Every Thursday, ILQ features a different startup in our ‘Startup of the Week’ segment. Qatar has some of the most creative, unique, and impactful startups in the region, and we cover them all across a variety of industries in Doha—from fashion and beauty to food and dining, health, education, technology, and more!
Now that we've moved to Phase 3, necessary precautionary measures are still in place which includes requiring customers to pre-book before dining at a restaurant, reducing the restaurant's capacity, and encouraging the use of contactless payment methods.
With contactless dining fast becoming the new normal, we're featuring this week an upcoming mobile app called UTSeat that will help the restaurant industry in Qatar to enhance its customer's contactless dining experience.
UTSeat is a booking and traffic management mobile application that offers a variety of unique features to simplify and better the dining experience for both customers and restaurants.
Customers will be able to book the exact table they want at their favorite restaurants without leaving their house. Also, they will be able to see the live status of the restaurant in order to know how busy it is. Contactless menus, orders, and payments will all be made possible through UTSeat. According to Alia, the founder, many more features will be revealed on the launch date.
Why UTSeat? Alia shared that the name of the app is a combination of three words. UTC (Universal Coordinated Time), Seat, and Eat. A fitting name for a mobile application that combines time management, sitting, and eating.
UTSeat was founded by Alia Lalla, a 22-year old commercial pilot who turned to business during the pandemic, as the aviation industry went through a crisis brought about by the travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to Alia, she came up with the idea at the end of 2019.
As I traveled to numerous places in my life, I got to notice some similar issues in every restaurant I’ve been to and thought of combining something useful with something enjoyable. Of course, I thought of it as a customer’s point of view at the very beginning but the complexity arose when I had to think of the logistics for the restaurants’ comfort which created this beautiful combination of quality services and efficiency for both customers and restaurants.
UTSeat is set to launch in a few weeks and will keep evolving and improving as it expands worldwide.
Although the app was conceived late last year, it's more relevant than ever, especially to Qatar.
As I was born and raised in Doha, I was able to observe the population’s behavior towards new concepts and situations.
COVID-19 changed our lives and we must overcome this period through a smooth and nice transition to this new normal. The most dominant activities in Qatar are surely restaurants and cafes and the people of Qatar enjoy using technology and love new concepts.
Currently, all restaurants require reservations which increase the demand for UTSeat App beyond all the extra features it offers.
UTSeat gives a chance to all customers getting a table as they wish which is difficult to achieve through a phone call on busy days when the lines are constantly occupied. Moreover, UTSeat perfectly matches the standards of customer service established in Qatar.
Finally, I believe that UTSeat is relevant worldwide as it is responding to routine human hassles.
ILQ also asked Alia what makes UTSeat unique. She replied that although there are similar apps in Qatar, the similarities stop at the booking function.
"What we propose at UTSeat is a restaurant experience that will be 100% contactless, the timing is right and the need is real. Being able to book the very table you wish to dine on, choose your meal from the comfort of your living room, or have an entirely contactless experience, I know introverted people will be happy. Of course, there is a 360-degrees visual booking function that we will implement in the post-Alpha version of the app but that is just one of the many elements that differentiate UTSeat from the competition. We’re keeping a few other surprises up our sleeves but these will be revealed in time."
When asked about what was the hardest part of starting UTSeat, Alia said that it was managing all the aspects of the business at the same time.
The hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth was managing all the aspects of the business itself at the same time. The app development had to be followed closely and checked for bugs and issues. Reaching out to restaurants and meeting each one of their managers was taking most of my schedule. Also, opening a company implies a long procedure which was also a stressful process as it involves legal revisions and accounting. Being young and inexperienced, I was always making sure to get advice and accurate information around me to proceed.
Alia also shared that in the development of UTSeat, she did seek help from Qatar Business Incubation Center following friends' recommendations. Although the business wasn't retained for the program, it was a great learning experience for Alia as she learned to manage things by herself.
Her advice for young entrepreneurs who are interested in establishing startups of their own? "My very first advice to young entrepreneurs is to always be passionate about your idea, there will always be challenging moments on the way but they must go on and believe in themselves.
Of course, they must make sure their idea is different from others and makes them unique in some way. Also, planning ahead is one of the most important things to do before starting a project to make sure they don’t get overloaded with work."
UTSeat aims to be a mobile app that will be used not just by youth but also by the older generations. It's designed with the convenience and safety of the end-user in mind while allowing customers to create a unique experience customized according to one's own preferences. "Another great value UTSeat adds to its customers is time-saving and managing which will be understood upon using the App," Alia added.
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