21 Nov 2018
Students beat global competition and secure place on renowned accelerator programme with tech start-up
Loughborough students have beaten off competition from around the globe to take part in an acclaimed development programme with their tech idea that creates a new way to discover restaurants and find offers.
Recent Product Design graduate Matt Pritchard and current Computer Science student James Powell-Tuck say they are “very proud” to have been chosen for the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality programme, powered by Techstars.
The METRO Accelerator Programme supports tech start-ups that bring special potential and facilitate digital transformation in the industry sector.
Only 10 start-ups – from Germany, France, UK, India, Israel, Italy, Croatia and South Korea – have been selected to take part in this year’s programme after they were handpicked by a jury of more than 20 members comprising investors, METRO executives and other partners.
The pair secured their place with Waffle – a chatbot that helps restaurants attract more customers, which they co-founded with Julian Bourne, a friend from the University of Sussex.
The trio came up with the idea when they were in an empty restaurant one afternoon, feeling frustrated about the amount of money they were spending eating out.
Waffle looks to save users money by finding the best deals with up to 60% off. It is used within messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and works by communicating with local restaurants that want to fill tables during their quiet hours.
The more a person uses Waffle, the more the chatbot gets to know their taste; it learns their favourite locations and food preferences so they can receive more personalised offers.
Waffle also looks to combat food waste issues experienced in restaurants and it supports young homeless people in Brighton as every time a user takes advantage of the system, a contribution is made towards a meal for someone in need.
Over the next three months, the team will further develop their business model with extensive support from the wholesale and food specialist METRO.
They will be coached by selected experts from a pool of almost 200 mentors, receive funding of €120,000 (around £106,470) each and get support from METRO in infrastructure, network and know-how.
In mid-February 2019 the start-up teams will pitch their solutions to potential investors in Berlin.
Commenting on Waffle’s success, James said: “I’m very proud of the entire team for our achievement. This is a great opportunity for Waffle however much of the hard work still lies ahead of us.
“Waffle seeks to find product-market fit during the accelerator before scaling our product to one or more countries.
“Since the programme is executed in partnership with METRO, we hope to leverage their support and scale to potentially allow us to launch our product across Europe.”
The good news follows the entrepreneurs' victory earlier this year in the Pitch@Palace competition where they took home the People’s Choice Award.
Waffle has also been awarded start-up funding from Loughborough Enterprise Network.
Further information on Waffle can be found on the dedicated website.