Restaurant app feeding off success on Dragon’s Den

Temptster app enables restaurants to promote offers for same-day bookings


It’s been a busy week for mobile deal company Temptster. Fresh off the back of an appearance on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den , founder Ollie Fegan’s phone is hopping.

His tech start-up aims to match restaurateurs’ excess supply with consumers’ demand in real time, tempting users to a cheap meal or freebie. The Temptster app enables restaurants to promote offers to people for same-day bookings.

“Restaurants have been ringing non-stop looking to find out how they can get listed on the app,” he says.

During last Sunday night’s show, Cork-based entrepreneur and venture capitalist Sean O’Sullivan invested in the company. The ‘Dragon’ offered €100,000 for a 20 per cent stake in Temptster, only the second time in the history of the show that such a big sum of money was pledged by a single investor.

“The viewer thinks each person pitching for money is only in front of the Dragons for a few minutes. The reality is I was in there for over 90 minutes being questioned by them.”

While the programme was aired on Sunday night, the programme was filmed in January.

“I found out at the end of December that I was going to be appearing on Dragons’ Den . There was a big rush to get restaurants on board then, as I didn’t want to appear in front of the investors having no clients.”

While he hasn’t received the €100,000 from O’Sullivan just yet, he says it is just paperwork and due diligence delaying the process, and that the money would come through shortly.

Capital injection
“I met Sean O’Sullivan several times in the last few months and he has been really helpful. He got Bill Liao, who is the CoderDojo founder and a partner in SOS Ventures, to help us develop technical partnerships with other companies.

“Bill is coming on the board as a director. He and Sean are both connectors. They know people all over the world which they are putting us in touch with.”

O’Sullivan’s capital injection will be put towards the development of the app across more platforms as well as the planned UK launch, which is currently in the pipeline.

“At the moment the app is just available for iOS, but we are working on Android, Windows 8 and BlackBerry apps. We are also hoping to launch in London before the end of July.”

The instant nature of the Temptster app means if restaurants are quiet, they can literally bring customers who are nearby to the venue within 15 minutes.

“If a restaurant finds they suddenly have a vacant table as a result of a cancellation or no-show, they can put up an offer immediately. They can also put up offers in advance if they know a particular night is going to be quiet,” according Fegan.

“We are not like the daily deals sites that sell thousands of vouchers. Our restaurants don’t have to offer any deal if they are very busy.”

Using GPS technology, the Temptster app detects where a user is and shows them nearby restaurants with available offers. Within a three clicks, the user can secure an immediate booking.

Fade Street Social, l’Ecrivain, Diep Le Shaker, Bang, Jaipur, and Salamanca are among more than 120 Dublin restaurants currently signed-up to the app, which allows restaurants to post offers for free.

“We charge the restaurants a flat fee of €5 for each booking made through the app. It’s free for them to put up offers and deals. We are putting our money where our mouth is as we won’t make anything if no bookings are made,” Fegan says.

Fegan worked as a management consultant for Accenture in London, helping big companies such as Unilever and Johnson & Johnson with IT projects and the implementation of new IT systems.

He returned to Ireland in 2008 to take up a sales and marketing role with the family business Fegans Foodservice.

“It probably wasn’t the best time to return to Ireland considering the crash was happening. It was while working at Fegans Foodservice that I came up with the idea for the app as I noticed restaurants often had quiet times, and at the same time consumers often assumed a particular night would be really busy.

Fegan, who says Irish restaurants are losing millions each year in unfilled spaces and cancellations, left his job to work on the idea.

“When I started the journey I didn’t know where to look or how to start a business. I did a course through Enterprise Ireland called the New Frontiers programme with 11 other start-ups. I was given a €15,000 scholarship which allowed me to leave my job to develop the idea.”

Global company
Fegan received a further €50,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland and is now one of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies.

The iPhone app went live in early February and has since achieved more than 10,000 downloads. The site showcasing the deals had more than 300,000 impressions in March alone.

As for the future, Fegan says he has great ambitions to be a global company.

“I want to export this app so it is being used in countries all over the world. Recently we met the CEO of a global company about expanding Temptster into 30 countries.”