Dishing up diversity and culture with Mr Yum

By Colleen Gao | Marketing manager at

TLDR: The best candidates are found when you’re not looking. Build authentic relationships with people.

You’re sitting in a restaurant, menu in hand. You’re skimming through and you think to yourself…

I wish I could see what this dish looked like… I wonder how big is it? Also, what the heck is pecorino pepato…?

All this spice on the menu, it’s making you think twice. Palms are sweaty. Knees weak. Arms feel heavy. You wish they had your moms spaghetti. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration… But it’s not an exaggeration that you order the same thing — every single damn time, am I right? So you get that smashed avo, cause you know it’s going to be good.

Then another waiter walks past with something that looks incredible. Your mouth starts watering and a pang of jealousy hits you in the guts, where you know that meal should be instead. This FOMO is real.

Well, what if we told you there’s a new startup that can take away your ordering anxieties and encourage you to dine out of your comfort zone? It can even explain to you what pecorino pepato is, not just in English, but in other languages too.

This may sound too fancy for your tastebuds. But we promise this startup will more than satisfy your appetite.

Say hello to Mr Yum. The new way to read menus.

All you have to do is head to one of Mr Yum’s participating restaurants, take a photo of the QR code or type in the URL on the printed menu and voila! Bon appétit. There you’ll find Mr Yum’s mobile menu, chock-full of photos of delicious dishes, ingredient definitions, language translations and dietary filtering. This goes beyond GF, V and VE.

Welcome to the world of inclusive menus!

So who’s the genius behind Mr Yum?

Meet Kim Teo. CEO, co-founder, and absolute girlboss.

🤖 Where did the idea come from and what made you think it would work?

💁 Kim: I had the idea about 12 months ago, sifting through photos on Instagram because I was struggling to decide what to order. I thought it was a great idea it but it didn’t get an overwhelming amount of support, or I didn’t explain it well (probs that), so it just sat there as an idea. It wasn’t until Kerry (now one of the co-founders) said to me one day,

I can’t stop thinking about it, let’s give it a go. So we did.

🤖 Finding great co-founders can so hard! It’s like finding your business soulmate. So how did you meet Kerry?

💁 Kim: Very random story actually… I hit her up for some prizes while she was working at Matchbox a few years ago as I wanted to run a competition for my previous startup, Neighbour Flavour.

When we sat down to chat, she asked some really interesting questions about the business and I got the vibe that she was personally interested. We had a 4 hour dinner the second time we met, and then she just started helping me out. Eventually, it got to a point where I was like, I don’t want to do this without you! One of my biggest tips would be…

Find someone who asks interesting curious questions about the business, about how they can help and starts adding value.

Kerry didn’t talk about salary or equity in the early days, it was always about how she could deliver value and grow the business.

🤖 Amen to that. Speaking of growth, any advice for startups who want to build their dream team and maintain that culture as they scale?

💁 Kim: We’re lucky that there’s already quite an established culture at Mr Yum because we’ve been a family for years. I’m a true believer that culture is formed on day one, before you’ve even realised it.

Your first few hires are crucial because those team members help you build the ‘culture mold’

Then as you bring on new employees, there will be an established culture already there and it’ll keep growing from there. We’re very protective of our culture. It’s really important to us so if something isn’t feeling right, everyone’s got the right to say something and we will all work on fixing it.

We use 15 five as a tool to help us manage team feedback which has provided us with heaps of value. You can also integrate it with Slackand the team can give each other public high-fives 👋 for doing epic things, or just saying thanks for taking the bins out, and everyone in the team is aware of it which boosts team morale.

We haven’t gotten to scale yet, but we believe that if we keep by prioritizing the importance of our culture, we’ll be able to protect it for when we do.

🤖 On the topic of growing culture in teams, diversity comes into mind. Out of curiosity, why did you choose to put gender (Mr) in the name?

💁 Kim: Names are so tough! We were brainstorming places that we love to go and we love this restaurant in Melbourne called Mr Miyagi. Mr Yum is going to grow into a personalised dining recommendation tool so we loved the idea of humanising our tech, and the notion of having a character to represent it. The domain name was available so we went for it.

We’ve had people ask us if we’re worried about receiving backlash for the genderisation of Mr Yum which is crazy because most AIassistants/helper tech platforms are named after females (e.g. Alexa, Siri). We’ve gone against the norm and used a man.

To us, diversity goes way beyond just gender.

Two-thirds of our co-founders are females and our entire sales team started off as an all-female team which totally worked in our favour.

For us, we believe the ‘perfect person’ is right down the middle. Gender is one thing but we like to talk about energies at Mr Yum. You can be a female but have a male dominant energy and vice versa. 

When we talk about diversity, we actually talk about neutrality so it doesn’t really matter what your gender is, it’s more about finding a balance and being the best of both worlds.

🤖 Diversity is all about appreciating differences so it’s great to see that being looked at from a different point of view. Last question! Any advice for those out there also trying to build their business?

💁 Kim: Surround yourself with people who believe in you!

You have 100% control over who you surround yourself with so make sure they are people who build you up and support you.

And don’t be afraid to fail. Just give it a go. Ask for help. You never know what’ll happen.

Hungry for more?

Find out more about Mr Yum here…