If you've got a favourite restaurant and want to be rewarded for your loyalty - or if you're a restaurateur looking to retain returning diners - a new app, Repeat, may offer the perfect recipe
Serial entrepreneur Omer Gurel has a knack for dreaming up fresh solutions to problems. Repeat is his seventh venture; he’s previously created a waste-tire to crude-oil recycling factory and the world’s first organic and biodegradable cigarette brand.
More recently, he co-founded 1001 App Software Solutions in Dubai, designing delivery apps for groceries and mini markets.
How did the idea for Repeat come about?
My wife and I were on vacation and we had dinner at the same restaurant for three consecutive evenings when on the last day, I jokingly told the owner that I should get a discount because of the frequency of my visits to his establishment.
He immediately replied by saying that I deserved a 25 percent discount which he offered to us without another word and a big smile on his face. This was my light bulb moment, when I said Eureka! It was at that moment that Repeat started taking some shape and form in my mind.
Why does the market need this start-up and what makes it unique?
We are helping the F&B industry overcome its addiction to heavy discounting with two-for-one offers or buy-one-get-one-free vouchers and the like. Ask any restaurant owner or operator what they think about such schemes and they will all agree that they are good in the short term but bad for the long term.
They practically give food away for free, a practice that literally eats into their margin. And they don’t build loyalty because customers visit them simply to have free food, usually at the busiest time for the outlet, and once the offer expires or is no longer valid, they don’t come back.
Repeat is unique because it is the world’s first smart loyalty platform for restaurants that dynamically rewards customers for their frequency and spend. Repeat ensures that the best prices in a restaurant go to the best customers.
The core pillars of Repeat are all about bringing new customers, bringing back customers faster than they naturally would, increasing the average cheque size and to provide data for intelligence and re-engagement purposes.
For diners, what are the benefits of Repeat?
Repeat’s end-user benefits are also unique; it is a free app, unlike most F&B loyalty programmes which require hefty upfront investment. Repeat gives power to the end-users because the more often they visit their favourite restaurants, the better price they get and the higher their bill the better the value they receive.
And there are no limits in terms of how many times they can use it at a specific restaurant or the menu items they can select.
What are your predictions for trends in how consumers will spend in restaurants in the future?
Personalised pricing in everything we do as consumers is the way forward for every aspect of the retail industry, from food to fashion, and from paying for a hotel room or a haircut. Loyalty is becoming smarter and that is good news for businesses and consumers.
What are some of the advantages of Repeat to restaurant owners?
Our business model is highly scalable because it offers a unique solution to a large number of potential customers. Our solution can be adjusted to the individual needs and requirements of each establishment and in this way, it is appealing to a diversified audience of restaurant types.
The success of our business is directly linked to customers’ commercial success, so we feel totally committed to them because their fortunes are linked to ours.
And it works both ways, because our customers feel the same due to the tangible returns, they get, which can be as high as 18 percent in revenue increase for all transactions going through the app. So far and in less than a year of going live, we have onboarded more than 500 restaurant partners.
We have a two monetisation models, one based on a monthly flat subscription fee and the other based on a commission fee on all transactions going through the app.
How many restaurants are currently available to choose from on Repeat?
We started with one client and four people less than 12 months ago. Today, we have more than 500 restaurant partners, 60,000 app downloads and a team of 45 people in Dubai and Turkey.
Based on current growth trajectory, we will be operationally breaking even in the UAE during the first half of 2020.
What are your plans for the app in terms of growth and expansion?
We will be using funding to expand in the UAE market and to solidify our international expansion strategy. After these milestones are achieved our aim is to start raising our Series B funding round by 1st of April 2020 to start expanding to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait by Q2 2020 and London and New York by Q3 and Q4 2020, respectively.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
The best advice I ever received in my life was from my grandfather when I was 15 and that was to always do a-to-do list every morning. It keeps you focussed and results-orientated.
With several businesses to your name, what do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
Well in my case, I have always been an entrepreneur, so I don’t know what it is like in any other career or life path. However, I can tell you that for me, the defining aspect of being an entrepreneur is about spotting an opportunity, weighing it and then going for it literally with your life.
Entrepreneurship is about always being on the lookout for an opportunity or innovation, persistence, grit, blood, sweat and tears and everything else in the middle. It is about intensity and the will to make something out of nothing.