One Night in Bangkok
by Piyush Gupta
Almost every day, while working as a corporate lawyer with a major law firm in downtown Washington D.C., a block north of the White House, I was faced with a quandary; where should I eat or order from?
There must be at least 30-40 eateries, if not more, in a few blocks around my office on Eye Street. I knew them all, mostly having tried their wares over time. So any guide such as Zagat or Yelp was of no use for me in those situations. I did not need them to discover or validate my choice. And as most of these meals were to be had in real time, when I was hungry, without any previous planning, Open Table, was also of no use. There was neither the time nor the need to make a reservation. And, if I was ordering food, I occasionally used Seamless (later to be merged with GrubHub), but using it was a chore as I was presented a long list of restaurants, with no effort put in to make the listing relevant for me.
Therefore, I imagined a service that would present me with a few context appropriate suggestions by taking into consideration, my location (i.e., home, work, in a mall, in a CBD, etc.), the time of day and the day of the week, and based on my past usage and likely behavior, what cuisine and style of service I would prefer at that moment. Net, net what I wanted was an app (as I would later realize) where I press a button and was presented with a few context appropriate suggestions, which have been put together for me, solving my everyday where-to-eat quandary, so that I could get on with my life.
Fast forward a few years, I am with my wife and brother-in-law in Bangkok, who between them have more than 40 years of experience in the F&B industry. We are at a restaurant on Sukhumvit. The restaurant is largely empty at that time. So, the manager comes over and we start chatting. We had just come off the plane a few hours ago, with hardly an empty seat. The contrast between the packed plane and the largely empty restaurant could not be starker. I happened to ask the manager, what does he do to attract more business and he listed out the usual activities of promotions, ads, both offline and online, social media presence and the like. So I ask why doesn’t he do something that the airline and hotel industry have adopted to maximize their revenue, i.e., dynamic pricing. He said he would love to but if only there was a platform available for him to participate. I ask my fellow diners, the F&B experts, whether real time dynamic pricing could be tried. They said it would be an interesting concept and has not been explored in the F&B industry.
The proverbial light bulb goes off in my head. How about if we created an easy to use app that combined the contextual suggestions that I wanted to solve my everyday where-to-eat quandary with real time dynamic pricing for restaurants to maximize their revenues, creating a win-win for both.
So, on that fateful night in Bangkok, we laid the foundation for Yumchek, a self-serve real time platform, which allows foodies and eateries to get what they want, when they want.