Guy Praisler had no idea what he was getting into, which, he now freely admits, might be the exact reason he decided to give the restaurant industry a shot in the first place.
The enterprise hardly went as planned. When he watched his friend clocking 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. workdays—with a family and little profit to show for it—Praisler convinced him to sell and move on to a different venture.
The experience led Praisler back to what he knows best.
“I’m used to getting into a place and understanding how it works, and translating that into technology—how to take the processes businesses are using and make it efficient,” he says.
After consulting with a group of restaurants, Praisler realized his pitfalls were a common problem in the field. The relationship from vendor to restaurant was convoluted at best, leading him to search for a better, more integrated option—something that wasn’t caged in by a spreadsheet. When the pursuit didn’t satisfy Praisler, he decided to address it himself. In 2011, Praisler began working on Dine Market, which recently released a mobile platform and has around 300 New York City restaurants on board, including industry namesakes Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay, Josh Capon, and recently, Marcus Samuelsson.
The cloud-based platform’s goal is to create a seamless digital marketplace for both parties. “The guy doing the purchasing can now have it in his hand,” Praisler says. “The actual person doing the recipe costing can do it himself. The chef, the owner, the manager, can open the website or the app and get a good picture of what’s going on in the business. I think that’s what makes it efficient. Because now they have information and they can take action in real time.”
Restaurants can place and manage their supply orders, with a 2 percent cost being charged to the vendor on each transaction. The service is free for restaurants.
Purveyors can also compare real-time prices from different vendors, and check a recipe calculator that shows how much each menu item will actually cost.
Praisler explains that this helps restaurants follow trends, as prices for certain items continue to fluctuate. “We know that their profit margin is very small, and as soon as a couple of items change on the recipe, it can change a lot on their availability. Today, there’s really no way to see it in real time.”
In this quarter, Praisler expects Dine Market to grow throughout the east coast and reach the west coast. He says setting up relationships with vendors, who will then bring on their own restaurant clients, will expand the platform quickly. They’ve recently hired a marketing and sales team, he adds.
“This is a very complicated industry,” Praisler says. “The first year in business, we were very focused on one group and after a little bit, an additional group joined the system. We learned from them, learned the business model, learned the industry. … It was important to figure out what works, what’s important, what kind of tool and service we can be, and how we can help the industry. We’re going to continue doing that.”