Sarah Hawilo

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Finalist 2015 for the Middle East & North Africa

Sarah Hawilo

SerVme, LEBANON
Provides restaurants, bars, and clubs with a data analytics software that collects, stores, and analyses information about diners.
With a bachelor and a master’s degree in business, Sarah Hawilo, 30, had been working as a research consultant in a multinational firm for 5 years when she decided to move into the technology sector. She co-founded serVme, a mobile application and analytics software, to help restaurateurs adequately meet their clients’ expectations.
“Restaurants need to move into a different level of inventory management where everything is automated, everything is coordinated.”
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Knowing who the customers are
Originally, Sarah was seeking to create a reservation application that would allow users to make instant bookings. While conducting research, Sarah discovered that restaurant owners most importantly needed to better understand their diners’ needs. “After speaking to many bars, clubs and restaurants to understand if this would be really useful to them, we actually came up with a very nice surprise. Restaurants are actually having a lot of trouble understanding who their customers are.” Restaurants were looking for a tool to capture information about their clients.
Meeting the clients’ expectations
SerVme built an interactive mobile app in which users can reserve a table at venues and are provided with recommendations based on their preferences. In addition, restaurant managers have the ability to collect and analyse the data in order to meet their customers’ needs. “From the restaurant perspective, we will be able to help them make better decisions from experience and not intuition, provide better service for the diners and enhance their operations. Customers always want to feel treated like VIPs and know that the restaurant knows what their preferences, allergies, likes and dislikes are.”
“The main challenge of the food and beverage industry is how to use technology in order to provide better service, increase capacity, increase revenues and lower marketing budget.”
Expanding to Dubai
Sarah made it possible to launch serVme by applying for a government programme for low interest debt financing. “We were able to begin operations producing our software. We’ve also received seed funding and are currently growing our start-up.” The company has 9 full and part-time employees – mainly developers and sales and marketing people. SerVme operates in Lebanon and is starting to work with restaurants in Dubai.
“We currently have 60 venues that are using our software to date. They use it because it’s powerful, it’s useful and it comes in handy for their everyday management.”