In a culture where passion for good eating runs so deep, it’s a given that everyone loves food. The evident shift from eating-in to eating-out has not escaped our attention. Merging Tables and Aisles, a report by Nielsen found that Americans eat out more than ever before. In another recent trend spotted in many developing countries, eating out has become one of the top revenue sources for nations.
A research done by NewsCorp, says Australia is experiencing a ‘dining boom’: as a nation. They have spent $45 billion each year on eating out and the average Aussie does so two to three times a week. Heading out to eat has become a hobby in Australia, and while all generations take part, adults under 34 are particularly enamored, spending more than $100 a week dining at restaurants or ordering in. Millennials today would rather attend a food festival than a music festival.
Catching up with the dining boom across the world, and aware of the trouble in getting a table at restaurants at the last moment, Feastfox wanted to solve this problem. The team envisaged an app that serves as a marketplace for restaurants and diners and set out to test its viability in the market.
The newbie has set its eyes on Cape Town to be its right pilot ground. And why not, Cape Town Central has more than 1100 restaurants, cafes and two of the top 50 restaurants in the world. At this juncture, Stuart Murless, one of the four co-founders remarks that “Cape Town shares a similar eating out habits like the US and has a very efficient cost of doing business”. Stuart who is a CA by qualification, along with his partners plunged into a 9- month research when they realized that most of their dining decisions were not premeditated. Another study carried out in the US corroborates the same, saying every 8 out of 10 eating-out decisions are spontaneous. They chatted up with over 50 restaurants to see if they would like to manage their inventories through a third party app.
The customers are not charged any fee for using the app though restaurants need to pay fees per guest visit. During lean hours the restaurants can run discount offers and attract more walk-ins hence cut down on their promotion costs. Treats, as the Feastfox team fondly calls it, is their differentiating feature from the competition. Offers like free wine with meals, one plus one on burgers drive customers to the restaurants. The young startup also adds that their restaurant list is curated and not a database of all restaurants. They offer additional services like Food & Beverage photography to their partner restaurants.
Glancing over the global market, the US behemoth of the industry OpenTable, operating since last two decades is also a world leader. Quandoo, its European equivalent was acquired by Japan’s Recruit for $ 219 million. In India, Dineout and Eazydiner are some of the early service providers in this space. Zomato entered the segment with the acquisition of the US-based NexTable, a restaurant reservation and table-management platform. Chope, Qraved, and EZTABLE are some prominent names from South East Asia.
Launched in 2017, this on-demand table booking app has now more than 120 restaurants as their partners. The founding team of this app is spread across the globe to run the show. The platform wants to expand rapidly to more dining out places in Cape Town. There is no upfront cost and Murless quips here “ it’s a pay-as-you-seat model”. After setting firm foot in the city, they want to expand to the US, where their investors are based.
The team does not wish to venture into food delivery as they find it to be a busy space, having some heavily funded players with a tight grip on considerable market shares. UK’s Deliveroo and Just Eats plus Germany’s Delivery hero and Foodpanda, the rival that it acquired are biggies from Europe. In China Ele.me, too took over biggest rival Baidu Waimai, and now enjoys a market share of 53.4 percent of China’s food delivery market share. Zomato and Swiggy remain biggest names vying aggressively in the Indian market. To top that all, outsiders like UberEats and Amazon Restaurants are also fiercely invading the global market to grab a share of the pie.
Recently the restaurant discovery and reservation platform raised USD 170 K via SAFE notes from Silicon Valley-based VCs including Co-Creation Capital, Dorm Room Fund and top angel investors such as Larry Kubal, founder and managing partner of Labrador Ventures. Feastfox boasts of some renowned names on their advisory board like Keyvan Rahmatian a former director of product management at OpenTable and Andy Skrzypacz, Professor of Economics at Stanford University whose research focuses on marketplaces and dynamic pricing.
Stuart also proudly tells, “We run a great internship programme and have had interns from South Africa, Italy, Austria and France. Two of our interns have gone on to join the team full time.” We believe that everyone at Feast fox should feel like they have ownership in the business so we issue shares to every permanent member of the team, he adds.