November 2, 2021

HI Hub Incubator Program Finalist Martins Udotai Tells Us about His Startup, Dinesurf

Dinesurf is a restaurant reservation platform for diners in Africa that helps them find places to eat and makes reservations hassle-free. Dinesurf also offers technology support for restaurants.

Dinesurf is one of the finalists in the HI Hub Incubator Program. Martins Udotai, founder and CEO tells us more about the business.

What product or service does Dinesurf offer?
In Nigeria and of course, Africa, many people spend lots of time trying to find, research and make restaurant reservations.  Dinesurf makes it easier and safer to make restaurant reservations online. Additionally, Dinesurf makes it faster for diners to discover and research restaurants, and instantly reserve them. It also helps restaurants run more efficiently and increase their return on investment.

How did you come up with the idea for this business?
I came up with the idea for Dinesurf on the heels of my parent’s anniversary, when my brother and I were planning to surprise them with a nice dinner. Since he was in Nigeria, he tried to take the lead on this, and we realized there weren’t a lot of options when it came to making reservations and even finding a restaurant. My brother and I spent about three months researching how we might be able to solve this problem, reading articles about OpenTable, and even talking to restaurants in Nigeria almost every day about how to solve this problem/if they’d be willing to work with us.

Why did you decide to participate in the HI Hub Incubator program?
Personally, I like this program because it’s industry specific.  When I came across the HI Hub Incubator program in the NYU newsletter, especially in light of all I’ve been doing with Dinesurf, it made perfect sense to apply for it.

What do you enjoy most about creating your own startup business?
I love solving problems with solutions I came up with…moving things from ideas to solutions.  Additionally, I love building products, like building my own startups or helping others using tech solutions.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating founding a startup?
I would say two things:

  1. Just do it.
  2. Build painkillers, not vitamins.

What is something you learned through this process that you wish you’d known before you created your startup?
Avoid analysis paralysis! You might just want to make the perfect app or the perfect site, but it’s better to use incremental progress.

What does the future of your startup look like in an ideal world?
It is disheartening to think that even in the fastest growing city in Africa, with all the economic activity and growth, especially in the hospitality sectors, they lack the necessary technology to foster and sustain that growth.  In the ideal world, I want diners and restaurants across Africa to have access to affordable restaurant reservations and management technology. In Nigeria and across Africa, food is not just fuel, food is culture and present in every celebration.

Have you worked with any alumni or mentors on this project? If so, who and what was that experience like?
So far, I’ve been working with about 5 mentors: Berrin Avcilar, Grant Guinn, Gene Quinn, Erik Hastings, Sal Esposito Jnr. They have all been so helpful and I’m looking forward to working with them more!

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