If cooking programmes have taught us anything, it’s that professional kitchens are stressful places. Equipment can fail, staff make errors when feeling the heat and food hygiene can plummet as a result. One food safety incident later and a business can find itself going under.
Based in Newry, Northern Ireland, Food Safe System is looking to offload some of that stress for food establishment owners by helping them meet EU food safety regulatory compliance checks while saving money in the process.
The company’s hardware and software solution digitises food safety and hygiene checks, combining wireless sensors and bluetooth probes to send storage temperature and other stats to a cloud-based app, which notifies staff when kitchen equipment controls needs tweaking.
As a Tech Nation Rising Stars semi-finalist, Food Safe System was invited to exhibit at the pitch competition’s Grand Final in London. There we spoke to company founder and CEO Neil Bradley, a former Michelin Star chef with 25 years of experience.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Neil Bradley: Food safety regulations require documented food safety checks. Food Safe System is a food safety compliance platform, so basically we automate and simplify food safety for restaurants while increasing food safety for their customers.
We make food safety quicker and easier for establishments through our processes and by making temperature checks, which is all done through a mobile app; then we automate parts of it using wireless sensors and probes. We developed the platform ourselves but use off-the-shelf elements regarding the sensor technology.
What was the ‘Eureka’ moment?
I’ve been a chef for more than 25 years and owned award-winning, Michelin Star restaurants – that’s why I started up Food Safe System. I got frustrated when there weren’t any real solutions out there to do with food safety or digitisation within the restaurant industry – particularly in the back of the house. To validate the idea we’ve knocked on doors, gone through Facebook groups and I’ve used my background as a restaurant owner.
Food Safe System’s app
Who is in your team?
We are a fairly small team at the moment made up of myself, somebody in marketing and two part-time tech guys who I’m hoping will move to full-time.
How do you make money?
We are mainly subscription-based for the software, and then there’s an upfront cost for the hardware.
Have you had any investment?
We’ve had some angel investment. For now, we’re looking at raising a seed round to push the sales and development side of things.
Who are your main competitors, and what differentiates you?
Mainly UK companies, one of which is called Checkit, and a few others in our space. Our big thing is that we’re self-setup. We’re the only app-based product in this space, which makes our delivery a lot quicker and easier. We’re much easier to use too and are very user-focused. And because we use off-the-shelf components we can reduce our and our customers’ costs.
What’s it like being a tech company in Newry?
It’s actually very cool! Northern Ireland is a really great place to be; there’s a lot of support here and some excellent companies.
How did you find pitching at Rising Stars?
It really didn’t go that well! I fluffed – I dislike pitching. We received pitch training but I just don’t like doing it. I think our first hire should be somebody to pitch!
What’s in store for Food Safe System in the future?
At the moment it’s just really pushing the platform out the door. We’re concentrating on business development, developing the product and reaching more people.
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