By: Lloyed Lobo
If you’re a restaurant owner, MenuChic is probably the perfect solution to bring efficiency to the tableside and ordering experience.
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MenuChic is basically a 10-inch tablet that includes a digital menu enabling your patrons to sift through food and drink selections via photos and detailed descriptions using a touch-screen interface. MenuChic also enables you to upsell, connect to social networks, track customer analytics, provide recommendations on dishes and pairings, and earn additional revenue through advertisements, all within the menu itself.
We recently talked to the founders Mathew Paul and Susheel Thomas to learn more.
How did you come up with the idea for your startup? Was there an “ah-ha” moment?
My wife and I came across digital menus at a pizzeria in Bangkok during our honeymoon. It was basically a paper menu formatted on a digital screen with no functionality built-in, but it looked impressive nonetheless. I found a big gap upon researching the local market to see what was available. I connected with Susheel on my return and we’ve been working since to create a functionally rich solution that would make sense for this market.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Finding a local development team for an Android based solution was difficult. We knew that finding iOS developers would be easier, but an iPad based solution would ultimately be more expensive for restaurant owners. So we stuck with our original development plans and found a great team that fit all of our criteria.
Are there any key individuals outside of your organization that have been of great help to your startup?
Family and friends. Being a startup, it helps to have support to get through some of the inevitable obstacles. We are very blessed with an amazing circle of influence. Aside from moral support, they have been really great sources for innovation with our product as well. A lot of the final features came from the opinions and advice of the people we know and love.
What’s new with your startup that we can share?
We recently rolled out our first client. We’re in talks with a handful of establishments and are aiming to open up at a few more locations shortly.
Personally, do you think it is more difficult to raise capital or find the right talent?
Talent. Money flows to good deals; it’s finding the talent to create something worth investing in that is, in my opinion, more difficult to come across. Any business relationship is like a marriage. It takes work to establish the synergy needed to run it. It requires open communication, trust and clearly defined roles.
What has contributed to your success to this point?
Believing in what you do. It’s never easy to go against the grain. My background is Chemical Engineering and this city provides a lot of opportunity in that line of work, so the opportunity cost of becoming an entrepreneur was high. However, we saw an obvious gap in the market and believe that we’re the ones to fill it. There have been plenty of obstacles and will be many more to come, but we embrace the challenges and are better off for them. I think the best advice I can offer is to examine the ‘why’ behind what it is that you are doing. If your ‘why’ is strong enough then the challenges become a lot more manageable.
What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship?
For me, it’s the excitement. I have a lot more drive to go out and build my own empire rather than be a part of someone else’s. I’ve been exposed to a variety of different work situations and nothing fires me up more than doing my own thing and building something from the ground up. We are all who we are because of our environment and experiences; mine have just led me to find more fulfillment from entrepreneurial endeavours.
What are your thoughts on Calgary’s startup community?
Calgary is obviously an oil and gas town and most of my circle of influence is from that corporate community. I’ve just started to become exposed to the startup community and from what I have explored so far, it’s definitely new and exciting territory. It’s a lot larger than I expected and I’m looking forward to becoming more involved.
What’s your ask right now? What do you and your startup need?
We’re navigating through fairly new terrain and would benefit tremendously from guidance and mentorship from those who have experience in our industry. As we prepare to push this project to the next level, we need three things: marketing, continued mentorship and investment. We have ambitious goals for MenuChic and would greatly appreciate a few helping hands to get us there.
Lloyed Lobo covers Calgary’s tech startup community. He is a Partner at Boast Capital and the VP of Community Evangelism at Startup Calgary.
This interview was originally published by Startup Calgary, a non-profit organization focused on cultivating the tech startup community in Calgary. For more information, visit startupcalgary.ca.
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