Eat provides diners in Dubai with a restaurant discovery and real-time reservations app that lets them explore only the very best eateries in the Emirate and then make a booking all through their smart phone. Restaurant profiles include menus, photo galleries, suggestions, reviews and descriptions, while the available time slots are updated in real-time through a synchronization with software utilised by the actual restaurants themselves. The start-up originally started in the Kingdom of Bahrain and we recently expanded to Dubai to compete with the regional and international players; the main difference is that we are a locally grown, locally funded and locally minded start-up who is trying to make long term changes to the way diners can interact with restaurants in the GCC.
What or who is the inspiration behind your start-up?
We were tired of making restaurant reservations that kept going wrong! It just kept happening to us. Quite regularly restaurants seemed too busy to answer the phone, which was a problem in itself, or their website’s online reservation feature would not work properly. Then when a reservations was placed, it would regularly result in all sorts of issues occurring, including booking timings being incorrect, reservations that just would not exist or were never processed, important information such as birthdays or anniversaries would not be recorded. On other occasions a restaurant would not know if they could accommodate us and would tell us they would call us back in 2 minutes, only to never contact us again! So we wanted to create a product that would be super reliable in terms of placing reservations, and also let diners get inspiration for their next fine-dining meal, all run by a small, local and in-house team.
Tell us why your business is the “best thing since sliced bread”.
The idea itself is not new! There are many companies that do (almost) the same thing as us; Zomato, Quandoo, ReserveOut. The big difference is that we are a local idea, funded by local investors, and want to keep it as local as possible. Our technology and interfaces is completely orientated on feedback that we get from a local audience, which has resulted in some different types of functionality and navigation options when compared to other reservation apps. We feel that this constant focus on optimising our user experience for the GCC will have a strong long term impact in the future, and will ultimately result in a product that has developed and caters to exactly what our local audience wants!
Who is your hero in the restaurant business – the one that you aspire to be?
There are some fantastic examples of regional entrepreneurialism in the food & beverage industry taking place in the GCC at the moment. One of the most inspirational is Abdulaziz Al Loughani, who invested in Talabat, now a regional house-hold name and one of the most popular and most used apps, back in 2007 when it was still a small, local company that had a great idea but was struggling to truly capitalize on it. Through dedication and a lot of hard work he turned the company around, going from 200 orders a day to being cash-flow positive by 2009, and today generates over 25,000 daily page views, has more than 400,00 registered users and has processed over 8 million overs to date. Talabat was recently acquired by Rocket Internet for $170 million, the largest MENA tech acquisition since Maktoob. Now that is a success story!
What (lessons) have you learnt along the way that you would like to share with other foodpreneurs?
Just because we live in the Middle East doesn’t mean we should expect things not to an international standard. Many developed countries including much of Europe, the USA and Australia are completely revamping the way diners interact with restaurants. Why shouldn’t we be a part of that movement? Dubai is a modern, fast-paced city and has so much to offer, and yet we are just not up to scratch compared to other international cities when it comes to making reliable fine-dining reservations. Let’s change that!
EatApp | www.eatapp.co
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[Images provided by Eat]