Written by Peter Chien, Co-founder & Chief Foodie at YourTable. Photo: Co-founders Peter Chien and Yvonne Yi Ru.
The story behind YourTable
It was a personal problem for myself after graduating from U of T/Sheridan and working for a few years. I was often eating alone because it was hard to make plans with friends since we are so busy with life, work, family obligations, and often had difficulties agreeing on something due to different restaurant locations and food preferences. From this, YourTable was born.
We are solving the problem of people eating alone because they have no other choice.
The biggest mistake we made
Despite having heard very successful entrepreneurs like Jack Ma from Alibaba caution against these mistakes because they made them too, I learned this the hard way by making the same mistake.
Jack Ma brought in the previous VP of Marketing for American Express to head their marketing department. Jack asked him to prepare a marketing plan, and the entire company only had $5 million U.S. The person came back with a marketing plan that costs 11 million U.S. over the next year. Jack Ma was clearly speechless as anyone would be, and told him again the entire company only had $5 million U.S. The person replied that he never did a marketing plan for under $20 million previously at American Express.
We brought in too many people for different departments at the same time, this was my fault. We had talented and experienced people from various established companies in different departments like marketing and social media, tech, UI/UX design, sales, and photo/video creation. I thought more experienced people from huge companies would help our startup do everything faster and grow faster as a result. I am sure you can guess what happened, it backfired. At one point, we had ten people on the team, and during meetings, everybody wanted to talk and contribute their ideas and suggestions. While that was great, we were spending too much time talking and not enough time doing and executing.
In startups, a person’s passion and attitude matter more than their job title and experience or education.
It’s much easier to teach certain skills than to transform a mindset to match the attitude to a startup’s hustle lifestyle, where you often have only one person wearing different hats and taking care of multiple areas at once. Hire passionate people that believe in your dreams and mission, those who are a good fit for the company, because when the time gets tough, they will pull together as a team and willing to make sacrifices for each other and the company.