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StartupGrownup

We had a fantastic evening with Andy Batty, General Manager of onefinestay where he spoke at dinner about taking a company from start-up to grown-up. (Read the #AfterDinnerRoundup here.)

What limits start-ups is a perception that a shortage of funds is the problem.

Here’s Andy’s top tips for start-ups:

  1. Create an employee brand as well as a company brand.
  2. You need to try to keep your staff… Start ups often recruit then cull as money runs out but acting like this means you lose your skill and talent, creating a culture of fear of job loss.
  3. Go for the minimum level to prove your concept; avoid paralysis through perfection. Invest in tech but do it cheaply.
  4. For tech, only build in-house what is totally necessary. Try to work with what is already available.
  5. Don’t break the brand.  With hindsight, the team at Tough Mudder realised they’d expanded too quickly and that affected cash flow. This meant when they entered the German market, they had a limited product in order to save money. This in turn impacted the customers’ experience which essentially ‘broke’ the brand concept.
  6. Both Tough Mudder and onefinestay use the Net Promoter score as they’re both customer-focused. It is key to any customer-specific business. A high Net Promoter score drives repeat business. Use this!
  7. Have a strong brand. Think Tough Mudder’s Orange Headbands. Understand what your customer wants.
  8. Understand what your customers are willing to pay for. Make sure everything is of value and is really what the customer wants. (They may think they want it but will they if you take it away?)
  9. Employ People Managers. Make sure your people can see a career path; accept that staff won’t be there forever as people don’t have a ‘career for life’ anymore. Good people managers are game changers. They save money. They keep the work force happy and improve quality.
  10. It is better to have 100 people who love you and they will tell everyone else. One person will tell 10 people about a bad experience. One person will only tell one person if it was a good experience. Look after your first 100 customers. (TC Editor: Although social media takes this concept to a whole new level!)
  11. Have amazing customer service and satisfaction. The turning point for onefinestay was when AccorHotels came along and they needed to buy us because they realised we had fab customer service and satisfaction. And an amazing brand, of course.
  12. Control and management. You need this. You need checks and balances. Ensure you have clear KPIs. onefinestay takes smart decisions about cost cutting and demonstrated to AccorHotels that we had the right people and the right expansion plan.
  13. Have two important guidelines and principles to operate by. For onefinestay, they are:
    - How would you want your grandma treated if she was a customer?
    - How would you want your friend’s house treated?

For more tips and tricks from our speakers, check out our top tips blogs. Although, nothing beats meeting our speakers in person – so come join us for dinner!

Screenshot 2016-07-06 15.25.31  This week we had the pleasure of Andy Batty, London’s General Manager of onefinestay speak at our latest travel and hospitality dinner. Dining in the private room at Jamie’s Italian on Denman Street, Andy’s fellow diners chatted about the process of taking a business from start-up to grown up.

Coming from an entrepreneurial family, it came as no surprise that Andy would delve into the world of startups. After a short stint in the army, where he learned valuable people leadership skills, Andy embarked on a career in running operations with Mars. Following a big organisation design change he orchestrated in order to make the business more efficient, Andy started an online business for Mars that created and delivered personalised chocolates to its consumers. After running the pilot for a year, he moved on to AnyJunk, then Tough Mudder before arriving at onefinestay, starting as the Operations Director before becoming the General Manager.

Screenshot 2016-07-06 15.25.41At onefinestay, they’ve pioneered a hospitality brand that gives guests the chance to stay in a distinctive home while the owner is out of town. Each home is prepared to 5 star standards, every guest is shown around, has the access to a 24 hour concierge and is provided with an iPhone that comes pre-loaded with all the info about the house. If you’re thinking it sounds like a complex logistical challenge – you’re not far wrong.

We have a complicated business model that covers 100 sq miles of London. Everything is bespoke. Each home is unique; Each house is vetted and provided as a product. We have over 6,000 sets of keys, 1,000 home owners, 10K+ of guests, and 250+ London staff alone.

After recently announcing their strategic deal with AccorHotels, Andy spoke extensively about how to overcome certain limitations of a startups – read all about it here.

Special thanks to Andy Batty for speaking, he was joined by: Dark Blue, Localoids, MyFriendsRoom, velocity, Unocodrinks, Sauce Communications, Inn Style, and Accomplish Financial among others.

Looking to network with your peers and hear from experts in their field? Why not join us for dinner?

 

 

ofsWe love the breadth of options now available to people in the travel and hospitality industry, including those provided by the pioneering hospitality brand, onefinestay. If you don’t know them already, they give guests the chance to stay in distinctive homes while the owner is out of town.

With onefinestay’s recent announcement of a $240m strategic deal with AccorHotels, we thought it was high time we organised a dinner to hear all about how they went from launching in 2009 to being all grown up.

Grab a seat at dinner with Andy Batty, London’s General Manager at onefinestay and hear all about the growth of the business, and the exciting times that lay ahead with their goal to launch in 40 cities in the next 5 years.

With scaling being Andy’s thing, both at onefinestay and his previous role as European Operations Director at Tough Mudder, he’s your man to talk to about growing your startup. So, join us for dinner to share with Andy, and your peers, what you’re working on over a delicious meal.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 28 June at Jamie’s Italian, Piccadilly

New to TableCrowd? Take a look at our video to see what it’s like joining us for dinner:

Check out the full run-down of our upcoming dinners too.

This week saw Alasdair Snow, the co-founder of Triptease speak at our travel startups dinner and The Grow Movement host their #Uganda600 dinner. Here’s what went on:

TripteaseTravel Startups: Dine with Alasdair Snow, co-founder of Triptease
Alasdair joined a great crowd of travel industry people at Tom’s Kitchen, St Katharine Docks on Tuesday evening. There was a great atmosphere as some of the guests were already well-aquainted with each other; there was even a reunion between three men who all went to university in Kuala Lumpur and hadn’t seen each other in four years! TableCrowd are happy to have inadvertently facilitated such a reunion!

Starting a company, you have a vision for success, but before you know it, you’ve been working day and night, the market is not where you thought it would be, and you are running out of cash.

Alasdair spoke passionately about the travel industry and building a business, acknowledging that the highs and lows never stop, that the first 18 months of Triptease were a really intense struggle, and how amazed he is at the number of decisions he makes on a daily basis that are based purely on gut reaction. Sounds like every founders dream and nightmare, rolled into one!

ugandaThe start of #Uganda600
Grow Movement’s dinner for their volunteers for #Uganda600 was described by our host as “A big night with big characters, and a lot to talk about!” Claire Jenkins, the CEO of Grow Movement, hosted the dinner which was buzzing from start to finish. The entire group agreed to arrange a monthly get together to keep connected and updated during this busy time for the programme. TableCrowd HQ were impressed with the lengths people went to in order to attend the dinner, with one diner coming all the way from Russia to join in!

Our speakers were joined by: Groupon Getaways, TUI Travel, Localoids, Much Better Adventures, UnderTheDoormat, Tripbod, TripAdvisor, Tripster, Bobs SSG, Esplorio, Travelclinic2you, SLV, Climate Change Capital, Ernst & Young, PwC, Amazon UK, Akebia Consulting Ltd, Informa, BDP LLP, Global Impact Training, Experian, KPMG and CDC Group amongst others.

Take a look at what other TableCrowd dinners are in the pipeline, right here.

travel Next week’s dinners are both to do with travel, with one for the volunteers of The Grow Movement London team, and the other for travel startups.

The start of #Uganda600
The business professionals who have volunteered to take part in a ground breaking academic paper on entrepreneurship in Uganda are joining The Grow Movement London team for dinner.
Dinner is at 6:30pm on Tuesday 30 June at The Green, Clerkenwell

Travel startups: Dine with Alasdair Snow, co-founder of Triptease
Find out about the journey of Triptease so far, from its co-founder, Alasdair Snow, who will be covering topics from fundraising and scaling, to building a business from scratch and winning awards. With investors pouring more than $12bn into travel startups founded in the last decade, it’s a great industry to be in.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 30 June at Tom’s Kitchen, St Katharine Docks

Take a look at the full list of upcoming TableCrowd dinners.

For those of you who are new to TableCrowd – have a look at our video to see what it’s like when you join us for dinner:

The private dining room at the Green Restaurant in Clerkenwell was packed full of brilliant people and travel startups last night. We dined on a delicious 2 course meal & wine and enjoyed the after dinner talk by Lee McCabe, head of travel at Facebook. He shared his tips and knowledge for travel marketers on how to best make use of this popular and influential platform. The Q&A at the end sparked some lively discussion and lots of useful connections were made.

We were joined by some incredible travel startups and companies including Much Better Adventures, Travelex, Sumak Sustainable Travel, Localoids, Touriocity, Tripster, What Now Travel, Travelex, BlaBlaCar & many more.

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Here are some photos of the night for you to enjoy:

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Here are some snippets of conversation on the night:

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Good times were had and the roast lamb courtesy of The Green went down a treat. Thanks to Rackspace for partnering with us.

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Check out our upcoming tables here.

We’re looking forward to seeing Prash tomorrow night at the travel dinner with the head of the travel at Facebook Lee McCabe as after dinner speaker. It’ll be a lively one and we’re excited to hear new insights, make interesting connections and enjoy good food & wine. We caught up with Prash ahead of the dinner to find out a bit more about his travel startup Localoids. Over to you:

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Localoids is an international community with a simple aim: we want to help each other with anything we can, whether we’re travelling or at home. It could be local advice or experiences, language practice, skills and knowledge or hospitality. We want to create international friendships and, ultimately, a helpful global neighbourhood.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I worked as a wealth manager for over 10 years, but I’m now free of the corporate noose.

Prash Localoids

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

In hindsight I would not have wasted several months negotiating with potential tech founders, only to be let down. I would have started building straight away with freelancers, as I’m doing now.

What will 2015 bring?

We’re very excited at Localoids and hope to get the business and social model working really well, before expanding across Europe and eventually, around the globe.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the the sector?

Don’t waste time trying to find a tech co-founder. Try to prove the business model with research and customer development, then hire freelancers to build it. Once you have something tangible, you’ve got a much better chance of finding people to join you. By the way, I’m still building.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

If you love meeting interesting people, learning new things and helping others out, you’re a Localoid. We connect like-minded Travellers and Locals for fun, adventure and understanding. Join our growing tribe and help bring the world a little bit closer together. What are you waiting for?

How would you describe TableCrowd to someone who’s never heard of it before?

TableCrowd is a platform that connects people around interesting topics, to chat over a nice meal. It brings together like-minded people for networking and lively discussion. Once you sign up on the website you can join a table or create one of your own, based around whatever you want. Others can join and voila, you have a dinner party with interesting friends you haven’t met yet!

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Connect with Prash and Localoids

Thanks Prash and wishing you all the best with Localoids! See you at the dinner table soon.

Let’s meet the fabulous Richard Brownsdon, founder of Inspiring Adventures. Richard is a good friend of TableCrowd and it’s always a real pleasure to dine with him! Richard co-hosted our recent Social Enterprise dinner. You can read more about that dinner here.

Richard Brownsdon

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Inspiring Adventures connects people with social enterprise, through tours, blogging, and coaching. As a consultant, I work with organisations to help them run programmes that support social entrepreneurs.

(The truth is, it has changed over time!)

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

Working in social enterprise support actually! I’ve worked with come of the biggest social enterprise support services in the UK, and a couple of international ones. Add in a bit of world travel, teaching, and business work, and there you have it.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Building your network is so important. Your first opportunities will come from your friends.

What will 2014 bring?

New service offers! Let me know if you want help getting started in social enterprise.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector?

I just wrote a blog about about it! Start simple. Subscribe to newsletters of people in the sector that you like.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

It’s not easy to know where to start in the social enterprise sector. Save your time and money and speak to someone who knows.

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

When it comes to people supporting startups, I love Solve.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

​The Brigade – Hire the private room for 8 – fantastic! ​

InspiringAdventures

Cheers Richard, we hope to see you soon around our tables! You can read more about startup spotlights here.

We’re very excited to announce our Travel Startups #MeetandEat dinner on 3rd June, 7pm.

travelstartup

It’s a chance for London’s travel startups to get together, network, dine and share experiences & contacts.

As well as a tasty dinner, we’ll enjoy Q&A and after dinner talk from Tony Sandler, founder and CEO at What Now Travel.

Tony is a passionate traveller, who loves to explore new places at any opportunity. With a background of 10 years in sales, marketing and advertising, Tony has worked for both UK and global advertisers such as Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Nestlé and SEAT – both on the advertising agency side and as a marketer.

Tony decided to found What Now?! – an innovative mobile solution to help travellers simulate a “live” smartphone experience abroad without paying for roaming.  They were showcased by Techcrunch as one of Europe’s Top 15 Startups at their Disrupt conference and by PhoCusWright at their Travel Innovation Summit in the US as one of 2013’s Top Travel Innovations.  The product is launching as the Official London Tourist App in association with VisitLondon, the official London Tourist Board and part of the Mayor’s office.

We can’t wait to hear Tony’s story and to find out what everyone is working on. Our last travel startups dinner was a useful and enjoyable evening attended by around 20 travel startups – read more about it here.

You can book your place here or please get in touch to hello@tablecrowd.com or @tablecrowd with any questions.

It was great to see Alec Dent, Partnership and PR Manager of BlaBlaCar at our last Sharing Economy startups dinner. Here’s a bit more about him and the business he is working for.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

BlaBlaCar connects people looking to travel long distance with drivers already going so that they can share the cost of the journey.

What were Blablacar’s founder doing before he launched his startup?

Prior to founding BlaBlaCar, Frédéric worked for 5 years as a scientific researcher, at NASA, as well as other places. He studied at INSEAD where he gained an MBA and studied a degree in computer science at Stanford.

What will 2014 bring?

2014 will see the release of our new app (in the next few days!) and the deployment of our online booking system across a number of other countries outside of France and Spain where it already exists. We are also always looking for the next country to expand into and we will making some progress on this front also as well as continuing to grow our current member base.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector?

We have a number of internal motos at BlaBlaCar that were derived from our experiences, mistakes and successes in getting to where we are now and these would be the best advice we could give. For the tech minded out there, ‘Think it, Build it, Use it’ and ‘Done is better than perfect’ and a good overarching one is ‘The Member is Boss’!

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

BlaBlaCar saves you money. As a driver, you can fully cover your fuel costs when you take three passengers with you on your long journeys. As a passenger, it’s on average 75% cheaper than trains. On top of that, BlaBlaCar is also a green and social travel solution.

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

EasyCar Club. Someone needs to get peer to peer car rentals right – it makes so much sense! Whether you call them a startup is a bit of a different question however.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Rossella in Kentish Town. A very small Italian owned and run by a young guy in his early twenties. Unassuming, cheap and it’s in the top 100 restaurants on Tripadvisor out of 12000 in London!

BlaBlacar LOGO bubbleIt was great to see TableCrowd regular Alec and we hope to see him again at a future TableCrowd dinner!