March 14, 2019 |
Meet Marlon Koch, the 18 year old founder of “Menu”, an app that is capable of transforming decades-long learned behavior in the restaurant completely. Marlon’s app allows customer’s to pay directly and removes the tedious call of the waiter, the back and forth with the bill, waiting for change etc. Menu app customers use a payment process similar to Uber, where passengers automatically settle the bill via payment data stored in the smartphone.
An old dream of many restaurant customers would become true: Simply and carelessly leave the restaurant when the stomach is full and the plate is empty.
From a technological point of view this is how it works: So-called beacons, bluetooth-based radio transmitters, are posted in the restaurant. For each 50 square meters of restaurant area, it takes one beacon box, which is about the size of a tealight candle. That is how the smartphone knows in which restaurant and at which table the guest is located. Guests can place orders directly through the app and because the Menu is linked to all major POS systems, the bill will be automatically paid at the end of the meal.
In venues with counter service, the guest is informed by push message when his order is ready to be picked up. It can also be pre-ordered from outside the restaurant to reduce the waiting time inside the venue even further. According to the founder, the company wants to become “the Uber for restaurants”. Currently the start-up has 40 employees. One of them is Marlon’s father Karl Heinz Koch who is a former pharmaceutical and biotech analyst in the banking world who has broken out of the corporate world and now serves as CEO of Menu.
The app should not only make sense for guests, but also for restaurateurs. Because the tables would be freed up quicker because of the time saved, table turnover and sales for the restaurant would rise. So far, investors like this message. The company has already raised US$ 6 million mostly from private individuals and family offices and currently they are running another round of financing. The money will be used to bring the company one step further to Marlon’s goal: “We want to sign up to all major catering companies in the most important foodservice markets and equip them with our solution.” Still a long way to go.
At the moment, 100 restaurants participate in the app’s test phase. The main area of business of the Zurich based company still is Switzerland. The Kochs work closely together with ZFV, the sixth largest Swiss foodservice group. In four ZFV companies, the invisible paymaster is in operation, which “works perfectly, even at the interface to the POS system,” says Tobias Weyland, COO assistant at ZFV.
Menu is not without competition though; internationally, start-ups are testing the magic mix of guest comfort and additional sales. ZFV spokesperson Weyland knows the scene: “We have already tried some apps, however Menu is clearly the most advanced in comparison with all other providers”. Currently, credit cards and lunch cheques can be deposited for the payment, and soon also Twint and Paypal are to be added. In addition to paying the bill, customers can even use the app to leave tips for the waiter by simply swiping over a scale that has been predetermined by each restaurant.
So, if the customers start adapting this new way of payment, what happens if an unsuspecting guest sees the app-using neighbours leaving without payment and shouts “stop the thief!”?
According to Marlon Koch that’s no problem. Quite the contrary actually, as that would the best marketing for the app.
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