Gauthier Collas and Armin Ghofrani, are the Co-founders of hospitality-focused digital platform NextChain. We took the opportunity to speak to them and find out what it was like trying to enter the hospitality industry during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, what motivates them, and how they have benefited from the Graduate Enterprise Grant, the University of Edinburgh and the DDE programme.
Gauthier: Armin and I met at the University of Edinburgh Enterprise Hub. With similar experiences working in hospitality and an awareness of the lack of innovation for SMEs evolving in that market, we started trying to work out what we could do to change this, until we got to where we are today - working on NextChain full-time.
Gauthier: The expertise of a chef is to cook great food, and the expertise of a premier producer is to supply great food to restaurants, right? The way many restaurants work is dated, inefficient and wasteful. So, the goal for us is to provide the tools restaurants and suppliers need to easily manage everyday operations - meaning they can focus on what they’re good at - providing and cooking great food.
Armin: We use data to expose inefficiencies between restaurants and suppliers and make the food supply chain more streamlined, reduce waste and save money. We also want to implement predictive analytics that tell restaurants when they will need to order more of a product or identify where food is being wasted.
Gauthier: Being an entrepreneur is about finding a problem and becoming fascinated about how you can solve it. We use our expertise and drive to find a solution that has purpose and impact.
Armin: It's so exciting to work on a project you started yourself. We feel like we're involved in something that is not only personally meaningful but also helps the industry we care about. And that's what motivates me.
Gauthier: There are so many ways to access amazing support from the University. From the Enterprise Hub where you can work and meet other entrepreneurs to mentoring, workshops, and events that connect you to experts, investors and the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem.
And, thanks to what we learnt on the Venture Builder Incubator along with funding from the Graduate Enterprise Grant and the DDE Seed Fund, we were also able to recruit two part-time employees and accelerate development of NextChain. The DDE programme has enabled us to unlock the next stage of our company.
Armin: In Edinburgh there is a sense of a community where you can easily collaborate, and access conversations at a corporate level. When you are in Paris or a big capital, it's really, really, hard to build a network, but in Edinburgh you can do this.
Gauthier: Now restaurants are open again, we are at the stage where we have our first active users on the platform. We see this as an opportunity to gather feedback to improve the app and refine our solution. The next two big things are then growing the user base, and focusing on the seller-side of our two-sided platform.
Want to learn more about NextChain, click below to head to their website.