Last Updated: By TRUiC Team
Launched as a solution for hospitality businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, sunday is an app that allows patrons to pay their restaurant bills through a QR code.
Interview With Christine de Wendel
Describe your product or service:
“sunday is a fully integrated solution built for restaurants, bars, pubs, cafés, and hotel customers to pay for their food via a QR code.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Mission: sunday turns the tedious 15 minutes it takes to pay at a restaurant into a quick, simple experience that takes less than 10 seconds. You scan a QR code, pay, and walk away. In the meantime, restaurateurs can focus on what matters to them: cooking incredible food and delivering an amazing guest experience.
- Simple — building powerful solutions through intuitive design
- Trust — transparent and accountable in everything we do
- Beyond — a collective journey, boldly driven by fearlessness
Goal: sunday offers a faster way to pay. We are going to disrupt the payment service industry starting with hospitality (first restaurants, then hotels). Eventually we will move into retail, an industry that has not changed in years and is ready for disruption!
Recruitment: We hire people who are passionate about hospitality and want to make a difference. We are seeking candidates who have startup, scale-up experience, and would love to be in an industry that is all about serving people. Discover sunday with Christine de Wendel, CEO & Co founder — recruiting video by Christine de Wendel.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Private company, Series A funding by DST Global, Coatue, and New Wave.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“The company has three co-founders and a CTO among many more talented employees. In total, sunday counts about 370 employees to date.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I have always had a passion for big ideas and innovation. Prior to this, I was Chief Operating Officer of ManoMano, one of France’s fastest-growing tech companies and Europe’s leading online platform for home improvement. Before joining ManoMano, I spent seven years at Zalando, Europe’s largest online fashion retailer, where I built up the Paris office and managed Zalando’s French business. I am passionate about the European tech industry and have become an expert in scaling startups.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“My fellow co-founders Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux, the entrepreneurs and foodies behind Big Mamma (Italian restaurant group in London, France, and Spain), developed the initial idea by putting QR codes on their restaurant tables during the pandemic. The initial adoption rate was so high that sunday was born.
We teamed up to officially create the company in April 2021 and scale the concept across five countries: US, UK, Canada, Spain, and France. The results have been tremendous, which continues to keep us empowered to move forward, with over 70% adoption rate, 18% increase in tip averages, 12% increase in check average, plus lower transaction fees than competitors. It is also rewarding to see our customer base understand the value this solution brings to their business model.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Sunday is the day of the week when you can spend time freely. Our company (sunday) helps to give back that free time. A meal is not only feeding people, but it is also enhancing the best moment of their day. As a faster method of payment, sunday can re-empower people with their time.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“As challenges relate to our internal team: At a high level, language and cultural differences require a hyperlocal, intrinsic understanding of specific markets. At the same time, we need to have the mindset of a global, scalable company. Our team also works across several different time zones internationally, so that requires effective time management and alignment in communication.
As challenges relate to our customers: When there is an outage or issue with tech integrations, this can kill trust with restaurants. Whether it is for five minutes or up to one hour that the product doesn’t work, it is so discouraging to see staff lose trust and enthusiasm.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Small to midsize restaurants because the sales cycle is shorter and we can talk to decision-makers quickly. We identify ‘local heroes’ in each market.
Now that sunday has signed more than 3,000 restaurants, we are starting to focus on mid-market and enterprise brands to create real ‘fly wheel’ of adoption
With that momentum, eventually customers are going to start requesting sunday, then ideally they will get impatient if they can’t use our solution!”
What's your marketing strategy?
“At this point in our deployment, we mainly focus on B2B. Once we get into restaurants, then we can target the end consumer. If we are not in restaurants, there is no point in going to end consumer
The bulk of our efforts have been pushing to Facebook and Instagram investment — filling sales pipeline to build the B2B element. Now, we are getting traction in the market to launch the B2C part. For example, once we have enough B2B traction in downtown Paris, then we can activate consumer marketing in that city. Of course, there are different stages for different markets (i.e., Paris vs. Austin)”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Initially, through the Big Mamma restaurant group and connections across Spain, France, and London. Once we entered the US, we started with a hyper-local focus on Atlanta, Georgia, and rapidly built our sales strategy from east to west coasts. As previously mentioned, we target ‘local heroes’ and aim to move business development forward with key decision-makers.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
- Total addressable market
- Customer acquisition cost
- Customer retention rate
- Lifetime value
- Customer Aq. Cost recovery time
- Monthly burn
- Profit margin
What is your favorite startup podcast or book?
“Peter Thiel’s ‘0 to 1.’”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“The emotional roller coaster is impressive. I go from having phenomenal highs to feeling like I am eating gravel. What a ride!”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“This is really tough with three kids at home. I set boundaries, and I make sure my priorities are very clear: Dinner with my family is non-negotiable if I am not traveling. Weekends are mostly off-limits for work, as are family vacations. Frankly, without my fantastic husband, this juggling act would not be possible!! I have not yet figured out how to carve out real time for myself. Suggestions most welcome!”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“First things first, I now carve out one hour every morning for the most important topics of the day. Airplane time is surprisingly productive.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I have trained myself to say ‘no.’ I am a pleaser, so this is a huge challenge.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I spent my first three years at Bain & Company in Paris and New York as a consultant. I cannot recommend better training. The management consultant toolkit is the best foundation I have yet to see.”
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Meet the $124 Million Food Tech Startup That Is Changing the Service Industry
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