The online food industry is spreading like wildfire through the region, competition in the sector is expected to stiffen with entrance of new players. We caught up with 20 something founders of an online booking startup called YoTable based in Saudi Arabia.
What inspired you to start YoTable?
We realized there was a need for a more efficient booking process in KSA.
Its frustrating when you can’t get through to a restaurant on the phone, a problem I am sure we have all faced. Unanswered phone calls, being put through to a voicemail, having to repeat your information. These are time- consuming activities that are no longer necessary in this day and age.
With YoTable the system is much simpler, you can store all your details in your account, so when you make a bookings your details are passed to the restaurant instantly, there’s no need to repeat yourself.
You can select your preferred seating area (as restaurants in KSA are divided into ‘Family’ & ‘Single’ areas), and special requests can also be included – for example if it’s a birthday or special occasion, you can let the restaurant know from the booking form.
Plus if you want to change or cancel your booking, you don’t have to waste time on a phone call, again you can instantly do it though managing your upcoming reservations in your account on YoTable.com
Do you have a business model in place?
We are still in our launch phase and are currently offering free trials, it’s a bit of chicken or egg situation, we can’t build a user base without restaurants, and restaurants won’t want to signup without users.
This will help us grow faster as we aren’t focused on the ROI at the moment. We are focusing on the growth in the market, customer satisfaction and tuning the platform for both restaurants and users.
Which cities in Saudi Arabia have the biggest user base?
We have only fully launched in Jeddah at present, but the reception has been very positive and we anticipate this will only grow with the launch of our Android and iOs apps which will be released very soon.
In terms of size, what types of restaurants have approached YoTable?
While it is a little mixed, we have local and international names on YoTable.com. We have focused mainly on popular Fine Dining Establishments where a reservation would be required on a normal day.
What quality makes YoTable stand out compared to its competition?
We try to differentiate ourselves by focusing on more than just the booking, offering more choices for diner. We also offer a wide selection of restaurant offers and events that can be booked directly on YoTable.com, and the price per person for the meal or buffet is clear from the start.
What are some of YoTable’s future plans?
We wouldn’t want to give too much away, but we can tell you that we are focusing for the time being on the Saudi Market and have some exciting developments on the horizon that we will be able to share with you very soon.
Below are the profile of the founders of YoTable
Reda Islam is a Computer Engineer with twenty-five years experience running IT companies.
Rashed Islam studied Industrial Design, before getting his MBA in the UK. He has previously worked in the Manufacturing Industry in KSA and also owns JeddahFood, an Online Restaurant Guide to the city of Jeddah, KSA.
Mahmoud Elsaid studied Artificial Intelligence before obtaining a Masters in Software Business Enterprise Management