Table4one gives business travellers food for thought

18 Mar 2019

From left: Ciaran Haughey and Ronan Haughey. Image: Table4one

Our Start-up of the Week is Table4one, which makes it easy for like-minded professionals to meet for meals while travelling on business.

“It is a free app, available for both Android and iOS, which makes it easy for solo business travellers to connect and network for dinner or lunch,” explained Table4one co-founder Ciaran Haughey.

Ciaran, who has worked as an operations director with various multinationals, spends 30pc of his time travelling internationally, which he enjoys. “However, the one aspect that I don’t enjoy is eating alone.

‘A solo diner two tables away from you could be your next biggest customer, investor, employer, employee or mentor and they could change your career and even your life’s direction’

Future Human

“On one of my recent trips, I was on my fourth successive solo dinner and looked around the Manchester city centre restaurant I was in and I counted 10 other solo diners [business people] in the same restaurant, most looking at their phones to pass the time.

“I thought that there would be a solution online that would allow solo diners to connect, one that wasn’t a dating app.

“When I couldn’t find anything, I felt that there was definitely a gap in the market. Over the following months, I chatted with several friends, family and colleagues to get their opinions.

“A couple of them had actually used dating apps under false pretences to meet with people, rather than having to eat on their own! That’s when Table4one was born.”

The market

Ciaran estimates that 10m people travel on business each day.

“Half of them travel alone and most of them eat alone, but not by choice.

“Table4one works globally. There are thousands of dating apps for half of the market who are single, but there are very few services to connect people who are in relationships, or people who aren’t interested in dating.”

The founders

Ciaran has more than 20 years’ experience in multinational, multimillion-dollar companies, with more than 10 years as a director of operations in multiple industries including financial services, tech, health/wellness and payments.

His co-founder, Ronan Haughey, has 20 years’ experience in the IT sector encompassing sales, tech and senior management. He holds an executive MBA from HEC Paris.

“We are supported by a HR expert with 20 years’ experience of developing great teams [up to 200 people] and winning cultures across multiple industries,” Ciaran added.

The technology

Table4one is a free app, available on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

“Once you register, you can simply enter where you’re going and when you’ll be there and the app will match you with other like-minded professionals that will be in the same location on the same day.

“It isn’t a dating app! There are no pictures and no swiping right or left,” Ciaran said.

“The goal is for Table4one to be recognised as the go-to service for business travellers.

“As a business traveller myself, this is a solution that I use. I know that it will transform the lives of business travellers. A solo diner two tables away from you could be your next biggest customer, investor, employer, employee or mentor and they could change your career and even your life’s direction. Up until now, these opportunities have been missed or left to chance, but not any more.”

Meals on wheels

Ciaran said that progress has been swift. “The launch has been amazing. In just over three months, we have had 50,000 installs in over 100 countries all over the world.

“We are actively looking to raise seed funding or attract angel investment to bring the app to the next level, and are very open to talking with anyone who can share our vision about the fantastic opportunity.”

Ciaran said that the biggest challenge has been to stand out and create awareness of the brand and the product.

He describes the Irish start-up scene as exciting and invigorating. “There is a huge enthusiasm and hunger for learning and development. Events such as Web Summit and CES have been a fantastic route to market for us and a great way to assess the market demand.”

His advice for would-be entrepreneurs is to just go for it. “If you don’t try it you’ll never know. Have an open mind and listen carefully. People are generous with their advice and opinions, and customer/user feedback is gold.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years