HighTable Inc. is a US-based hospitality-tech startup operating in Africa, building a hybrid of Toast and Yelp tailor-made for the African restaurant and hospitality industries. The hospitality industry has experienced tremendous growth over the past five years, with the emergence of beautiful hotels and restaurants all over Africa. However, this infrastructural development alone has not improved the customer experience.
To understand and solve the pain points that restaurants and hotels face, Ridwan co-founded Cafe De Elyon in January 2020 and HighTable Africa, a hospitality consultancy agency, in March 2020. The cafe gave Ridwan and his team a unique opportunity to understand the operational challenges that beleaguered restaurants and set them up for success.
HighTable Inc. was incorporated in Delaware in 2022. It has built a cloud-based restaurant management software that addresses all the restaurant-related problems and apps that help customers discover and transact with their favorite restaurants across Africa. These platforms use proprietary machine learning models and advanced artificial intelligence to make recommendations that make sense.
The pre-seed funding round was led by Oridun Capital Management and included debt financing by an angel investor, Chioma Ejire.
HighTable’s approach is a more holistic one compared to its competitors,
“We think that customers can help solve Africa’s customer experience problem in a big way.”Our competitors soon realize their solution isn’t as impactful to businesses without a customer-facing channel. “We have built an online and offline community of paying customers with over 2,000 beta users of our customer-facing app through partnerships with influencers, our partnered restaurants, and community events,” says HighTable’s founder & CEO, Ridwan Lawal.
When asked about HighTable’s subscription model, Gakii Biriri, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer, stated, “Our initial assumption was that only small-scale restaurants would find our solution appealing, but we have found the “big boys,” who make up over 70% of our active subscribers list.” They find the synergy between our RMS and the consumer apps very helpful, and many of them are ditching some of our competitors. We have over 2000 consumers, 30 restaurants, and ten event organizers in our beta program. “At this rate, we are projecting 50% MoM growth. ” “Our product is now comfortably poised to cater to different types of restaurants, from cloud kitchens to full-service restaurants, depending on their subscription choices.”
Gakii, who was born and raised in Kenya, called the product “revolutionary” and said that when HighTable goes to Nairobi next year, it will be the solution that will bring Kenya’s hospitality industry back to life.
HighTable’s full-stack and end-to-end approach result from constant building and iteration, according to Chief Product Officer Risi Bello. Our solution helps restaurants manage the manual processes by digitizing them and integrating local payments, menu management, kitchen production management, inventory management, reservation management, and business analytics.
“HighTable was built after nearly 18 months of a collaborative customer feedback loop. We listened to everything, from how African restaurants reconcile inventory and how customers pay to how they handle logistics and, most important, how they are discovered. We can confidently say that no one has done as much work as we have to build an end-to-end solution for our food business owners,” said the CPO.
The consumer side of HighTable is even more exciting, claims the London-based CPO. There has been a spike in diasporan tourism within Africa, and HighTable is perfectly positioned to capture this market and more. Intra-African travel is on the rise, and consumers struggle to keep up with where to eat, stay, and what to do. The mobile and web applications give users access to AI-powered recommendations based on their interests and preferences while using their allergies to prevent potential medical emergencies. The peer reviews help boost security and serve as a quality assurance check on our partnered businesses, similar to how Yelp works in the US. We’ve also added things to make bill payment easier, which is a big problem in the hospitality industry.
Abi Adisa, the managing partner of lead investor Oridun Capital Management, said of the investment, “We loved investing in HighTable because it is building the core digital infrastructure for hospitality businesses across Africa. The team has done the hard work of figuring out the core problems faced by African restaurant owners and is building a solution that can revolutionize the food business across the continent. We’re sure that the founders will be able to grow HighTable because they know the industry well and are passionate about making the customer experience better.
HighTable charges restaurants between $30 and $180 monthly to access its software. After getting part of its pre-seed funding and working to finish it, HighTable’s CEO said the company would build financial products, especially BNPL, and start processing payments for restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry.
HighTable is now live to the public, and users can create their profile on the web application at hightable.africa. Restaurants can claim their profile or set up their online restaurants using HighTable Business.