Hello, ladies and gentlemen, my guest today is Sterling Douglass. First of all, just a pretty cool name, right? Sterling is the founder and CEO of a company called Chowly. They're a food tech company that, well, basically they help you sell more food through third party and first party distribution and helping with advertising and marketing and things like that.


I've got to know Sterling. A bit over the years through, well, at least one similar investor and then we've just sort of started to run in some of the same circles and super smart guy has been in this entrepreneurial space for basically his whole career, except he was like an actuary and an analyst for well before that.


And, you know, independent of the, of the great conversation we had, I always find it interesting, you know, seeing someone. Who started from the beginning building, you know, a tech company, being an entrepreneur and sort of learning that whole thing. You know, obviously I started my career cooking and spent, I don't know, two decades cooking and learning that whole process.


And of course you just learn a ton when you do that. And when I think about someone like Sterling who has done that same thing, but from the lens of actually learning how to build a company and navigate that whole experience, he has just learned so much and he's been a big help for me and a bunch of other founders of just sort of, you know, an ear.


For listening and advice, and he's been, you know, quite a bit of a stalwart in the food tech industry. So of course we talk a bit about his company and how it started and why he does what he does and how he's sort of approaching small restaurants, small businesses in America, as well as he services large ones as well with this company.


And then we do dig a bit into this whole like dynamic pricing that's happening now in restaurants which to be honest for me when I hear it I'm like duh like you know if you go to buy like a plane ticket it's not gonna be the same price every day and if you don't buy it soon enough it goes up and if you buy it right before you fly it's usually more expensive and you know.


I think it makes sense. And, you know, obviously restaurants are pretty low margins. So I think there's something interesting there. I don't know nearly enough about the topic to speak eloquently, but Sterling does. And he shared some pretty smart insights that he has about it. And in general speaking, we just had a really cool conversation about this whole sort of restaurant tech industry.


This episode, I believe is airing just a few days before the NRA show, so he'll be out there in Chicago. I'll be there. Go say hi to him. Come say hi to me. I think he's probably doing an event with Chowly. He does some pretty cool stuff for that event. We have an event we're doing with Made In Cookware.


So if you're interested, there's a cool little cocktail party with some chefs and mixologists. And we're also doing this event with Tilit for utility. Anyways, enough about what we're doing. Sterling is super smart dude and has been just building in a really incredible company. And as always, I hope that you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

[00:03:55] Josh Sharkey:

Sterling, so awesome to have you, man. So awesome to have you here on the show.

[00:04:00] Sterling Douglass:

It's awesome to be here. I've been, I've been waiting. I've been listening to all these amazing episodes. I've been learning all these different chefs that you're chatting with. So I've been waiting for the opportunity to hop on something like this.

[00:04:11] Josh Sharkey:

We slack a lot in a number of different mediums. If I was being just a hundred percent selfish, I'll be honest, dude, I would just ask you questions all day long about, you know, how you're running your business because, you know, you know, this is, I'm not just saying it because like everything I say about every company that comes on here, Chowly is not paying us anything to be here.


I just love what you're doing. And I love what you personally are doing. So. I'm stoked to jump in. We got a lot of stuff to talk about today, but I want to start with, I didn't know that you used to be an actuary. Yeah. So my first question is actually, do you play poker?

[00:04:48] Sterling Douglass:

Yeah, I definitely used to play a lot of, a lot of blackjack.


Anything that involves stats and numbers and data, like I'm all over the hilarious part about me personally is I'm a huge data nerd on the inside. I just haven't talked about it in seven years. I've been more focused on talking about restaurants.

[00:05:08] Josh Sharkey:

Yeah, I know. Well, you were a statistician, bio statistician, is that right?

[00:05:12] Sterling Douglass:

Yeah, yeah. That was internships. I worked for, uh, an immunoassay diagnostics company, which obviously everybody, all of your listeners will know exactly what that is. Yeah, I just, yeah, we were just applying analytics and different statistical models to tons of different stuff, right? And a lot of that ends up showing up in the Chowly world as well when we think about data.

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