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MYOB founder to fund YumTable expansion

Monday, 2 May 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Restaurant booking start-up YumTable is to expand internationally with financial backing from MYOB co-founder and former CEO Craig Winkler.

 

YumTable is the brainchild of Madewell Enterprises, an internet technology company formed by Winkler in 2009, along with other former MYOB executives. Madewell focuses on web services for customers and businesses.

 

Madewell plans to take the YumTable concept nationwide in the next few months, followed by market entries in New Zealand and possibly Hong Kong.

 

Madewell's head of strategy Chris Knight says the organisation essentially acts as an incubator, through which the concept for YumTable was born.

 

YumTable allows customers to search for the best restaurant deals available, either on the site or via an iPhone app, and make last-minute restaurant bookings based on those deals.

 

The Melbourne-based start-up has already signed up more than 200 local restaurants, which pay YumTable a $2 fee for every table booked through the site or via the app.

 

Winkler, recognised as "ideas and business cultivator" on the Madewell team, has taken an undisclosed stake in the site since it launched a month ago.

Along with Brad Shofer, Winkler co-founded accounting software company MYOB from a spare bedroom in 1991.

 

Over five years, they grew the business to become a leading supplier of accounting software in Australia before listing the company in 1999 with a market capitalisation of $500 million.

 

Private equity firm Archer Capital made a hostile $437 million takeover of MYOB in late 2008, with Winkler eventually selling off his 27% share after initially opposing the takeover bid.

 

A keen interest in the customer and end users, coupled with an understanding of the pressures faced by restaurants and cafes when streamlining their business operations, helped Winkler to arrive at the YumTable idea.

 

"YumTable takes the hassle out of getting a table or finding a new restaurant to try... You're likely to get a good deal at the same time, without the embarrassment of pulling out a discount coupon," he says.

 

Knight says YumTable "rewrites the book" on restaurant bookings for Melburnians.

 

"From the restaurant's side, we tried to keep things as simple as possible – their experience is pretty basic... All they have to do is build and schedule an offer," he says.

 

Knight says customers can view last-minute restaurant deals and make instant call-free bookings via the YumTable website or app. With regard to availability, restaurants simply text 'yes' or 'no' to the customer.

 

YumTable also allows restaurants to promote deals based on capacity, which means they can control the number of tables allocated per offer and the times that are available. It also allows them to "turn off" the discounts if a large party walks into the restaurant.

 

With regard to other projects, Knight says Madewell has "half a dozen in the pipeline" and is always looking for new business opportunities.

 

"Our strength is in incubation; to keep ideas coming through and building up concepts through a partnered strategy," he says.