Home Human Asia Michael Cluzel and Pumin Yuvacharuskul – Eatigo

Michael Cluzel and Pumin Yuvacharuskul – Eatigo

The online food app connects hungry customers with empty tables at restaurants, with discounts.

Human Asia was honored to interview Michael and Pumin for this article.

Tell us about the beginning. Why Eatigo?

The basic idea for Eatigo comes from the insight that restaurants are very inefficient in capacity utilization. Hotels and airlines reach about 80% utilization rate, but restaurants only reach about 30 to 35%.

This means an opportunity that is “blue ocean” for the first mover. And the market is global – same problem for restaurants everywhere. Hence the market potential  is huge as the size of the global sit-down restaurant is around 2.6 trillion USD!

And why the food industry?  Because food is a special industry as it transcends geography, culture, religion, everything. All over the world people eat three times a day. Food is always relevant, and  since people have to eat, it’s perfectly suited for a transactional business model due to high incidence and relevance.

Tell us more about Eatigo. What benefits would one get from using the platform?

For the user, the benefit is that they can book over 700 popular restaurants on the platform, all of which are discounted all day, every day.  And we offer 50% discount on all food items on the menu at some point in the day! This is globally unique. Also the user does not need to make any pre-payment, no coupons or credit card information is required, so security and convenience are supreme.

For the merchant, the benefit is that we send them traffic and fill their empty tables at the times when they have capacity. Other platforms send 90% of their users in peak hours but only Eatigo sends 90% of our users in off-peak hours. We guarantee our partners profits on every table and improve their overall profitability.

Explain to us more about the ‘yield management’ concept you often talked about.

Yield management is not new, it has been around since the 1970’s. It was pioneered by American Airlines and subsequently adopted by all airlines and hotels. We are bringing this tried and tested algorithm to the restaurant industry.

Yield management is about charging different people, at different times, a different price for the exact same product reflecting the supply and demand change at the point in time. That is why airline ticket prices change every few minutes, or why we have surge pricing from Uber.

What Eatigo does is applying this logic to restaurants by offering our users savings at our restaurant partners depending on what time they choose to go.

You are currently in Singapore and Thailand. Why those markets, and which markets are next?

We wanted alpha markets that share certain aspects, but are different in others. We needed markets that have (a) a dining out culture, (b) discount affinity, and (c) adequate mobile internet penetration.

Both Thailand and Singapore tick these boxes. We also wanted to see how a developed, high competition market like Singapore perform versus an emerging, lower competition market like Thailand. That is why we chose them. Two years on, we are the market leader in both our alpha markets and have gained the necessary learning experience in order to decide on our expansion strategy.

Expect to see Eatigo in several new markets across Southeast Asia soon!

What were or are the biggest challenges?

In the beginning the challenges are the same that every start-up faces: finding good quality staff, making payments and pay-roll, proving the business model. Some challenges were self-inflicted like us putting business intelligence into place too late and spending on marketing too soon.

Another challenge was convincing venture capitals. Most venture capitals in Southeast Asia are risk averse, and they want to invest only in ideas that have been proven elsewhere. They are mostly afraid to support start-ups that are trying out new, ground-breaking things. That is why all our investors so far are strategic investors with longer-term, more visionary outlook.

Today the challenges have moved from proving the model to professionalizing the organization, creating better processes, and executing better as we scale the model to new markets.

Any social impact element in your business?

Since all Eatigo reservations are discounted, we inherently help our users save money on every reservation which is making their lives a little better and easier. But we are also starting to think more outward and looking into CSR programs as the company matures over time and becomes profitable.

For people who want to work with Eatigo, tell us about the work culture.

People who want to become “Eatigo-ers” will find a work and office culture that is characterized by flat hierarchies, a very frank and direct communication culture, lots of fun. We are loud. We have a passion for the brand and service that we are providing, and a feeling of being a pioneer as we continue to be the first mover in our field.

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What were your dreams growing up?

Michael: I am the only son to a French father and Swiss mother, born and raised in Germany in an artistic family setting. As a kid, I wanted to be a biologist, then later on during university an economist, before pivoting to start my career as a marketer at the Coca-Cola Company.

Pumin: I was fortunate enough to have been educated in the UK since I was 11, and graduated with a Master of Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree. By studying aboard, this has helped me tremendously in having the ability to think on a broader horizon and in big picture terms. I always feel that this gives me an edge over my peers. As for dreams, I didn’t really have a specific dream on what I wanted to be. But I always liked the idea of becoming successful and recognized. The question that I often ask myself  is ‘with all those successful people out there making a difference, can it also be me? What do I need to do to get there?’

Read also : Jenni Lipa – on learning, practicing, and giving back

Did you always know you were going to be an entrepreneur?

Michael: The desire was there for quite some time before I actually acted on it. When the stars aligned and the timing, team, and the product were right, and the mill of Global Fortune 500 corporate life was wearing me down, I made the jump and have never looked back.

Pumin: I think there has always been an entrepreneurial spirit in my family. Each of us had previously made something of their own. My parents didn’t think that it would be worth my time to carry on their business – so they told me to come up with a good business idea, and they would back it up. I first started in the water business, which is still ongoing. However my real breakthrough is Eatigo.

What profession would you be doing if you were not an entrepreneur?

Michael: CEO of some company doing similar work, but less happy because I would not be working for my own business.

Pumin: I have always been a video game enthusiast when I was young. I would have loved to be a video game developer. But as I grew up and knew more about the industry, I realized that it is much more complicated than it looks. So now I’m more happy to be just a consumer of video games. If not that, then maybe I would have liked to be involved in some kind of video production or TV program. I think that would be fun.

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What characteristics are needed to become a good entrepreneur?

Michael: You need to be visionary and see things before others do. You need to visualize, conceptualize, and then go and actually do it. You need to be comfortable with uncertainty and walk in when others walk away.

Pumin: It is important for an entrepreneur to have a grander vision than everybody else, and understand what should be done that would result in creating a product that is superior than everybody else. It is also imperative to have a curious mind. Always challenging why things are done in such a way, and if there is something that could be improved.

You need to be able to tell a good idea from a bad one. You need to learn to not be in love with your own ideas and ditch them when they are bad. Oh yes, you need to be obsessed on some level.

What’s a typical day for both of you?

Michael: My alarm goes off at 6:30am sharp, then I am off to my morning run from 7:00am to 8:00am. Then I catch up with some world news, before arriving at the office at 9:00am. The first thing I do at the office is to clear out my emails, before looking at the task list for the day. Then it’s pretty much meetings, Skype calls, and hustling for Eatigo all day. I try to be back at home for some family time at 7pm, before going to bed at midnight.

Pumin: I’ve always been terrible at getting up in the morning, it is my least favorite part of the day. I eat a light breakfast, mainly just bread and soy milk. I commute to work by car. First thing I do at the office is to jot down the to-do list for the day on my notebook, and start to prioritize them. In the evening, I would find something delicious to eat. It doesn’t need to be expensive but has to taste good. Then I go home and spend a couple of hours either watching streaming TV or playing video games before going to bed around midnight to 1AM.

What is your principle in life?

Pumin: Always strive for happiness. Money can certainly help, but it doesn’t guarantee happiness. You can’t go and tell extremely happy people that they need more money, while some wealthy people will struggle to answer about what makes them happy. People who are successful are not those who make the most money, but those who are the happiest.

Your favorite quotes?

Michael: “Some people make the same mistakes all their life and call that experience”

“In every company, only cost is incurred and nothing happens until somebody sells something”

“Screw it, let’s do it!”

Final advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Michael: From the words of Marc Cuban….

“Only do it if you are obsessed with it.”

“If you have an exit plan you are NOT obsessed!”


Visit Eatigo at https://eatigo.com/home/th/en/bangkok/

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