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INNOVATORS VS COVID 19

How the Covid-19 Pandemic Led to More Growth than Ever for a Restaurant Tech Startup

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Christian Mouysset Tenzo

We talked to Christian Mouysset, CEO and Co-founder of Tenzo about actionable business intelligence and forecasting for restaurants and retail and here is what he said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Christian Mouysset: We’re very lucky that my family and I are doing well — my wife and I have been able to work from home for the past 10 months, and our 2-year old daughter is now back at nursery. We are also expecting the arrival of our second child any day now!

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tenzo.

Christian Mouysset: My journey to founding Tenzo was pretty unique. I studied economics and computer science at Cambridge, and when I graduated, a friend and I started selling hummus-based meals from a food stand. After initial success, we opened a permanent Hummus Bros location and, over the next few years, built it up to 6 locations around London and 100s of popups in corporate canteens. 

What I found astounding was how difficult it was to harness all the data we were generating to make the decisions we needed for our business. Pulling together reports from our various systems took huge chunks of time, and when assembling them in Excel, there were invariably mistakes that would need correcting and multiple versions of spreadsheets being bandied about. The whole process was a real pain – I couldn’t get the information my general managers needed fast enough or simply enough for it to make an impact. This led to most decisions being made based on gut instinct, which meant we were never really sure of how business was going and often got a nasty surprise at the end of the month when the numbers came in.

This frustration led me to found Tenzo. With my experience in technology and as a restaurateur, I was in a unique position to understand the problem that existed within the hospitality industry and had a way to solve it. Tenzo is the missing link to aggregate all of a restaurant’s data streams to give restaurateurs actionable insights whenever and wherever they need them.   

How does Tenzo innovate? 

Christian Mouysset: Tenzo is the first technology of its kind which focuses exclusively on the restaurant industry. We create a solution for restaurant operators who previously could not access their data to be able to gain valuable insights from their business. We work with over 40 partners across the restaurant technology space, including point of sale systems, staff schedulers, inventory management software, and review platforms to give our customers a 360-degree view of their operations no matter which systems they choose to use in their restaurants. 

We are always innovating and evolving, listening to our customers, and adapting to the times. Since the pandemic began, we’ve expanded our partnerships, including the likes of Shopify, as we saw many of our customers had started selling meal kits or groceries online. While they may have been selling online, they still needed to see that sales data alongside the rest of their revenue, so we quickly built the integration needed to do that. We also knew that dark kitchens were getting more and more popular, allowing restaurants to expand their delivery area to customers now working from home and experiment with virtual brands. We made sure that our reporting could handle all of their locations as well as each of their brands so they would always have the insights they needed. 

One of our core values at Tenzo is actually that we are always experimenting and learning, so we make sure that we are always looking for the next innovation and how we can best execute on that for our customers to bring the latest and best technology to the industry.  

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Christian Mouysset: Originally, we were very worried about the effects of the pandemic on business. Across most of the world, restaurants were being forced to shut their doors for extended amounts of time. It was clear that many restaurants were going to have to completely rethink their offering. Delivery and takeaway services had to be set up practically overnight, new marketing initiatives needed to be trialed to see if they could get enough customers to make staying open viable. However, this huge shock to the industry seemed to make people think more about the tech they used. 

When furlough came into effect in the UK, many restaurant businesses only had skeleton teams working, which made time an incredibly valuable asset. Suddenly operators were looking for ways to automate tasks that will have been done manually in the past. That’s when they started turning to Tenzo. Tenzo eliminated the manual, time-consuming tasks of pulling together reports and instead gave operators and general managers a full view of their operations at the touch of a button. They could make the changes the business needed in real-time, something that was incredibly important when restrictions, and therefore demand, could change from one day to the next. 

On top of that, we saw big changes in outlook in the industry. Suddenly innovation was going at warp speed. Ghost or dark kitchens absolutely exploded, and with them came new reporting challenges that Tenzo was able to solve from the get-go. On the enterprise side, companies that had previously been wary of cloud-based systems were now looking for any way to speed up their processes, and the firewall is damned. As a whole, restaurants now have a much more digital relationship with their customers, meaning that they collect a lot more data. The pandemic has also made it that they have less people to deal with the data, and they need to react faster than ever, so new tech to help do that is absolutely essential. All of this meant that we have actually seen even more demand over the past 12 months than ever before. 

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Christian Mouysset: As co-founders, we had always believed that face-to-face engagement was the key to a successful team. Of course, when the pandemic hit, we had to park that belief and find a way to make remote working work. While it was a bit of a learning curve, to begin with, we found new processes and developed new ways of being our most productive selves even if we couldn’t physically be together. 

We also had to decide to furlough a large proportion of the team as we were so unsure of what kind of hit our cashflow would have with so many restaurants closing. But, it turned out that demand was higher than ever, so we quickly got everyone back on board and even made new hires.  

We ultimately saw that the team was able to work effectively remotely, and although I can’t wait to see everyone again once it’s safe, we know that we can both maintain and grow the business no matter the restrictions put in place. 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Christian Mouysset: We are obviously using tools like Zoom and Slack to keep everyone in touch and the loop. We’ve also instituted new operational processes like a shorter dev sprint cycle and more regular daily check-ins. Early on, we realized that it was essential to give our team the space to bounce ideas and brainstorm in a group environment. 

We also made sure to keep all communication channels wide open. I made it a big priority to keep the entire team in the loop when it came to any changes in strategy and keep investors informed every step of the way. We also made sure that customers were being communicated too often to understand what our position was and how we were going to support them through lockdowns and beyond. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Christian Mouysset: It has been clear for a long time that restaurants needed the kind of analytics and reporting suites that all businesses require. The current norm in the industry is to use Excel for any kind of data analysis, which can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming. Tenzo eliminates the need for spreadsheets, so the pandemic has simply hastened the timeline to the acquisition of this type of technology. Demand for Tenzo is at an all-time high, and we are unique within the market. We’re going to harness that demand and provide restaurateurs with the analytics platform they need to run their business in the best way possible. 

Your final thoughts?

Christian Mouysset: It’s certainly been an unprecedented 10 months; if anyone had told me a year ago what we’d have gone through, I would never have believed them. While the pandemic has changed all of our ways of life, it’s been a very interesting time to be in the restaurant technology industry. The progress that usually would have taken years to make has happened in a mere few months and, I have to say, it seems to me that restaurants will reopen better and stronger than ever before because of it.   

Your website?

https://gotenzo.com

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