Waiting for a table at a restaurant or bar can put a real damper on any outing, whether you’re on a tight schedule or enjoying a relaxed evening out. With u.sit, Flávia Melon, Bernardo de Barros Franco and Hugo Rafael Eleterio have sought out to create a solution and bring the restaurant reservations business into the 21st century.
The u.sit team has developed a technology to benefit both hungry clients and restaurants alike. Its system manages table reservations and seating for businesses and keeps customers up-to-date on wait times.
Currently, u.sit has three products available: a waitlist system, a reservations manager and analytics. All three can be managed from any tablet, desktop, laptop or notebook, as the applications are available for both mobile and web. Restaurants manage u.sit online, and customers receive notifications via text message.
Businesses in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are already beginning to implement the u.sit system, for which they pay a monthly fee based on the number of text messages sent.
The company is now completing the Papaya Ventures’ first acceleration program along with Boosk, Dujour and Buus. It is in-line with Papaya’s focus on building and marketing single-function apps, rendering it comparable to but unique from other solutions like OpenTable and Restorando.
Flávia Melon, CEO of u.sit, shared some more about the company.
Emily Stewart: You have to balance between two different clients – restaurants on the one hand, and consumers on the other. What has your experience been like in working with and appealing to both?
Flávia Melon: With our product, restaurants increase revenue, since we seat more clients (fewer parties give up on waiting with our system). We deliver a better customer experience; therefore, clients are more likely to come back (fidelity), and also, restaurants get more information through our analytics module. We have built a strong CRM that allow us to take action and deliver better interaction between the establishment and its customers.
For the customers, we deliver better overall experience when it comes to eat out and provide more transparency through information, such as a mobile site that shows the status of their tables in real time, and mobility. This gives them the freedom to wait wherever they want and come back to the restaurant only when the table is ready!
ES: You’re currently testing the app in a few locations. What observations have you made thus far? What adjustments?
FM: Because we are a lean startup, we make improvements all the time, based on client and user feedback, observation, interviews, etc. But we always look deep into every comment before making changes, because not every adjustment serves all users – the hostess, the manager, the restaurant owner, the customer and also the surrounding businesses (like the stores in a shopping center where the restaurant is located).
The main lesson is to always be seeking for feedback, since each comment is a gift, an opportunity to do better, to go beyond and to keep evolving.
ES: Do you think that mobile penetration in Brazil is high enough for this to really work?
FM: As u.sit is a B2B company, only the restaurant needs an internet enabled device (tablet, notebook, etc.). On the customer end, although the system allows customers to be registered without a mobile phone, the system can only deliver a better experience to the customer if a mobile is provided. A smartphone is not needed since the notifications are SMS-based. Mobile penetration for SMS-receiving phones in Brazil is over one phone per capita.
ES: What are your plans moving forward?
FM: We plan on bringing more lines of businesses that have synergy with the ones we already have in order to build an ecosystem for this market. Our focus is on the interaction between restaurants and bars and their customers, in order to deliver better experience.