Building a startup business is not easy. It needs learning and intensive preparation for any challenges. Eatigo raised this up and shared its real experience, failure and success as a startup which has recently successfully raised Series B funding from TripAdvisor with the 10 startup teams joining Digital Ventures Accelerator’s DVA b0 program which started on 2 November. The shared experience made a good foundation for each team as real experience makes good immune for startups.
Eatigo is the No. 1 restaurant reservation and discount application in Thailand and Singapore. The application offers up to 50% discount at participating restaurants and has over two million users. Its main concept is connecting empty tables with empty stomachs via time-based discount.
Khun Phumin Yuwacharaskul or Khun Louise, the co-founder & CEO of Eatigo Thailand shared with us how this startup kicked start.
1. A good model might not start with the product
From Day 1, Eatigo aimed to achieve 20% growth per month and became the No. 1 in Asia. Based on this goal, Eatigo then look at its budget, seeing how much it needs to raise fund, then prepared a business plan and then build the product that would directly correspond to its business plan. This means, a business plan was drawn even before a product was created. This is just totally different from others. “It’s a model, NOT the product.”
2. What kills startups is not the fund but the growth speed
After the idea was initialized and the work started, growth speed is the real strength that will build or break a startup and keep it competitive against large companies. Khun Louis emphasized that what kills startups is not the funding but the pace of business growth. Too slow growth would allow rooms for bigger brands and organization to enter into the market and offer similar solution.
3. Strong team with good chemistry is key
It is not only idea that keeps a company goes far, but also a great team that matters. Many startups earlier faced problems. Louise said he was lucky to have a highly knowledgeable team with great experience. One of his team members is 45 years old (and with lots of funds). Everyone has good chemistry matching. Some had different opinions but they rarely had dispute. It is a great team with both experience and expertise.
4. Trial and adjustment always
In creating a product, sometimes we have to look from a customer’s point of view, customers with different behaviors, in order to create localized products. Louise told us about his experience when he tried to create a restaurant booking website that has the same format as Google. However, it didn’t work out well for Thailand because Thai customers love to browse for information. He therefore changed and put all information on the front page. This adjustment drew a lot more visitors. His new website has similar concept as Agoda but it works for restaurants. Therefore, a secret to success is to keep adjusting its model to achieve the business plan.
5. Thinking building a startup is easy? Think again!
Louise recalled the hardest times running this business. He said that startup founders might have been rich and had lots of funds. However, during the toughest time and most of the money was spent, everyone has to do everything to keep the business alive. Eatigo also did experience such tough time, when he told his staff member he had no money to pay for their salary. This happened after he failed in a fund raising request. Executives who used to earn huge income and use fancy and expensive car had to cut down on their budget to keep the business running. He had to thank all his employees for their trust and passion for the business and have stayed side by side in bad and good times until today.
Louise had some good tips to share with the 10 startup teams (ConvoLab, ETRAN, KYC-Chain, FlowAccount, OneStockHome, PeerPower, PetInsure, Plizz, Refinn and Seekster. He shared with them how to set a clear business goal and how to make it different when presenting to any venture capitalists and to strategic venture capitalists who have different perspective for investments. He also shared his experience dealing with the situation where projected and actual budget are different. At the end of his session, he allowed a full opportunity for all DVA b0 teams to ask all questions they had.
We strongly believe that all the knowledge and experience shared at this session would be useful for all startups to adapt to best suit their real situation. Well, this is just the first lessons. There are many more for all the teams to learn throughout the 6 months in this intensive DVA program.