I remember doing an interview for the Business School blog back in April where I advised students about the sheer number of opportunities we have here at Westminster. Time flies, and now I am back with some excellent news. I cannot wait to share it with you all, but before that I would like to introduce myself and tell you more about my background 😀
I am a Marketing Communications graduate, proud to call myself a Westminster Business School alumna. I had my graduation ceremony in July 2016, but I still haven’t got used to this “new title”. I was very happy to be awarded the Nigel Bradley Prize in Market Research for the most outstanding performance across all Marketing degrees & I am sure that one of you reading this article right now will be the 2017 winner! I have been working in digital technology since 2015, taking a product marketing role and coordinating all marketing activities for ConnectiD Ltd. Earlier this summer I was accepted on the Master’s programme in Technology Entrepreneurship at UCL commencing in September 2016. This will give me the opportunity to take this business to the next level, something which I am really looking forward to.
TakeMeOut: The mobile app that makes eating out easy
TakeMeOut is a mobile app that has the vision to make ‘eating out easy’ and started as a collaboration between Max Antoci (one of our recent finance graduates) and I in March earlier this year. We want to become the most trusted and effective way to help small, independent restaurants promote their offers during the off-peak times and reduce their food surplus whilst offering a streamlined dining experience to their customers. We are aiming to get diners to play a part by connecting them to any food left over, with restaurants listing their flash offerings every day allowing customers to select their meal and pay through the platform.
This app includes features such as geo-location, helping you to discover new eating houses in the city just under your nose. You can receive offers relevant to your needs and dietary requirements with seamless access to all the information you need to know about respective merchants (e.g. menu, contact details, reviews and price), all brought on TakeMeOut under a single view. We forecast that a TakeMeOut user could save from £1000 up to £2000 per year if he/she purchases discounted food when deciding to eat out.
The concept is not new, and we are not trying to reinvent the wheel here. The US market is already very saturated and the UK will be next with consumer spending on eating out overtaking grocery sales for the first time in history. Delivering a value-added and personalised experience to our users will be key to differentiating our business. Building an app and submitting it to the app store is the easy bit. Finding the right hook to keep our users happy & encouraging them to return to the app with at least five other friends is the audacious task we need to solve.
We are currently working on a gamification strategy to make sure you feel a sense of belonging once joining TakeMeOut; you will be able to dine out at least once a week for free if you’re willing to share “the love” with your friends. We are very serious about making ‘Eating Out Easy’, and we will do our best to deliver to our promises 😀
Getting the inspiration for TakeMeOut
As millennials, we have the tendency to try new things all the time. Especially when it comes to food, we wander food markets and unexplored neighbourhoods looking to discover new flavours. Still, we happen to be “on a budget” and sometimes, this leaves our tastebuds unsatisfied.
After days searching high and low for small and cozy restaurants and offers that would not hurt our pockets, Max and I had almost given up! Having downloaded a number of apps to help us with the latest offers, we ended up with the same old, big restaurant chains found “nearby.” NUS cards are not very handy in this respect either, as they are usually after the larger cafés and restaurants. These offers will always be available when we open the apps, they seem to be woven into our phones. We thought that there must be a better way to find out about new, smaller, independent restaurants and their unique promotions on that day! Better still, we felt it would be better to have all these offers available even during slow hours, tailored especially to our interests and tastes.
As part of our market research, we have talked to a fair few independent restaurants and we are not surprised to hear that they are facing quite a few problems – not enough customers during the off-peak hours, food-waste costing them a lot of money, low visibility and great difficulty to reach more customers around their premises (social media and family-run restaurants don’t always go hand in hand).
We believe TakeMeOut can boost businesses’ performance through a better allocation of resources, a more accurate buyer profile and an optimised discount scheme to create customer loyalty. Diners like you and I get to receive offers that are most relevant to us, and never run out of options again; and small restaurants gain full control over targeting and retaining loyal customers through flash customised discounts during their slow hours. It is a win-win solution! If you happen to know a small restaurant willing to join our scheme please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help us get TakeMeOut to the NACUE Varsity Pitch Finals!
To promote TakeMeOut, build brand awareness and generate support, we recently entered NACUE’s Big Ideas competition. This was a great space to showcase our app and the event exceeded my expectations with both Holly Knowner (Head of Community) and Johnny Luk (CEO of NACUE) delivering a brilliant contest. We won this competition by pitching our business concept alongside other creative and innovative startups. The competition was fierce, but the public believed in our vision and therefore we have now been fast-tracked to the NACUE Varsity Pitch Competition 2016 semi-final, with an opportunity to pitch for £10,000 in October 2016. And this is where we need your help…
The voting competition is now open and we need your support to reach the Finals and pitch at this contest in November. To make this happen we need to raise the highest number of votes for our app before Sept 23rd.
To cast your vote you need to open this link, watch the video and press on the “thumbs up” button. It’s that easy 👍
I want to dedicate the next 3-5 years to this business knowing that I tried everything to launch and run a healthy start-up. We will be outsourcing our development team from Moldova and Romania, and we are looking for more volunteers in the months to come. The plan is to launch TakeMeOut in the UK and then expand to Eastern Europe where there is enough demand for an app of this kind. We have the vision to operate in a multi-sided market. More information about a LunchOn organisation platform for SMEs, and an additional hub to bring the food markets and independent food stands on TakeMeOut will come in due course. I also applied for the Women in Innovation Award in August 2016, the first women only Innovate UK competition and is part of a new ‘infocus’ initiative to encourage diversity in innovation. I am eagerly waiting to receive feedback on my business proposal.
Thinking about launching a start-up?
If there is one thing I have learned over these years it’s that good things are rarely accomplished alone. Success often hinges on getting the right advice or support from the right people. Despite all the struggles you go through to achieve your goals, it’s these ups and downs that will make you a great role model and a successful entrepreneur.
Every entrepreneur needs a voice to encourage and inspire them to fight for their project. Mentoring is essential to encouraging the leaders of the future. Surround yourself with the right people and you can prove yourself that it is possible to succeed, it is possible to reach your goals and accomplish your mission.
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