By CEO Simon Rand
We took a break from being Kuul – tiring work but someone’s got to do it – and caught up with CEO Simon Rand over a few oysters and glasses of the fizzy stuff to get the low down on everything KuulEats and beyond.
Q: So why did you and Claire Walker set up KuulEats, Simon?
A: I originally designed the KE platform to help me in my own restaurant. My previous experience in a different sector meant I was quite greedy in what I wanted from one system and the quality of data that can come from that. I did meet with the “Big” providers to Hospitality but was unhappy with their lack of vision and how they wished to pigeonhole themselves into one specific tech area. However, as the costs increased I realised it was too big for just one restaurant so after speaking to many top restaurant owners in London I put the plan together to build it for the industry.
Q: So you were a restaurateur, tell us about that.
A: There is a long story but I only tell that after a few beers! The short version was that I sold a business in 2013 and was unable to work in that industry for a year; in fairness I was in need of a break anyway. Needless to say that just 5 weeks later I was so bored that I became the owner of a well known but struggling restaurant in Cobham. Initially, I just had to be a big sponge and absorb as much detail as possible. I was very lucky for two reasons: 1) I had a great manager, Bernardo, who ran the business and showed me everything I needed to know and 2) I became good friends with David Moore who was so generous with his time and sharing his knowledge with me.
I ended up with another pub restaurant in Sussex so was very much a full time restaurateur. After investing lots of time and money the business gods conspired against me and I sadly had to let both go. Looking back though, I wouldn’t change a thing, I met some amazing people on that journey, mingled with many celebs and successful entrepreneurs and found a love for what is an industry unlike no other. The people in the industry all deserve medals and to be held with the highest of respect with the sacrifice they all make for all of us to enjoy a good meal out. I also came away with the idea for KuulEats and it was that passion for the industry that kept me going through four challenging years of rebuilding my career and life, all while the development of the product was happening.
Q: What was the main operational issue that cropped up over and over again when you ran the restaurant?
A: Poor data. My background was Sales & Marketing and I attribute a lot of my previous successes to building businesses with good data acquisition and management. The restaurant systems were so disjointed that no amount of money on quality targeted marketing would work. For example, when you send out an email to all 10,000 customers promoting an amazing ‘Argentinian Steak & Malbec’ showcase night and your best customer contacts you as they were highly offended because they were Vegetarian. That’s when I made the decision to invest in my own system. So KuulEats was born.
Q: Tell us about how the idea developed into what it is today.
A: It actually started as a huge sheet of paper i made by sticking together an A1 flipchart, laying it out on the large table in the Private Dining Room and a bunch of sharpie pens. I mapped out everything that I needed and plotted how all the components would need to interact. I showed it to my management team and some other restaurant owners to explain and they all said “Go for it!” The 4 years since that day have been a rollercoaster, Starting the development work, bringing in outside help from IT professionals, raising money, running out of money, raising more money, testing in restaurants, working with hardware partners as we had built something that was ahead of what hardware could do at that time. After riding that rollercoaster we finally launched in March this year only to face a full UK lockdown a few weeks later!
Q: Sounds great (we would say that!) What has lockdown meant for Kuul?
A: As I mentioned earlier, lockdown three weeks after launch would hurt any business, especially a start up. Fortunately for us, it is not in our nature to throw the towel in so we got busy building some features that we hadn’t built yet and planning for the new world with tableside ordering and scheduled Takeaway tech…. I am so pleased to see where we are today, of course we want to carry on improving but I am in that position now where I know 100% for sure that if I was to put KuulEats in my old restaurant it would be doing everything I had desired – and some more on top.
Q: Future plans?
A: We have an aggressive business plan to become the number 1 restaurant management system in the UK and beyond, to achieve this though we know we need to provide an easy to use, affordable and highly functional system. We will work tirelessly on our product, with our hardware partners and with our banking partners to achieve this aim. Our current model of offering our system Free of charge is paramount to our future strategy and with growth and scale we can also reduce the costs of hardware and banking fees. We are and always will be on the side of the Restaurant Owners, we genuinely believe this is their product not ours, and with their support and feedback we will create something that no one else will be able to compete with.
Simon was in conversation with The KuulMarketing Team.