We focus on enjoying the process – not the end result. I think that’s the best way to bring ideas to life.
Stas Matviyenko, 24, is the CEO of SF-based restaurant app Allset and co-owner of Hashtag Bar in Kiev, Ukraine. Stas graduated from University of Graz, Austria, where he studied International Business. He built the largest mobile loyalty program in CIS countries – Advice Wallet – when he was 21. Later he launched Settle – the first mobile payment app in Eastern Europe.
Prior to launching Allset in 2015, Stas opened a whiskey bar in Kiev, Ukraine. He started it from scratch with his like-minded friends as a way to learn more about the industry he wanted to break into. Today, Hashtag Bar remains very popular with a unique atmosphere, classic cocktails, and creative events.
Stas has committed himself to creating a better way for busy people to have lunch. He moved to San Francisco with his team to launch the first-ever fast dining app, Allset. Allset allows people to book tables, order, and pay ahead for lunch which is served shortly after arrival. The app can save diners over 30 minutes of the time usually spent ordering and waiting during their lunch break.
In the winter of 2016, Allset expanded to the East Coast and launched in New York City. Today, Allset is serving over 3,000 orders per month across 150+ popular restaurants in SF and NYC.
Where did the idea for Allset come from?
Our team has 5 years of expertise in building solutions for restaurants. We built a mobile loyalty program called Advice Wallet with 500+ restaurants in 4 countries, and a mobile payment app called Settle – the first in Eastern Europe.
We have always felt that we need to solve a bigger problem. As busy professionals in Kiev, we always left the office for lunch because taking a break is good for your health and productivity. But we hate wasting time. Imagine it’s a busy lunch hour, your schedule is tight, and you have to sit and wait to be seated, your order to be taken, food cooked, served, the bill, etc.
Our research shows that people usually spend up to 30 minutes at restaurants waiting, and only 15 minutes eating their lunch. It was a problem for our team and we decided to solve it.
We took on the challenge and built the beta version of Allset within two weeks. The first user feedback was great, and we decided to launch the service in the busiest cities in the United States.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
First of all, if you want to be more productive, get up early.
So today I got up at 6:30 am, checked my email and our team Slack. Then I took a shower and went for a run. Most mornings I’m sending a lot of emails to partners, investors, etc. Then I check with my team and proceed to the to-do list I made the day before.
90% of the time, it’s answering emails and managing my team – this is where I can make the most impact and use my best skills to benefit my company.
Our team orders their lunch with Allset, and it’s magical. You go to your favorite restaurants, your meal is served in a snap, you simply eat, say thank you, and leave. We believe that’s the way all lunches should be.
Also, I have a lot of meetings during lunch. I think I’m more productive on the road, connecting with people. If I’m not at the office, then it’s usually for a reason.
I return to our home-office and proceed with my daily routines. The most important task in the second part of the day is to tell my team that they’re great. Actually, it’s not a task, but it’s very important.
I read one or two hours in the evening before I go to bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have a whiteboard in our home-office where we put our ideas up, discuss them as a team, and then try to move to realization as soon as possible. It’s never boring. We focus on enjoying the process – not the end result. I think that’s the best way to bring ideas to life.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Food+Tech is something I was always passionate about. Look what David Chang did with Ando, it’s pretty awesome. Or Jamie Oliver’s collaboration with HelloFresh – there’s so much more great projects to be brought to the table.
For example, we have this idea of restaurant platforms that will fully integrate into a single device and service. Social media, food cost, beverage and food ordering, payroll, reservations, consumer data, utilities, wine lists, absolutely everything, all in one single platform.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Based on my own experience, using your lunch time wisely can lead to better productivity at work. My team and I always go out for a lunch. Depending on the day, we will go to a local favorite for a power lunch, or a small wine bar for a light meal. We use our lunch break to recharge our brains and get our heads out of our laptops. In fact, Allset is what has been working with my team to help make our lunch hour more efficient.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I spent two years in a military school, and peeling potatoes were one of our extra duties. It’s no fun, but I learned how to peel, cut, and dice vegetables real fast, and believe me, I was very creative.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would move to the USA earlier and start my entrepreneurial path here.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Connect with people. I have been working in collaboration with talented people to create businesses and technology startups since I was in college. I’m really thankful to have my great team today, and I am always eager to make new connections.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Recently we introduced our B2B solution, Allset for Businesses, which allows local companies to feed their employees and hold more efficient business meetings at restaurants nearby.
Each B2B client guarantees us orders within Allset, as the companies pay for employee lunches. That generates us quick and almost free user acquisition with employees using the app. Even if a company stops providing lunches, employees will continue to use Allset as it’s really convenient.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
People are everything in business, and sometimes in the past, I hired and worked with the wrong people. It’s always worth the extra effort to find the right employees and to build your team with professionals who want to contribute with their time, skills, and passion. The same with partners and investors – they must share the same views and believe in your company’s mission.
Now I put more time and effort in recruiting people – from the very beginning when you review a resume, and up to the moment when you help a newcomer adapt to the team environment and processes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Battery life is one of the main pains in the butt for people. Someone needs to create a really compact and affordable wireless charger that will charge all devices – phones, laptops, smart watches, wireless headphones – in a range of your car, room, or office.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a ticket for my lovely wife Anna to the Girls in Tech networking dinner in San Francisco.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Slack helps me work with my team, and we have great integrations with them. I use FullContact to find and connect with people. Trello helps me keep information updated. I use lots of Google services. Allset of course!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance. It’s all in the title. This book shows the real entrepreneur spirit.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick, Paul Graham. Many great people on Quora.