Restaurant booking apps may be crowded space, with a slew of startups, having raised significant amounts, but Soraya Kefs, founder and chief executive of Singapore-based Weeloy, says her company’s differentiation is being more than just an app.The company, which is currently in the process of raising Series A funding, is aiming to be a ‘technology and marketing partner’ for restaurants, Kefs said. She spoke to DEALSTREETASIA about the company’s future plans , adding that the proceeds from this upcoming round will be used for Weeloy’s global expansion. Edited excerpts.
Weeloy is learnt to have raised another round of funding recently. Can you share details?
Weeloy has raised several (smaller rounds of) funds, and is working on raising a more important larger round of funding this year.
Weeloy was started by founders of FASTBOOKING – how does your prior experience help in this venture? What is the founders’ vision for the startup?
We started Weeloy about a year and half ago by noticing that the F&B industry is undergoing the same trends as hotels 15 years ago with the need of integrated technology and marketing to improve both the restaurant staff and consumer experience. Existing F&B solutions were fragmented and lacked the same level of integration that exists for accommodations. As for hotels, restaurants need now to embrace “best practices”, that let them manage efficiently their guests, guests that are driving the change globally due to social media and mobile technology. The trends are therefore accelerated and include the need for solutions that give restaurant managers detailed insight and “grasp” on their different revenue channels. These needs will require the use of technology and integrated solutions taking into account the impact of social media and mobile technology. Weeloy is proposing today a line of solutions that answer these needs and that position, and also positions us as the technology partner for restaurants.
In over a year of operations, what has been the adoption rate? How has the journey over the last year been?
Weeloy has grown substantially this last year with many brands, groups of restaurants adopting our solutions and services, that are helping them optimise their revenue, manage efficiently their restaurants by addressing the complexity they are now facing with the emergence of many 3rd party distribution channels, the need for reservation and payment systems, on-line ordering, table and queue management software and more.
How is Weeloy different from other players in this space?
Weeloy is proposing today a full B2B line of integrated solutions in addition to a third party reservation and distribution platform, weeloy.com. Our solutions and services position Weeloy as the technology and marketing partner for restaurants. Our difference lies in our approach to address the restaurant needs while giving them autonomy and global management tools, as reportings, CRM, that help them improve their revenue and guest experience.
Take us through your expansion plans?
After Singapore and Thailand, we are starting to expand in different geographies both in Asia Pacific and Europe.
What are the timelines for these expansion? Will this also depend on the next big round of fundraising that you said would happen soon? What does it take to manage a team across Asia Pacific and Europe?
We have already started the expansion in Europe and soon start in other countries in Asia. This expansion will go full speed with the next big round of fundraising. Our 20 years of experience managing teams on different countries and continents (as Singapore, China, Japan, India, Europe, US) will be the key factor in the success of this expansion.
Why did you choose Singapore to launch Weeloy
With our previous company (B2B for the hospitality industry), we have built teams in Singapore since 2002 (50 people) – same in India, Japan and China, and therefore we have an extensive experience working with the Asian market. Singapore was our regional headquarters to manage successfully subsidiaries and offices in Asia.