Zenchef: The Food Industry Goes Digital

Interview with Zenchef founder & CEO Xavier Zeitoun

The restaurant industry is going through a transition. Gone are the days when you would just go down the street and into the first restaurant that looked inviting. Gone are the days of making a reservation at the locale or checked out the menu hanging in the window. Digitization is in full swing. In order to keep up, restaurateurs are more or less forced to have a website from which visitors can check out the menu or reserve a table. It often take a lot of work to put up content, it’s complicated and expensive. With Zenchef, an all-in-one platform, restaurateurs can get a grip on this problem. Founder and CEO Xavier Zeitoun took some time to talk to us about his company.

What exactly does Zenchef do?
Zenchef helps restaurant owners to develop and manage their digital presence easily. We are the first all-in-one marketing platform for restaurants that have their own websites, take reservations online and post reviews. They can also communicate directly with the customers, which saves them money. You don’t have to post and to pay to have your product on several domains, with Zenchef, everything is in one place.

How did the idea for Zenchef come to you?
I founded Zenchef with Julien Balmont and my cousin Thomas Zeitoun after graduating from business school in Paris. I was in the United States during university, where I realized for the first time that the restaurant industry was going digital, and that the trend was going to come to Europe any time. When I got back to Paris, I planned to develop a project that would help restaurants to be more present in digital form.

What were the first steps in launching Zenchef like?

From the very start, we developed a detailed concept which we then presented to potential customers. It got a very positive reception and even before we finalized the product, 50 restaurants were interested in us. Shortly after the verification and validation of our business model, it went really fast. An initial financing gave us 300,000 € with which we could promote our product and our employees. In the first year, our team grew from 3 to 15 members and our client base from 50 to 500 – which was a huge success for us.

What do restaurants get out of using Zenchef?

The good thing about our application is that restaurateurs not only save a lot of time on creating and organizing digital content, they also generate noticeable revenue with it. Restaurants that work with Zenchef earn about 3,000 € a month more than usual.

What has been your customer feedback so far?

We’ve gotten very good feedback from our customers, and at the moment have 99 percent satisfied users. That really affirms that we’re on the right path with our work.

How did you hear about Techstars the METRO Accelerator?
We already had contact to the METRO in France. That’s how we heard about the plans for an accelerator for hotel and food in Berlin. Since we fit in perfectly to the program and it was for us an incredible opportunity, we got up the courage to fill out the application.

What did you expect of the program?
We wanted to use the program to develop ourselves as we would have under normal circumstances in a year or two. With the help of numerous and experienced mentors from sales and marketing and the whole METRO network, we’re well on our way to reaching our goals. METRO has helped us access many potential customers in the restaurant industry, which is a huge help for us.

What made you decide to found your own company?
The first reason I always wanted to be a founder is that I like to come up with and develop my own ideas. Creating a result from my own thinking really excites me. I also love the freedom to do my own thing. The best way to live out your passion is to found your own company.

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