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    Today’s go-to tech tools for start-ups

    Having the right software in place ahead of a launch should be high on any business leader’s priority list. Abdul Kader Saadi, founder and managing director of Eighty6 Tech, talks us through the tech solutions that will support entrepreneurs in the initial phase of operations and beyond.

    In today’s fast-paced, highly competitive digital world, utilizing the right tech tools is vital to the success of any business. Having this software in place is particularly important for start-ups since it will support them in several areas of business, from scaling their operations and collaborating with stakeholders to developing their services.

    Development and coding

    GitHub is the cornerstone of modern software development. Thanks to version control and code collaboration features, teams can easily track changes, manage code repositories and collaborate seamlessly. When it comes to editing and developing code, Visual Studi Code and JetBrains are two of the best offerings on the market. Both options provide incredible versatility and an extensive library of extensions, making them ideal for various programming languages. Another great tool is Docker, which simplifies the process of packaging and deploying applications in containers, ensuring consistency across a variety of environments and supporting start-ups in scaling their apps. Finally, for start-ups seeking agile project management, Jira and YouTrack are powerful tools that allow teams to plan, track and deliver projects effectively.

    Cloud computing and hosting

    Cloud infrastructure is undoubtedly the backbone of any start-up. AWS, GCP and Microsoft Azure provide an extensive array of services, including computing power, storage, cloud infrastructure and artificial intelligence (AI). For start-ups focused on web applications, Heroku is a fantastic tool to help create easy deployment and scaling of a business’s systems. Thanks to Netlify and Vercel, hosting static websites and web applications has never been easier, with both options offering continuous deployment, serverless architectures and content delivery networks.

    Database management

    Having the right database is crucial for data-intensive start-ups. MongoDB and PostgreSQL are robust choices for handling unstructured or semi-structured data. When it comes to in-memory data stores and accelerating data retrieval, Redis is ideal for caching frequently accessed data or managing real-time data. Another great option is Firebase, an all-in-one platform for mobile and web application development that offers real-time databases, authentication, analytics, cloud functions and a simplified backend development feature.

    Testing and quality assurance

    Automated testing is a must to ensure software quality, and fortunately, Selenium and Cypress support various programming languages and browsers. For Java-based start-ups, JUnit and TestNG provide a framework for writing and executing tests, ensuring code reliability and maintainability. APR testing can be complex, but Postman simplifies the process by allowing teams to create, automate and document tests, streamlining the development process.

    Continuous integration/continuous deployment

    Jenkins and CircleCI provide robust CI/CD pipelines, enabling automated testing, building and deployment for software, helping to ensure an error-free release. For open-source start-ups, Travis CI offers free continuous integration services for projects hosted on platforms like GitHub, ensuring code quality and collaboration. GitLab CI/CD is another fantastic platform that provides built-in version control, helping to streamline the development process and simplify DevOps tasks.

    Monitoring and logging

    New Relic and Datadog offer comprehensive application performance monitoring, allowing start-ups to quickly identify and resolve issues. ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) provides a powerful, open-source solution for collecting, analyzing and visualizing log data. Sentry and Rollbar help start-ups identify and fix bugs quickly, providing real-time error monitoring, error grouping and detailed insights.

    Collaboration and communication

    Effective communication is recognized as a crucial tool within any business. Slack offers chat, file-sharing and integrations with other tools, enhancing team communication and ensuring seamless collaboration. For teams looking to stay in touch, then Zoom and Microsoft Teams provide reliable platforms for virtual meetings, conferences and collaboration. If organizing remote teams presents challenges, Trello and Asana can help monitor projects, assign tasks and track progress. Both solutions also offer customizable workflows and intuitive interfaces.

    Product analytics and user engagement

    Mixpanel and Amplitude provide powerful product analytics, such as user engagement and usage insights. However, for start-ups looking for an all-in-one platform, then Firebase offers robust product analytics and insights for mobile and web app development. Two other fantastic tools are Intercom and Zendesk, which offer customer communication platforms that streamline support and foster customer relationships.

    Security and compliance

    We all know how critical it is to keep passwords secure. LastPass and 1Password are two password management solutions that offer robust security features to secure data. However, start-ups should also leverage security-focused frameworks and libraries to help keep them protected against common security vulnerabilities. A new business may need tools to ensure compliance with regulations like GDPR, HIPAA or other sector-specific requirements, depending on the industry and location.

    Documentation and knowledge-sharing

    When it comes to document and knowledge sharing, Confluence and Notion provide engaging and easy-to-use platforms, while Swagger and Postman allow start-ups to create interactive and easily maintainable application programming interface (API) documentation alongside API testing capabilities.

    Launching a start-up undoubtedly presents challenges. However, by utilizing the right tech tools, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to build firm foundations for their operations and gain a much-needed edge in a competitive environment that will put them on the road to increasing their market share.

    How to harness the digital and delivery dining trends

    Abdul Kader Saadi, founder and managing director of Eighty6, unpacks these two key industry disruptors and explains how restaurateurs can turn tech-led challenges into opportunities.

    The dining industry is undergoing a radical transformation, propelled by the digital revolution and the meteoric rise of food delivery services. This paradigm shift undoubtedly presents opportunities for restaurants and food establishments worldwide, but also challenges. Understanding the key components of this industry-wide digital disruption is the first step on the path to not only managing it but also capitalizing on the openings it offers.

    Capitalizing on digital platforms

    One of the most prominent trends reshaping the dining landscape is the proliferation of tech-enabled F&B services and the emergence of cloud kitchens. These innovative models leverage technology to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Cloud kitchens, in particular, are centralized cooking facilities that cater exclusively to online orders. By harnessing the power of digital platforms, these services have revolutionized the way food is prepared, ordered and delivered, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and established players alike. This shift has opened up avenues for virtual restaurants, allowing for culinary experimentation and niche cuisines to flourish in the online space. By leveraging data analytics, cloud kitchens can fine-tune their offerings to cater to specific tastes and preferences, creating a dynamic and personalized dining experience for customers.

    Navigating the grocery delivery trend

    The advent of grocery delivery services has also left an indelible mark on the dining industry. Consumers now have the convenience of ordering fresh ingredients and ready-to-cook meal kits from the comfort of their homes. This trend has implications for traditional dine-in restaurants, with consumers increasingly opting for at-home dining experiences. To adapt to this shift, restaurants can explore partnerships with grocery delivery platforms or consider offering their own curated meal kits, providing customers with the flexibility and convenience they seek. Additionally, integrating grocery offerings into restaurant menus can create new revenue streams and cater to the evolving needs of consumers.

    Mastering tech and delivery

    Effectively managing the integration of technology and delivery into restaurant operations is paramount to success in the digital age. This involves investing in robust Point of Sale (POS) systems, intuitive ordering platforms and seamless delivery logistics. Restaurants should also ensure that their digital presence, including websites and mobile apps, offer user-friendly interfaces for browsing menus, placing orders and making reservations. By optimizing the tech and delivery ecosystem, restaurants can streamline operations and provide a seamless experience for customers. Moreover, leveraging data-driven insights from these platforms can inform menu optimization, pricing strategies and marketing efforts, allowing for a more agile and responsive business model.

    Prioritizing the customer experience

    In a digitized dining context, customer experience emerges as a critical differentiator. Beyond the convenience of technology and delivery, diners are seeking memorable and personalized interactions with establishments. Restaurants should prioritize training staff to provide exceptional service, actively engage with customers on digital platforms and gather feedback to continually refine their offerings. Implementing loyalty programs and special promotions can also enhance customer retention and foster a sense of belonging. By curating unique and immersive dining experiences, restaurants can forge lasting connections with patrons, fostering brand loyalty in an increasingly competitive landscape.

    By combining technology with a human touch, restaurants can create a compelling and memorable dining experience that resonates with customers in the digitized age. With carefully thought-through strategies and a commitment to innovation, the dining industry can not only navigate this disruption but emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before. Looking ahead, culinary artistry and technological innovation will combine to define the future of dining, offering exciting possibilities for both diners and restaurateurs alike.

    Eighty6 launches AI Inbox for F&B suppliers and wholesalers

    Digitize all your orders with no effort!

    Eighty6 AI Inbox is changing the game, automatically creating digital orders from whatsapp messages, voice notes and emails. This means your sales people can now handle 20x times the orders every hour, all done automatically and in real time. Imagine processing over 500,000 orders a month with Eighty6!

    No more slow, manual order entries from whatsapp, voicemails or emails. Now, they’re instantly digital and ready to handle without needing extra hands. This solves a big headache in retail.

    “Eighty6 speed things up and now, with Eighty6 AI Inbox, we’re hitting fast-forward. In just two weeks, suppliers can go fully digital – a process that used to take years.

    Eighty6 AI isn’t just a win for suppliers; it’s a leap for the whole industry, making processes smoother and boosting profits.

    Our AI is super easy to start using, and our team is here to help every step of the way. This is just the start of our journey to bring more AI solutions to improve how suppliers and restaurants work,” says Abdul Kader Saadi, CEO and founder of Eighty6.

    Currently, many retailers are stuck manually entering orders, which can’t be done outside business hours or without staff. With Eighty6 AI, orders via email or voicemail automatically sync with the retailer’s ERP system, and both parties get an instant order confirmation.

    This automation means you can process all orders automatically, without needing more staff and freeing up their time to more efficient tasks, like selling.

    And Tricks To Craft The Best Brunch Menu For Your Restaurant

    With brunch menus gaining popularity lately, many restaurants are looking into hopping on the “Weekend Brunch” trend. Yet, this type of service has an infamous reputation in the industry as many restaurants battle to stand out in the 11am-2pm timeslot. So, to help you get your buffet service off the ground, we have compiled a few tips and tricks on brunch menu crafting.

    Stand out while staying true to your brand

    With dozens of restaurants serving traditional brunch staples such as hash browns and croissants, making sure you offer something that can only be found at your restaurant is crucial to stand out from the crowd. It is also essential to stay true to your brand as one service can easily market another – more on that in a bit – and giving a sense of unity to your different menus will encourage guests to discover them all. Proper menu engineering is key to creating a brunch selection that is unique while still reflecting your identity.

    One brilliant way to do so is by crafting brunch dishes with ingredients you already procure or make in/for your other shifts. This method will allow you to blend your signature cuisine into a brunch menu with the added benefit of cutting supply costs! Try to use unique in-house items to elevate well-known brunch dishes. For example, use the pastrami you use in dinner service for an upgraded omelet or your homemade kimchi for croissant sandwiches, the options are endless.

    Implement proper menu engineering

    A lot of businesses treat brunch, especially weekend brunch, like a way to dispose of the week’s leftovers. With its rise of popularity and importance however, your brunch menu should be treated with the same level of importance as your dinner or lunch carte. It is even arguably more essential to focus on your brunch menu: you need to separate yourself from the competition while still staying true to the brunch feel and making sure your guests do not feel ripped off in pricing. Implement menu hacking tricks by using colors, design, and menu real estate to your advantage.

    In regards to pricing, if most of your ingredients are relatively cheap, such as eggs and bread, charging an exorbitant amount for a dish will not go over well with your guests. Conduct a cost analysis and come up with a cost per meal average. Strike a balance between portraying a high-quality image and charging reasonable prices for dishes. Another neat trick you can use to optimize your menu is to partner up with local businesses: procure ready-made desserts from your local pastry shop, or get your bread pre-sliced the way you want it from the nearby bakery… This lowers your labor cost and saves you tons of time without compromising on quality.

    Properly market your brunch

    Making sure your audience notices you is a prerequisite for any successful brunch, one that many brunches fail at. From the get-go, when looking into brunch menu engineering, whether for a weekend brunch, holiday special or seasonal service, tapping into current food trends boosts your chances immediately. Current emerging trends in the brunch scene include comfort food, plant-based and vegan brunch dishes, and fusion or innovative brunch ideas. Also, beware not to forget beverages, a staple in brunch meals: serving specialty coffees, exotic foreign teas and infusions and even wine is a rising brunch trend.

    Another key factor in restaurant visibility is how you market your brunch service. Use in-house advertising to grow existing customers: making servers advertise the brunch service or using standing flyers on tables etc. can capture existing guests into trying your brunch service.

    Stay on the digital

    Finally, do not forget to invest in the marketing powerhouses that are social media and the internet. With the audience for brunches being varied and including a substantial amount of younger people, the most efficient way to increase restaurant visibility and market your brunch service is through boosting stories, posts and videos on social media, spreading a hashtag, encouraging guests to post pictures and interacting with your audience on social media (giveaways, student/group discounts…). You can even offer online ordering if that’s up your alley.

    Make sure you stand out among the sea of Dubai’s weekend brunches by implementing proper menu engineering and menu hacking to craft a cost-efficient yet high-quality menu, offering something unique by staying true to your identity and improving your restaurant visibility by staying on top of trends and properly marketing your brunch service.

    Michelin Guide Is Finally Coming The Middle East!

    The famed Michelin Guide is finally coming the Middle East! In June, Dubai will officially be the first city in the region to be home to the famous food guide. What is the Michelin guide, how did it come to be, and how will it impact the region’s food and beverage industry? Read on to find out!

    History of the Michelin Guide

    In early 1900s France, the Michelin Tire company printed a guide map that targeted bikers and travelers and showcased information such as nearby restaurants, hotels and gas stations as well as some useful instructions like how to change a tire. The guide was aimed at encouraging wider country travel thus boosting the company’s tire sales.

    As time passed, the guide evolved to be more restaurant-focused and raised the bar of the industry, becoming the most renowned food critique guide in the world. Today, it has expanded to 23 countries worldwide, with the top 5 being:

    • France (623 restaurants)
    • Japan (577 restaurants)
    • Italy (374 restaurants)
    • Germany (307 restaurants)
    • USA (169 restaurants)

    Michelin Guide Selection Criteria

    The Michelin Guide awards deserving restaurants between 1 and 3 stars showcasing the quality of the experience, described as such:

    • One Michelin Star: High-quality cooking that is worth a stop.
    • Two Michelin Stars: Excellent cooking that is worth a detour.
    • Three Michelin Stars: Exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.

    Stars are awarded solely based on the food quality as Michelin inspectors visit the restaurant anonymously and rate the restaurant following these criteria:

    • The quality of the ingredients
    • The mastery of cooking
    • The harmony of flavors
    • The personality of the chef reflected through the cuisine
    • The consistency both over time and across the entire menu

    The guide also includes a number of “covers” ranging from 1 to 5, indicating the “comfort and quality” of the restaurant, essentially an indicator of the service level. Being awarded one star is an incredible feat by itself, and restaurants strive to maintain the quality of their food as the guide is renewed every year.

    In addition to the regular star-based rating, the Bib Gourmand will also be implemented in Dubai: this award is given to restaurants that serve high-quality food at a lower price tag, usually serving a simpler style of cooking. The Guide is going to be released sometime in June and will only be available in digital form on the Michelin website and app.

    Gault&Millau also steps in

    As well as the Michelin Guide, it has been announced that another renowned food critique brands is settling in the UAE nationwide; the famous Gault&Millau will launch in the first half of 2022 and will be holding their annual gala, publishing guides and more.

    Make sure you stand out among the sea of Dubai’s weekend brunches by implementing proper menu engineering and menu hacking to craft a cost-efficient yet high-quality menu, offering something unique by staying true to your identity and improving your restaurant visibility by staying on top of trends and properly marketing your brunch service.

    The Impact of the Michelin Guide

    With the Michelin inspectors starting to roam around the Dubai restaurant scene and the guide releasing in June, the question arises as to how this will affect the local hospitality industry.

    It is the dream of countless aspiring chefs to have their restaurants be featured on the guide, there is therefore no doubt that many of them will take the opportunity to double down on crafting the best dishes they possibly can. An overall improvement in innovation, quality of service, creativity in dishes and a resurgence in chefs’ passion is likely to be observed.

    Another likely outcome is the sight of more and more high-end restaurants popping up across the city, with talented chefs from the Middle East rushing to Dubai desperate to have their restaurant’s name featured in the guide.

    Keep Your Restaurant Inventory Under Control

    The core of every successful restaurant lies within two things; menu and service. A good service keeps the customers happy and a good menu keeps them coming back for more.

    A good menu has the customer’s needs in mind and never disappoints by not having an item or ingredient available. The key to achieving this is by Restaurant inventory management, more specifically, your food inventory.

    What is Restaurant Inventory Management?

    Inventory refers to any items that are used for your business. Keeping track of an inventory means that you know exactly how much of an item is in stock and when you need to order new stock. When it comes to Restaurant inventory control, the inventory includes perishable goods, non-perishable goods, spices, alcohol, cooking equipment, linens, worker uniforms etc…

    One brilliant way to do so is by crafting brunch dishes with ingredients you already procure or make in/for your other shifts. This method will allow you to blend your signature cuisine into a brunch menu with the added benefit of cutting supply costs! Try to use unique in-house items to elevate well-known brunch dishes. For example, use the pastrami you use in dinner service for an upgraded omelet or your homemade kimchi for croissant sandwiches, the options are endless.

    How to conduct a successful inventory?

    A good inventory helps you cut down on waste, keep everything in stock and get an idea of what dishes are popular among your customers, however before we discuss how to conduct an inventory, here are some restaurant inventory terms you need to know:

    FEFO: First expired, first out

    Food waste sheet: It is a paper or file that documents the food and the amount that was discarded due to quality, taste, smell or expiration…etc.

    Menu Engineering:0 It is a method used to determine whether the items are overpriced or underpriced, the amount of ingredients that needs to be used, etc…

    Here are few tools and methods to help you keep your inventory checks running smoothly.

    Vendor Management

    Keeping track of the vendors that you deal with and what products you buy from them along with their purchasing frequency helps cut over-ordering or ordering the same product from two vendors. It also helps you compare prices and get a grasp on the quality of each product, thus cutting costs and increasing profits. If this sounds like a lot of paperwork and time, you can check out some apps and online platforms that will help you automate away from the manual hassle.

    FEFO inventory method

    Cut down the waste caused by expired food and keep your kitchen as sanitary as possible with the FEFO technique. It helps you make sure your guests get the freshest food possible and keep your profit margins up.

    Keep a food waste log

    A food waste log is key when creating a food waste sheet, this helps you know how much food you are wasting and why, allowing you order more judiciously in the future and giving you a better idea what items are popular and what items aren’t.

    Check your POS system

    Most POS systems keep track of exactly how much of every menu item is ordered on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This will help you keep an eye on the popular and least popular items on your menu, streamlining your kitchen prep and giving you a good idea of the product quantities you need to order.

    Invest in an Inventory Management Software

    If staying on top of your inventory sounds like a lot of time, effort, and paperwork, finding an inventory management software that works for your kitchen needs eases the burden off your shoulders and helps you keep everything in one place!