NEVER MISS OUT ON YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT
Finally, a new app that lets you know when a table becomes available in a Michelin starred or Gault & Millau restaurant, now that’s innovative!
I had the chance to sit down with Lore Aerts, co-founder of Yeat, and discuss her journey as a start-up launching during the COVID-19 lockdown while restaurants were closed.
What is Yeat?
Yeat is an App that allows you to book a table in a Michelin or Gault & Millau restaurant further to a last-minute availability. Additionally, Yeat sends you a notification when a restaurant has a table available so you can make a booking directly from the App.
How did the idea for your business come about?
Patrick De Langue (co-founder) is also a restaurant owner and typically received more than 30 daily calls daily from people wanting to book a table when the restaurant is full. Typically, around 6 pm, people start canceling their reservation, if at all. It was very time-consuming to track this, so we tried to get bookings for the last-minute availability on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Most of the time, the algorithm of these platforms did not make our posts visible to the bulk of our followers. We also tried with a WhatsApp group that allowed us to be booked at 90% capacity.
After this experience, we thought we could not be the only restaurants with the same issue.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
It doesn’t feel like I’m an entrepreneur. I wanted to create a solution for our problem that matched our lifestyle. We are two co-founders, Patrick De Langhe, who focuses on finance & I am responsible for the day-to-day business, communication, and administration. We both make sure to stick to our vision to meet our goals.
Patrick also has an events company called Niche. We met during a ski holiday. I studied and am a licensed physiotherapist. During my studies, I worked in events and worked for Patrick until the end of my studies. I discovered my entrepreneurial spirit because of working with Patrick and because I felt that was the right calling. There was a gap in the market.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
This was a lengthy process! There were a lot of names, but at the end, there was a YES + EAT: Yeat. We wanted it to be a verb. Let’s Yeat; I’ve Yeated. This took months, but we are happy with the name.
How did you raise funding for your venture?
We have not had to raise funds and have worked with our personal funds to start.
How did you build a successful customer base?
Our B-to-B customers quickly realized that they benefit from a nice additional revenue with the App. An empty table is quite costly over a period of a year. As they are happy, word-of-mouth is a big part of our development.
Our B-to-C customers are invited to connect on our App through the restaurant owners. The restaurants communicate to their customers that they are on the Yeat App, and this is how they can be notified when there is a last-minute reservation available. We also communicate via our channels on Facebook & Instagram, local press, word-of-mouth.
How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
We target restaurants through cold calling and cold emailing. Currently listed restaurants recommend our App. Word-of-mouth is successful in attracting new restaurants.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Not so much because we always worked together. We generally have long days, but we take time off when needed. We don’t follow a strict schedule but work to reach our goals no matter what day of the week or time.
What motivates you?
Getting positive feedback from customers that use the App. Seeing the available tables being booked quickly.
How do you define success?
Being happy, in a happy place, creating my schedule, and having my freedom. To be able to do what I want when I want.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When the App launched, the first sign that we were on to something was when we had our first 1000 downloads of the Yeat app. Our second milestone was our ability to integrate Resengo with Yeat, allowing restaurant owners to be much easier. They could put a table online via one platform automatically pushed through to YEAT. The integration enables restaurants to see the reservation directly in their table overview with the correct name and contact details without doing anything else. It also allows customers to book their reservations directly from the Yeat App.
What is the most challenging decision you had to make in the last few months?
We are prioritizing functionalities for development with our budget. Also, financially we have had to decide on partnership vs. funding and hiring internally for the app development vs. working with an outside developer.
How did you make your first sale?
Having a restaurant is a great sales opener as all our B-to-B customers are dealing with the same problem. We contacted owners and staff of other restaurants to offer our solution. The first 12-15 were quick as they were part of the testing of the Yeat App in the area.
What was your biggest mistake?
Launching in the pandemic when restaurants were just told they had to close.
How did you deal with failure?
We turned this mistake into an opportunity and launched between 2 lockdowns. It was a great time to go to market to help the restaurants reopen. When the restaurants finally reopened, they were fully booked. It was great to show what Yeat could do in a short time. Finally, it was also used to get into the accelerator program Start it @ KBC.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I look up to Patrick and different mentors that challenge me and help me with the growth of Yeat.
What business-related books/podcasts have inspired you the most?
Podcast: 50 koffies (in Dutch only); Start it @KBC
Book: The Dirty Tricks of Negotiating: Discover and Master the Rules of Negotiating by George van Houtem.
If you could rule the world, what are the three things you would change in the world?
1. First, I would love to inspire the grey zone. Black & white zones are the people recreating the world, and all in between is grey.
2. Second, empathy & sympathy in the world instead of being self-centered and selfish.
3. Third, people should be open-minded to be themselves and express their opinions without being judged.
Where can we download the Yeat App?
Would you like more inspiration? Read all our interviews with great entrepreneurs on our blog.