According to the Federation of Small Businesses, small businesses with 0-49 employees represent 99.3% of the total business population in the UK. Out of the 5 million businesses in England, 1.1 million of those are located in London. Since 2010 the number of businesses in London has increased by 48%.
London is a label which impacts branding and denotes values such as traditional, trustworthy and premium quality. For a small business starting out the London, label helps build an instantly recognisable identity, which might otherwise take years to form. London is brimming with trend-savvy, innovative and original start-ups, with plenty of consumers ready to explore the wide variety of choice competition is fierce.
Join the .london community
Luckily, London is not exclusive to just the local population, and people all over the world can tune in online to get a taste of the London buzz. A .london domain is a great way to connect with the online London community and associate you or your brand with this great city.
Why Inamo joined the .london community
We recently caught up with Noel from Inamo, a London based business to find out more about his start-up journey and why he chose the .london domain.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
My business partner Danny and I sat next to each other at a friend’s birthday in a restaurant 12 years ago, and were really struggling to catch a waiter’s attention for another drink. We wanted to buy more and give this establishment our money, but they weren’t letting us.
We thought, wouldn’t it be great to reach down, touch the table, and another drink would arrive
Danny already had in mind ways of integrating technology seamlessly into the dining experience, we brainstormed the concept then and there, and have worked together on it ever since. ‘We created the E-Table™ technology ourselves and opened Inamo Soho in 2008 to prove our concept. We opened a second restaurant, Inamo St James in December 2010, which later relocated to Covent Garden in January 2016. We recently opened Inamo Camden in December 2016.’
Order when you want, get your bill when you want, and call a waiter at the touch of a button
‘The human element is very much still present. Guests can see a tasteful image of the dish/drink item they’re considering projected onto the plate in front of them, with a price and description to the right. They can then decide to add it to their order, and whenever they’re ready can send that directly off to the kitchen/bar to be prepared.’
At Inamo Covent Garden and Camden we’ve introduced a tablet-based version of our ordering system, which synchronises with the ability to order on-table. We also created a productised version of our projection based table system that can be easily and affordably retro-fitted into existing spaces and features increased animation.’
Q: What challenges did you face when setting up the business?
The biggest challenges have been around openings, or when we introduce a new technological element. For our first restaurant opening in 2008 we’d only been able to have one test unit on a rig at our software architect’s house.
His wife was delighted that their spare bedroom was occupied by a big wooden frame for over 6 months
We invited lots of people round to put the system through its paces, but then putting that into action in an operational restaurant in Soho was a big step. However, I think the biggest challenge has been learning about and honing restaurant operational processes, which are highly complex in their own right.
Q: How important was it to have an online presence for your business and why did you choose a .london domain name?
An online presence was and is vital for our business, we would not survive without it. Over 60% of our guests’ book through our website or other online resources. The website is a fundamental part of communicating our concept, menu, location, promotions, and booking options to our guests.
We’re proud to be a part of one of the greatest cities in the world, and to participate in that via the .london community
We chose a .london domain because we wanted a domain that united our London based venues and communicated our location clearly to our visitors. The domain name offers a memorable and distinctive web address, associating us closely with London as a brand and the city’s enviable reputation.
Q: What made you realise you wanted to set up your own business?
It was that “Sliding Doors” moment of sitting down next to Danny 12 years ago, if I’d been on a different table who knows where I’d be now! Beyond that, the creative possibilities of developing a concept from scratch and then seeing it take shape in reality was, and is very exciting for me.
Q: What were the key obstacles you experienced in setting up your business and how did you overcome them?
Learning about the technology and restaurant business from the ground up, with little relevant experience in either. We’ve overcome these by being fortunate enough to work with people of skill and experience, a fair bit of graft and trial & error!
There are also current difficulties for the hospitality industry in terms of recruitment, challenging rates bills, and more. So, there is always a new opportunity for learning!
Q: What are you looking forward to long term from your business?
We’ll soon likely have a feature on the tables to see what music is playing alongside the corresponding artwork, as well a jukebox function.
We’re also developing the CMS (Content Management System) for the restaurants to make it easier to drop new content into iFrames on the tables- so that guests can have custom video, presentations, or any other web based content featured on their tables. We’re looking at a major reinvention of the bar space area at our Soho restaurant to make it more of an interactive games based experience.
Longer term, we’re looking to increasingly prove our concept so that we can grow the brand both inside and outside of London.