16. November 2012–
Going live this April, our Startup of the Week Resmio is taking on a huge problem in the gastronomy industry - how to lure customers in to fill tables at off-peak hours. We caught up with one of the cofounders, Yasha Tarani, to find out how his passion for eating-out led to launching Resmio, and how they're becoming a pioneer in the online restaurant reservation industry...
Hi Yasha, tell us about yourself and what you're doing..
Hi, I am one of the founders of Resmio, an intelligent reservation system for restaurants that is designed to help them fill tables by offering price benefits for diners that are flexible in when they want to eat. This lets guests save money, and restaurants are able to increase turnover by attracting more customers. Restaurants can set up the system in five minutes and include a widget on their website, Facebook site, and other websites.
So how it works is that restaurant owners can set up their times of low demand and the maximum price elasticity – like discounts, but we try and avoid saying that because our intention is not to give discounts, but to adjust the price to what the customer would pay in a specific situation. So if I’m flexible one day and I can come two hours later, I get a 20 per cent discount, but on another day I’m not as flexible, so I have to book at a specific time.
We want to measure other indicators in the future, like weather and other influences on restaurant bookings.
How did you come across your idea?
Basically we were trying to solve our own problems, because we were going out a lot to restaurants and I always go eating at weird times, at night or in the afternoon, I don’t eat every day at the same time. And lots of people are like that. So we wanted to help restaurant owners use this flexibility.
We were wondering why restaurants don’t have price discrimination, because it makes sense - they have high fixed costs and changing demands based on seasons, days of the week, hours of the day. That's where we step in, as we're trying to help customers and restaurants create incentives for their guests to make reservations at off peak hours. So we help them shift flexible customers to eat at off peak times, creating more space for guests in peak hours where they have a higher willingness to pay.
What the hospitality and airline industries have done for years, we're just starting for the gastronomy industry. We now have over 100 restaurants using it and we just had a restaurant in Jarvis Bay in Australia sign up!
We are three founders, one from Dortmund, one from Stuttgart and one from Copenhagen. Michael Marder (pictured on the left) and I (middle) met in Lüneburg, where we lived together in a student dorm. We met our Danish cofounder Niels Sandholt Busch (right) at Startup Weekend in Copenhagen, he's still living there. But we all want to move to Berlin and set up an office here, at the moment we are a virtual company. We now also have two interns/employees/friends working for us now.
What is your USP and what makes you different from everyone else?
There are lots of other reservation systems on the market, there’s OpenTable and Livebookings, they're both available in Germany. We are the first reservation system that enables restaurants to use price discrimination and, in the future, dynamic pricing. We didn’t start off with the idea, we’re doing the tenth reservation system. We started off with the idea that we want to give restaurants a means to use the flexibility of customers and dynamic pricing to optimise their capacity, because in the end - the highest costs at a restaurant is the service and rent.
What is your business model?
Restaurants have a 30-day free trial and then they pay €1 per guest from a partner website. On a restaurant's site or Facebook we get €0.50 per customer. We wanted a risk-free partnership for restaurants, so there are no long contracts and no costs if they leave before 30 days. There are also no fixed costs for the restaurant, they have a free digital reservation book that runs on their iPads or any browsers, they can also add other reservations that come from phone calls or walk ins. They can add these for free, plus they have an overview of all incoming reservations and can manage them, plus see statistics through Resmio.
Who is financing you?
Other than scholarships, we are bootstrapping. And we’re in talks with investors.
Is there something that you missing? An employee, an investor or an office?
We are looking for software engineers, plus sales and marketing, they’re the big three. A frontend person that can design would be PERFECT!
The question about who I want to meet for lunch is pretty hard! But I would like to meet Jason Calacanis and talk about startups, good restaurants and get feedback on Resmio of course. I like what he is doing with "This Week in Startups" - it's great education, information and entertainment!
Any advice you'd give for fellow startups?
Most people say “I need a software developer to start my idea” and so on, people are always looking for other team members before they start. I think whatever skill you have, just use it to get you a step further and to convince people of your idea. I know a lot of people that have had an idea for a startup for a couple of years and look for funding without trying to develop further, which is a mistake.