Students from EPFL and HEC have just launched an app that streamlines how you organize a meal out with friends. In just a few taps, customers can choose their meal, invite friends and pay their share of the bill. Around 40 Geneva restaurants are already giving the app a go, as well as 10 Lausanne restaurants.
What started as a class project soon gelled into a business idea. Four students have just started a company for their app called Apety, which is now available on the App Store.Their initial concept was simple: they were looking to make the most of their short lunch break and eat the dish of their choosing with friends. Based on their own experience, the friends thought how nice it would be if there were an app to do those things for them with just a few taps. "Apety came out of our third-year project for Marc Gruber’s Social and Human Sciences (SHS) course on entrepreneurship in 2016. We designed a comprehensive business model using a made-up company," say Aurélien Soccard and Teo Stocco, two of the EPFL students who cofounded Apety. Their professor encouraged them to keep it at, sensing the project’s potential.
Valuing customers’ time
And so they ran with it. The students turned their core concept into an app that serves as a link between customers and restaurants. Customers choose the sort of food they want, and the app gives them the name of a suitable restaurant nearby. They can reserve a table for a given time and number of people. Then all they have to do is invite their friends and arrive on time - and they’ll get served quickly. At the end of the meal, the bill is expertly handled by Apety, which offers an easy way to divvy the amount up among the guests. The app saves customers time, helps them discover new restaurants and ensures they can enjoy a leisurely meal.
Raising the number of covers
Restaurant owners just need to enter their restaurant’s particulars into the app, including their menu and any specials. The app attracts new clients and makes the reservation process smoother. In addition to helping increase the number of covers, it simplifies the payment process at the end of the meal. The restaurants are also able to learn more about their clientele through detailed statistics. In Geneva, where the friends started prospecting, around 40 restaurants have already signed on as well as 10 in Lausanne more recently. "We tested the app for over two months in Geneva with a few restaurants before broadening our scope," says Stocco. The app works well, and their concept has earned them a number of recent plaudits. The students were awarded the "Young Entrepreneur Prize" by the French External Trade Advisers in Switzerland, along with a Microsoft Grant worth CHF 120,000. They are also supported by Genilem. Their company, now up and running, is listed on the commercial register.
What does the future hold? "Three of us are still studying at EPFL. But we have plenty of plans, ideas and challenges involving Apety, including using data analysis to figure out why people choose a certain restaurant and why a given restaurant turns into a favorite haunt."