For the last few years, the opportunity for startups building tablet-based point-of-sale (POS) systems was in replacing the traditional cash registers in small shops and restaurants. Now that everyone’s generally all caught up, we might be seeing a lot more creativity coming through in the POS space.
Hanoi-based Hottab, a startup that builds POS systems for F&B businesses, shared with e27 its plans to up the ante with tables doubling as touchscreen menus.
We had a chat with Founder Sanjeev Sapkota and he said that the touchscreen tables will bring about a more seamless experience.
For example, a pub will be able to easily upsell its food items. As the customer orders a round of beers, images suggesting snack pairings will automatically show up on screen.
Sapkota told e27 that the company will be beta testing the touchscreen tables with the Tung Shing Group, a Hong Kong-based foreign investor that owns two hotels in Hanoi. He said that the target for the new product will be big hotel chains and KTV groups.
Currently, Hottab is offering your standard cloud-based system for restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where both the front and back-of-house is covered.
While customers can make orders, track order times and split the bill all from a tablet via the Hottab app, restaurant owners have access to management tools such as inventory upkeep and report builders.
The nine-month-old startup makes money by charging premium customers US$5,000 for the hardware and the software, which includes the POS system and features such as inventory, purchase orders, recipe management and customer loyalty. Software a la carte costs US$3,000.
As Hottab picks up more customers, it’ll be able to gather enough data to keep restaurants in the loop about their business.
“We’ll be able to tell the restaurants their six-month projections and also do a competitive analysis – what are other restaurants able to sell depending on season? For example, one of our customers has really good business in the summer but suffers in the winter so we’ll be able to suggest that they should sell more promotions around those dates. The idea is we can build our own ecosystem within the F&B industry.”
Sapkota said that once the company signs on 50 customers, it should be able to create the analytics layer for the restaurants. He estimates that it’ll happen within the next six to ten months.
In the future, Hottab plans on building a marketplace for suppliers so restaurants will be able to browse items through the app and place orders straight away.
Since inception, Hottab is already working with 23 outlets, 13 of which were signed up within the last month. Ever since bringing on former Bombardier consultant Nicholas Campourcy to handle day-to-day operations, Sapkota has been able to focus full-time on business development, which explains the influx of new customers.
The team of 15, made up of mostly engineers, is all based in Vietnam but Sapkota made it clear in our interview that Hottab has been thinking global from the start.
“In a market like Vietnam, I don’t know if we want to spend that much money and not get the return. After we do the beta test, we might be looking to take it to more mature markets like Singapore, Malaysia and even China, Korea and Japan. In places where human resources are more expensive, it would make more sense.”
Hottab also has its eye on the US market and Sapkota is hedging his bets on experienced restaurateur Dana Deutsch, who has built and sold a New Orleans eatery, to take them there.
With promising traction, global ambitions and plans to scale the team up to 20 by end of year, why hasn’t Hottab raised its seed round yet?
Sapkota said that the company is currently looking for investment, but only if the investor’s intentions and expertise aligns with Hottab’s needs.
“We’re not saying no to money, but it’s about finding the right investor who is into the F&B business, has B2B experience. For us, more than money, it’s about our product and whether we’re able to make our customers happy,” he said. “We’re looking for an investor that matches our vision and isn’t just looking at us as a money-making machine. As long as we’ll bootstrap, we’ll bootstrap.”