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S2E4: INSEAD Grad’s Startup Changes Food Ordering

Tim Wekezer | May 15, 2020
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    S2E4: INSEAD Grad’s Startup Changes Food Ordering
    Tim Wekezer

Thanks for listening to one of our most popular episodes from Season 1, click the Play button! Ten years ago, ordering food was pretty much a hassle…it was like how you remember it when you were a kid, if you wanted delivery, you’d have to call hours ahead, and only some restaurants would deliver.

And I say ten years ago because timing is everything. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t get into a stranger’s car, or you wouldn’t sleep in a stranger’s house instead of a hotel.

Tim was at INSEAD when he saw food delivery apps like Foodpanda transform how food was delivered. He then thought, could an app change our experience when we order and pay for food in a restaurant?

Watch the latest TV show in Japan with Channel NewsAsia before COVID-19 hit.

That was Tim from Waitrr, check out his website at waitrr.com, he now covers around 200 restaurants in Singapore. It seems kind of obvious after that conversation that we should have the freedom to easily order food without having to wait or deal with staff. Call me a stickler but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much when I don’t have to deal with wait staff, especially in Asia, where I’ve had menus thrown at me, been shouted at, or just been given death stares while I eat my food.

You got to admire a guy for passing on a really lucrative finance job to follow his passion, after all, he came from a family of restaurateurs so he must have been thinking about how he can have a positive impact on the industry.

Also, bonus advice on how he handled building his app with an outsourced Vietnamese team and what it’s like being a new dad and how it’s changed the way he approaches entrepreneurship.

Thanks for listening! The greatest compliment you can give me is to recommend this podcast to colleagues, family and friends. Share a comment through email or Linkedin and let me know what you think, I’m constantly trying to improve the content in this podcast for you. 

I’m also looking for my next tv show after I recently hosted my last tv show on Channel NewsAsia about the latest business trends in Asia. In this show, I flew to Japan to uncover the e-sports industry with a crew and fixer, and we dove deep into the Esports industry. I learned a lot about myself and about how to host a show. You can check it out here, it’s an hour-long and we met with a lot of interesting characters along the way. I’d love to know what you think.

More about Waitrr:

Waitrr is an ordering and payment application that creates a seamless and enjoyable dining experience for busy food lovers. Be it dine-in or take away, the application comes in handy. Precious time is usually spent waiting in line, making your order, waiting for the bill, you name it. With Waitrr, the orders are sent straight to the kitchen in seconds. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Once you download Waitrr, you immediately see the restaurants in your area. Those located nearest to will appear on the top of the list for your convenience. Waitrr with over 190 restaurants, with food from almost every cuisine. After selecting a restaurant of your choice, you will be led to a complete menu with pictures for you to browse. Once confirmed, you simply select ‘Add order’ and ‘Pickup Time’.  Alternatively, those who want to dine in can start browsing the menu and once they get seated, their orders can be placed. It just takes one QR code scan for the order to be sent straight to the kitchen.

Waitrr was founded by Tim Wekezer who studied an MBA programme at INSEAD Singapore. Having grown up in a family of restaurant owners, and holding a bachelor’s degree from the distinguished Hotelschool – The Hague, Tim has a deep understanding of restaurant operations and the guest experience. Holding an MBA in Finance, Tim’s resume could have easily landed him an opportunity in the field of finance. Instead, he took the bold decision to crack at something he was passionate about.

The idea came to Tim when he encountered a bad lunch experience here in Singapore, where he had to wait almost an hour just to get a waiter to send his order into the kitchen. Tim examined the solutions currently in place and found only tablet e-menus which were limited in function and very expensive. The timing was perfect to actualize this idea when he took the idea to an Insead Venture Competition and won first prize. All of the prize money went into kickstarting the development of the Waitrr app.

Validating the business model, Waitrr has received its early stage fundings from a crowdfunding community of Singaporean investors. To name a few, some of them include Andy Lim who is the Founder and chairman of private equity firm Tembusu Partners and Steve Kek, CEO of OMG Venture. Another source of funding was from Jisr Venture Partners, run by Albanawi and son Omar. They saw Waitrr’s strategic intent to improve automation and progress in the F&B sectors. Similarly, Toronto-based food ordering app Ritual raising  US$70M recently tells us that there is demand for our service, both on the consumer and investment side. Looking at the prospects for growth overseas, Ritual’s geographical growth tells us that Waitrr has a similar potential to disrupt the industry in Asia – as a leading player in the Singapore market.

Host’s Bio:

At 20, I took a break from my law degree to co-found my first startup, Beeconomic, which was fully acquired by Groupon (a record-breaking buyout in Singapore after just 6 months according to The Straits Times).

As Groupon Singapore co-founder, we created over 200 jobs and made history by helping Groupon become “the fastest-growing company ever” (-Forbes and CNBC). After Groupon, I worked on 4 startups that failed, which taught me important lessons about failure.

After finishing my law degree, I joined a “Top 5” law firm in Australia that led to an offer in their M&A advisory practice.

I was then recruited by Hong Kong’s biggest English newspaper, The South China Morning Post, as the social media editor to execute a digital transformation strategy. When the team achieved strong digital growth, Jack Ma’s Alibaba acquired the newspaper. After 6 months of transitioning and training with the new owners, I moved on to pursue my passion for cooking.

After culinary school, I became a full-time advisor for a $100M Japanese VC, a highlight is our $1M investment into a fast-growing, millennial-focused news platform.

I have served as a consultant to Governments and 80+ tech firms in Southeast Asia, but for early-stage startups, I also volunteer as a mentor at an incubator. I am an entrepreneur who knows exactly how it feels to be guide-less and isolated. I’ve met a lot of kind people on my travels who were willing to help me and this is my way of paying it forward.

Spending my spare time volunteering in charities, mediation, cooking, and working out are my passions. Channel NewsAsia shot a 2018 TV documentary called “Millionaire Minds: Chris Chong” featuring my latest (failed 🙁 ) startup and featured me as a guest host on their show “The Millennial Investor” before COVID-19 hit. I’m looking for my next job (like everyone right now), if you know of any TV hosting opportunities, then do please reach out.

If you liked this episode, check out our most popular interview from season 1 with the co-founder of SGAG and MGAG, Karl Mak.

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This podcast was originally published on 2018-10-16

Music (Creative Commons/ Royalty Free)

Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6pYjYDlu_M

Thunder Clap by Thunder Clap

 “another one”  by grapes

“I dunno”  by grapes

“STAY IN THE GREAT”  by BOCrew

“Two Swords”  by _ghost

“Tube Sox (Hip Hop Instrumental) (Prod. by Robbero)”  by Robbero

“SUNBIRDS”  by BOCrew

“Start To Grow (cdk Mix)”  by Analog By Nature

“Ave Maria (Hip Hop Instrumental)”  by Robbero




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