One Hundred Tables cofounders, Tony Akston and Alejandro Cadavid, are world travelers that know how hard it is to find a good place to chow down in a new city. Their idea for showcasing the 100 best restaurants in 100 cities is a surprisingly simple one. Companies prove their worth via Facebook likes and pay a nominal fee (less then what a dinner out at Ecco would cost) to be included on the list. One Hundred Tables then approves and puts up their profile for you to find. In the words of Akston, “the site runs on near autopilot,” has the capacity to “generate $1 million in revenue.”
Find out more from Akston below:
Number of Employees?
Funding or Bootstrapped?
Why was it founded?
One Hundred Tables was founded to provide Foodies a reliable shortlist of great food and dining experiences in major cities worldwide, and to provide Restaurateurs with a unique and affordable platform to showcase their restaurant alongside other top restaurants.
We charge qualifying restaurants $100 annually to have one of the 100 spots on their city page. This is 27 cents a day. The site runs on near autopilot. Restaurants that wish to have one of the 100 profiles simply select their city, select their spot, pay the fee, and upload a couple of great photos (one for the grid, and one for the profile itself). The website can generate $1 million a year in revenue.
What is a qualifying restaurant?
For a restaurant to have one of the 100 profiles in their city on the site it must have at least 250 Likes on its Facebook page. The site automatically checks this at signup. Most restaurants on the site have far more than that and often well into the thousands.
How did you get the idea?
Both myself and Alejandro spent years traveling the world always on the lookout for great food experiences from dive bars to five stars.
I worked for a large online manufacturing marketplace connecting buyers with suppliers all over the world. Buyers would use the site for free and suppliers would pay around $10,000 a year for a membership. It worked well expect that when you sell a $10,000 online membership it requires a substantial salesforce everywhere and it’s long decision process for the customer.
I thought – first let me bring this kind of a matchmaking model over to the subject matter I know and love (travel and dining), let’s then build something very cool, and finally let’s take the price down so low that it becomes an easy, on-the-spot decision for a restaurant to join or not. That’s the key. That’s where the charm is. At a hundred bucks a year there is virtually no risk to the restaurant, but a lot of upside.
The very first Chef I ever showed this too prior to launch was Chef Gerry Klaskala of Aria in Atlanta. After I showed him what we were about to launch he looked at me and said “In the entire history of Aria I’ve never spent a nickel on advertising. I’ll give you $100 right now. This is a no-brainer for a restaurant owner”.
How is Atlanta involved in the story?
Atlanta is our longtime home base and I was introduced to my business partner Alejo here in Atlanta via a mutual friend. Between myself and Alejandro we’ve been to probably 70 countries. We purposely built an online e-commerce platform that we could run from anywhere on Earth and we both choose to live in Atlanta. It’s a great place to live, eat out, and build a business. Plus the airport makes it easy to go almost anywhere in the world mostly non-stop.
Who are our competitors and how do we stand out?
We don’t really have competitors.We’re small compared to the bigger names like Yelp and Open Table but what we’re doing is also very different as well.
Yelp primarily does reviews and lists every restaurant possible (at times whether the owner likes it or not). OpenTable of course is primarily for making reservations.
One Hundred Tables on the other hand is a restaurant showcase site. We stand out because our design makes sure that all the restaurants in a city on are page 1, not buried on page 42 somewhere that nobody will ever see.
The reason there are no reviews on the site goes back to the way the site works. It’s almost impossible that a bad restaurant can even get on the site (although we did have a San Francisco strip club with a steak house on premise get onboard before we had to immediately remove them).
We’re not trying to compete with anyone. We simply designed what we wanted. We stand out because the concept is straight to the point – we showcase 100 great places to eat in 100 cities. Period.
Plus, who really wants to sort through 3,645 restaurants in some city then have to filter out bad reviews anyway? Just show me where to go for great foodie experiences.
If you could have a Mulligan in the launch process and running the startup.
We had to figure out the right formula along the way of how to speak to restaurant owners, how to launch a city, and how to deal with the Press. We probably could have learned a bit faster in those areas.
Is there anything else you need (that money can’t buy?)
Wisdom. When we launched the site we decided it would be wise to be able to bounce ideas off smart people who could objectively see things. We created a small Advisory Board and we meet a few times a year for updates, progress reports, and to toss around next steps. We were very fortunate that the first three people we asked to provide some advice from time to time accepted the challenge.
As Advisors we have one of the best chefs in the nation, the aforementioned Chef Gerry Klaskala, Mr. Greg Fea, the ex-CEO of illycaffe (global coffee brand), and Mr. Sherwin Krug, one of the top technology and startup executives in the world.
[Photo Credit: Screen shot of ATL page on One Hundred Tables ]