Millennials love the experience and convenience of dining out: According to a 2019 study, about 54% of them would eat out at least three times a week. But despite the apparent business opportunity it presents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the market has not seen any significant technology-driven disruption yet, Mohd Wassem, founder and CEO of Easy Eat, told Tech in Asia.
Easy Eat is a Singapore-based startup that uses AI to personalize and reward users’ dining experiences. It just announced it has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-Series A funding from Bala Chandra, managing partner of India-based Vernalis Capital, his family office, and five other angel investors.
According to Wassem, there is a significant disconnect between customers and restaurants, which hinders the latter from providing better service. “We are bridging that gap,” Wassem said. “There are a few [startups] who are seriously trying to address it, but most of them are either addressing delivery issues or the backend of the restaurants.” He added that no one is focusing on the customers.
Wassem, who had founded the Saif Partners-backed Bobble, launched Easy Eat last year with Rhythm Gupta, Abdul Khalid, Akshay Chauhan, and Alok Ranjan. The startup offers a web-based app that digitizes all customer-facing interactions in restaurants, from menu browsing, ordering, and tracking to making payments. It also suggests customization options based on user preferences and history.
“The more a user uses Easy Eat’s AI tech, the more personalized it gets,” said Wassem. “Imagine the app taking care of your dining preferences, allergies, calories, [and] the best payment options, and rewarding you for loyalty without any extra effort.”
The startup’s solution, which is still in private beta mode, also automatically generates sales and daily business reports for restaurants.
With the new investment, the company plans to further develop its AI capabilities, build partnerships, and launch the product in May. Wassem also disclosed that the startup has already signed up tens of restaurants for the platform’s launch.
Vernalis Capital’s Chandra was the first investor in Wassem’s previous venture. The Covid-19 pandemic convinced him to back Wassem’s second business, as he believes the world will see a large-scale tech adoption in the industry. “Restaurant offerings, from ordering to payments to service delivery, will all go contactless,” Chandra predicted.
Wassem agreed with this, saying that the most affected restaurants by the ongoing global crisis are those with no data or analytics capabilities. “Restaurants who would continue in the same model will find it difficult to be sustainable,” he said.
With offices in Malaysia and India, Easy Eat has an ambitious plan to transform restaurants into tech companies. It intends to launch in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines this year. “Our focus for the next few years is going to be Southeast Asia,” Wassem said. “In all likelihood, we shall be profitable in a year’s time.”
This article first appeared in Tech in Asia.