The creators of the B2B system in the restaurant business Maxim Meshcheryakov, Nikita Obukhov and Oleg Vasyukov are sure that at the first stage of the company’s development it is important to expand the customer base, and not think about making money.
After two months of existence, they managed to connect about 400 restaurants and 430 suppliers to the service. After 3-4 months, they plan to introduce a monthly fee and fully recoup the project.
Field of activity:
Procurement automation system
CEO, co-founder of Youvend
How it all began
There are three founders in the Youvend project: Nikita Obukhov is responsible for the technical part, Oleg Vasyukov is responsible for sales, and I for the general business strategy of the company. We met a couple of years ago on another project - RBTaxi, a B2B solution in the field of taxi-transportation automation. Last April, due to disagreements with partners, we decided to leave the company in order to open our own business.
We devoted the summer to the search for ideas. When you work in the IT field for a long time, ideas come on their own. For example, getting lost in a shopping center abroad, we thought to create an application for indoor navigation. Or, going on vacation, we realized that there is no tool for buying a tour online. We wrote down all the ideas, discussed and worked on the subject of the possibility of their implementation. But in the end, they decided to proceed from their capabilities and use the experience gained in the previous project, as correctly as possible. We wanted to create a solution for business automation in the B2B industry.
HoReCa was one of the areas that we noticed. It turned out that the restaurants, and there are about 6-8 thousand of them in Moscow alone, have almost no automation. There are programs like R-Keeper, but they are only responsible for the process of serving visitors.
The most resource-consuming is procurement activities. Firstly, a large range of goods. Secondly, the supplier market is very unstable. They open or close, or the state imposes a ban on the supply of a particular product. As a result of this, on a daily basis, there is a lot of communication between the restaurant and the supplier. This happens the old fashioned way: the cook or the purchasing manager forms a list of the necessary goods and starts phoning suppliers for their availability. The larger the restaurant, the more time this process takes. We decided to focus on this task. Thus, by the beginning of the winter of 2013, we had come to understand what we would do.
Youvend is a procurement automation system that brings together suppliers and their customers. This platform solves four levels of tasks: search and selection of goods, procurement, communication, and reporting.
By registering on the site, the supplier creates a profile in which it prescribes the products, working conditions (cash or bank transfer), delivery, minimum delivery cost, the deadline for the formation of the order, downloads the price and catalog. Using a catalog or a search bar, a restaurant finds the right product and sees a list of suppliers. According to the profile, the restaurant understands whose working conditions are best suited to it.
If earlier orders were made via telephone and email, then using our platform everything happens online. After choosing the right product and quantity, the buyer puts it in the basket and confirms the order.
In the struggle for the customer, suppliers try to remind themselves of restaurants at any opportunity. The poor cook is crazy about these calls, because of all the offers for him, only a few are relevant. It is much easier to go online once and read about all today's promotions in one place. Our site has a special section in which suppliers post such information. This works the other way around. The restaurant places a tender on the site to search for a specific product.
Our ultimate goal is to become a universal platform that will close all communication between the supplier and the buyer. We want to become a Facebook in the B2B sphere. The social network has many different modules - uploading photos, private messages, viewing news, subscribing to pages. This is a platform that combines everything. It can be called one simple word - dvizhuha. It is she who helps the project to be a leader and set the trend. The project will be bent without moving.
No one has created a platform with such a philosophy on the Russian market. There are projects, but they solve one of the problems - for example, provide a database of suppliers or offer to place a tender. We want to solve the whole complex of problems.
There are several approaches to business. According to one of them, monetization is introduced first, and then new customers gradually appear. Another is the initial build-up of the customer base, and only then in the conduct of monetization. We went the second way. Firstly, we had enough money to develop the project. Initially, we invested our savings of $ 100,000, and a little later received $ 200,000 of investment from business angel Pavel Kovsharov. Now we can afford to develop the project and not think about earnings. Secondly, I’m sure that as soon as you have many clients who are interested and passionate about your project, it becomes very easy to introduce monetization.
Having developed the prototype, we entered the market. Made a list of suppliers, began to meet with them. In the first two weeks, about 250 suppliers were connected to the system. Then they gathered a list of all the major restaurants, began to call and make appointments. Ten said no, one said yes. They began to call even more. Out of a hundred, ten agreed.
It seemed to us that in our sphere there are two players - a restaurant
and supplier. The meat producer came to us last week
With each of the partners we tried to build good, friendly relations. They willingly contacted us, despite the fact that we are young and have been on the market for about two months. If something didn’t work out for us, they still wouldn’t lose anything. To date, we have connected about 400 restaurants and 430 suppliers. Thanks to word of mouth, customers already find us themselves. A very large client appeared - Ginza Project, which uses the platform daily.
In March, the turnover amounted to 22 million rubles. For a project that started in mid-February, gaining such a volume of deals in March is cool.
When developing a product in winter, we mostly relied on our experience and our vision. Now we are dancing from the market: we carefully listen to the reaction of our customers and change the product depending on their wishes. For example, we can completely change the platform’s functionality if we understand that this is more suitable for the market.
At the very beginning, it seemed to us that in our sphere there were two players - a restaurant and a supplier. Last week, a meat producer came to us. Therefore, soon we will add the ability to each participant to indicate their status - manufacturer, supplier, buyer. A company can have three statuses simultaneously.
When launched, we thought that our client was a small restaurant, but it turned out the other way around. It is networkers who use the system actively. The larger the restaurant, the more daily problems it has.
Another surprise is the inertia and stagnation of the industry. We thought we needed to offer our product to purchasing managers. But just such a manager does not need anything at all, he does not care. Often, only the restaurant owner is interested in improving the business.
With the existing customer base, we can recoup the company now if we introduce monetization. But we are not doing this yet. This is a long-playing project, not for one or two years, but, most likely, for 20 years. Therefore, in order not to slow down development, we will introduce innovations gradually.
In three or four months we will connect about 1,200 restaurants, then it will be possible to start earning. A subscription fee for suppliers will appear, for restaurants, the use of the system will remain free.
At the end of this month, we will launch a message line where suppliers will post their shares and offers, introduce cross-tenders, that is, we will give suppliers the opportunity to additionally declare themselves, and launch the private message function. Over time, there will certainly be a need to impose sanctions in the form of black lists of dishonest companies. So far there have been no precedents. If you do everything gradually and in a timely manner, carefully listening to the reaction of the market, our potential customers will understand that Youvend is a universal platform that connects suppliers and buyers in absolutely any field of business.
Author: Irina Kharseeva
Photos: Mikhail Goldenkov