TableYeti was founded in June 2018 by serial entrepreneur Oliver Pugh. Ollie, born and raised in his grandparents pubs and restaurants had always dreamed of combining his passion for payment technology &
The genesis for the business was really born from the experiences Oliver was having when dining out in restaurants, with friends. All too often he would finish a great meal, having had a lot of fun, and then the process of paying the bill would begin. Often paying the bill would be an ordeal – it would take too long for the waiter to bring a card machine or it would it be too complicated to split the bill (or time-consuming, stressful etc.) and the enjoyment of the meal would be tainted. Oliver was also noticing that the waiting staff would sometimes be flustered or frustrated too, they didn’t want to have to stand around waiting for groups of people to figure out how to pay!
This was when Oliver realized that there was an opportunity, a problem that needed solving.
The technology the restaurants were using to take the payments (i.e. the PDQ card machine) had not changed meaningfully in 10+ years. It was a big clunky, ugly device, designed only to be used by staff and it seemed akin to an old ‘dumbphone’ when every consumer had got used to having smartphone level functionality everywhere they go.
Oliver thought: what if we replace the old PDQ card machines with a device that consumers can use directly? Does that make the payment experience quicker and easier for guests? Does that reduce frustration for waiting staff? Does working with this new device offer up any other benefits or opportunities to restaurants?
Oliver built a prototype of the Yeti: a new device comprised of an iPhone and a Bluetooth card reader presented to diners in a 3D printed case.
The iPhone contains a digital, fully interactive, copy of the guest’s bill and all payments are taken on the connected Miura M10 Bluetooth card reader. Oliver built the prototype working with a team of engineers he had met in Macedonia during his travels for the Swiss Government. (This team, GSix, still work with TableYeti, their company are shareholders in the business, too).
With a working prototype, Ollie needed a restaurant to test with. With a friend, Tom Allin, they started to contact restaurants around London, and they spoke with Dr Johnny Drain via Instagram. Johnny was connected with the restaurant Cub Lyan in Hoxton and put Oliver and Tom in touch. In March 2019, Cub agreed to trial TableYeti, and we had our first customer…
The launch was quite a complicated process. As with any brand new software product, the working prototype had a significant number of bugs. Oliver ended up sitting at Cub for every service they did for 6 weeks. He was providing direct support to the team and often live-fixing bugs as service went.
After 6 weeks, the Yeti device was working smoothly for days at a time, and there was limited any need for customer support – it was time to find our next client…
Over the following 6 months, TableYeti launched in another 8 restaurants and learned a lot about our product, the process paying and the business of restaurants each time. The product was continually revised and updated, and we applied for pending patent status for one of our features – a smart way to pull data from ePOS systems that don’t have open APIs.
The volume of payment transactions TableYeti was processing had increased substantially with over £500k worth of transactions having being processed in December 2019.
Three of the restaurant partners decided not to extend their trial, and so we finished the year with 6 paying clients.
Despite losing three clients, we had learned some fascinating things about the business:
1. guests at restaurants loved the concept. Early on, we built into the device away to get guest feedback at the same time they were paying. Over 4000+ have filled this out by March 2020, with 84% confirming that TY was a substantial improvement on paying in restaurants. Trustpilot feedback also confirms this sentiment. People were also coming up to Oliver in person to show their enthusiasm.
2. guests tip more with TableYeti! Each of our live restaurants was collecting around 10% more service charge, every shift!
3. there are lots of other services on top of payments we can provide with the Yeti device. i.e. collecting guest feedback about the meal was invaluable for restaurants (we present NPS scores in a dashboard for them to review.)
4. We have a flexible revenue model. At the start, we were just charging restaurants a ‘set-up fee’ per device to install and then an ongoing monthly SaaS fee. Now we can also partner with an ‘ISO’ to receive a cut of all credit transactions. We also have a leasing arrangement with a hardware supplier meaning the cost of ‘set-up’ is spread out over many months.
All of this is also achieved by having a massively positive impact on the environment! TableYeti completely removes the need for paper receipts which are covered in BPA plastics.
On top of signing new restaurants, we also used 2019 to raise two small rounds of funding and start an advisory board:
- In May of 2019, we raised a small friends and family round of funding.
- In December 2019, we raised a pre-seed round from established Angel Investors – a team of people who have successfully grown and sold internet businesses, hospitality businesses and also one or two famous musicians.
- Our advisory board comprises experts in our space: Nick Telson, Christopher Delacroix and Andy Evans.
After raising the pre-seed round in December 2019 TableYeti set its focus on growing to 50 restaurants by June 2020 and then using this growth trajectory, and further understanding of sales processes and go-to-market to raise a seed round of £1m+
Last, but by no means least, we also welcomed one more team member to the TableYeti. Nicky Peck joined the company from Tesla. Nicky currently handles all restaurant relationships from sales to customer success.
2020 started well, we grew to 11 restaurants and had another 7 confirmed to go live when COVID hit. We had good consumer feedback (as above) and had momentum; each new restaurant we launched gave us extra visibility to the industry and generated leads for the business.
We were looking to hire into two open roles: A Growth Marketer and Operations Executive to support internal processes around getting clients live.
As soon as COVID hit, it was clear that the restaurant industry would be disproportionately affected.
All of our restaurants closed and TableYeti paused charges (SaaS fees) to them, meaning no revenue for the business.
Luckily we had the majority of our pre-seed round still in the bank and very low overheads. We are well-positioned to wait out the crisis.
We have been using this time to work on projects (technical features, integrations with partners, hardware design etc.) that will mean that TableYeti is a stronger position as a product, at the end of the crisis than at the beginning of it.
The support from our investors has been phenomenal, and we have subsequently raised small internal investment round to be able to continue investing in critical projects during the lockdown.
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