The mobile application beams out deals during restaurant down times, integrating with their point-of-sale systems and providing users with credits that can be exchanged for foodie deals.
William founded the Dallas based company after graduating from Hult International Business School’s MBA in 2012. A grafter who made one of his first paychecks as a trader shorting Lehman Brother’s stock just before the bank collapsed, trigging the global financial crisis, he has worked across the finance and consulting sectors.
DineMob has partnered with Dallas food bloggers, who have helped spread the message during the product’s Android launch. The company also works with Uber, the $50 billion taxi hailing app, in a tie-up which allows users to schedule a ride directly within the DineMob app.
The start-up has received $25,000 in funds from the Tech Wildcatters accelerator in Dallas, and is in discussions about raising a larger funding round from local investors.
An MBA has given William the confidence to lead business strategy. He is targeting 10 pilot restaurants. So far, DineMob’s biggest client is La Duni Latin Café, a chain of restaurants in Dallas whose head chief, an entrepreneur, sits on DineMob’s advisory board.
But William, a former vice president of Hult’s Consulting Club, is hungry to bite into a bigger chunk of a sector slated by investment bank Digi-Capital to generate $70 billion in revenues by 2017.
How did the idea for DineMob come about?
My co-founder, Malcolm Woods, came up with the idea. I've known Malcolm for years. He was always calling me with ideas for new apps.
He got the idea for DineMob one day after going out to eat a couple of times with his brother during off-peak hours, when he would find the restaurant manager and ask for a free appetizer. "If you give me a free appetizer, I'll call up more friends and invite them up here right now!" Malcolm took that idea and developed it into a mobile app.
How was the technology created?
Malcolm is a mobile developer and the lead product guy. He's worked in mobile development for Dell and Intel. That's our real strength starting off.
Given the surging reach of mobile, what growth do you anticipate for the app moving forward?
I expect pretty good growth. We’re testing it with Android users live right now, then we’ll put iOS out, and really build off of that around Dallas. Then we’ll take it to neighbouring cities such as Houston and Austin, and [plan to] scale up pretty quickly.
How has the deal with Uber impacted the application’s use?
It’s a great tie-in. Uber is the hottest app out right now, and its users are already comfortable buying a real-life experience on mobile, which is exactly the same thing we're selling.
You’ve utilized bloggers. How important is marketing and which methods have been most effective?
Marketing is the most important thing for a company like ours. And the bloggers are a huge help. We have so many food bloggers in Dallas, whom are really excited about our product and are willing to use it, write about it, and tell their followers.
What strategies have you used to incentivize sharing of the app and to retain users?
Sharing — our rewards system — is a cornerstone of our product. One of the first things we did was file a patent on the rewards system. From day one that was the core of the product.
What we’ve built on that is the DineMob Credits system. Users who have built up these Credit balances will be able to redeem them for greater discounts or even free meals at any of the restaurants on our app. We’ll be rolling out loads of ways for users to earn DineMob Credits.
How have you benefited from the Tech Wildcatters accelerator and what is the start-up scene like in Dallas?
Tech Wildcatters has been an amazing experience for us. All of the mentors we’ve met from the program — we’ve added a couple of them as official advisors, and there are a few others we keep in constant contact with. Without them, I don't know if we could have gotten all of the traction we’ve had
It [Wildcatters] has been a great source of ideas and has really helped us to refine our strategy and get our business up to speed.
People may not think of Dallas when they think of start-ups — but big start-ups do come out of Dallas. The scene here is really growing fast.
What lessons can you take from your career as a trader to a start-up?
Oh man. There’s a lot, like working hard for no money in the beginning and building something that you know will be a success. I started trading with Kershner Trading Group right out of college — it took me three months to make my first paycheck — and I made it shorting Lehman Brother’s preferred stock going into the weekend when the bank collapsed. That was an historic paycheck.
In early 2010, there was the flash-crash — the guy sitting across from me made $1 million that day. But, just like in a start-up, you can’t get caught up in what other people or companies are doing.
What was your experience like at Hult and how beneficial has an MBA been as an entrepreneur?
When I was at Hult, I took that year seriously and made the most out of it.
I came to respect people who think differently and approach things differently than I do. The diversity of the approaches and thought processes to any given problem adds so much to the solution. All of that input is so valuable, and at Hult I learned to value team diversity.
Then there’s the coursework and the professors. One really beneficial aspect was that about 50% of our coursework was group project work. I learned a lot about my skills and ability to build, work with, and manage teams.
I learned much from business strategy Professor Daniel Deneffe and his courses about how to think about business, how to approach business strategy and how to handle competition.
The big picture for DineMob is already laid out in my head and my confidence for handling all of the future steps and actively growing this company is through the roof — because I can draw on those experiences.