Alex and his co-founder Sharna who also happens to be his wife are on a mission to help people find out what’s available in restaurants even before they leave home. For some of us who would like to make an informed decision ahead setting off to grab something to eat in a restaurant, this is great news. This saves a lot of time and the embarrassment of not adequately preparing financially if you’ve ever been in that situation.
Although their platform is fairly new, the idea is catching on quick and a lot of restaurants are getting on board. MenufinderGhana.com is simply the new and easy way to check out menus for all your favourite restaurants, thus helping you find the food you want. The platform also makes it possible to leave ratings and reviews of restaurants you visit.
Techpreneur Magazine reached out to Alex and Sharna to find out more about their ideals and the platform they ‘birthed’ together.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves
Alex: I’m a 38 year old British Born Ghanaian who is married to a British Born Jamaican. I came to settle in Ghana 2 years ago after an 8 year stint in South Africa.
Sharna: I’m british born of Jamaican heritage mother of 2. I’m a total foodie who loves to cook and experiment with different cuisines. Professionally I come from a fashion background.
How did the idea of Menufinder Ghana come about and how long have you been working on the platform?
Alex: It’s funny! It was actually back in May for mother’s day and I asked my wife, Sharna, if she’d like to go out to get something to eat to celebrate, so she said sure and that she’d like to check out a new restaurant down the road from us in East Legon. So I said cool, have a look online and check their menu to see if she fancied the food that they had. She went online and couldn’t find anything. So we left the house to check and it was closed, so I suggested another popular spot 10 minutes away, she looked online and could only find a partial menu, so I finally suggested a 3rd option and again there was nothing online.
She then finally said “for goodness sake somebody should…” and then it hit me and I said “we are somebody” I knew that she was about to say that somebody should put the menus online and make them available for people.
Then the brain just started ticking, we made some notes and laid out the basic structure of what form we wanted the platform to take, how it was going to work, what it was going to look like.
I contacted a developer and took him step by step through the vision and requirements to build an online platform that could centralise the menu information from the various restaurants.
We launched our website on 1st October 2017 so we are quite new but are seeing healthy engagement from users.
Menufinder currently serves a niche market; that is checking out menus for great restaurants, do you believe the platform can scale into other areas?
Alex: Yes I think that there are definitely areas that the business could scale into. The business of food is a very popular one and quite a lucrative one so anything that revolves around food and can cleverly enhance people’s experience around the quest for information about food, the dining experience and accessibility to food will do well.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Alex: First thing I do in the morning is check google analytics, so see how many users we have had on the site and see what their behaviour is like, i.e. which restaurants are they looking up, how long are they spending on the site, which country and device are they accessing from etc.
Then look at our roadmap in terms of which restaurants we want to get on the platform and by when.
Run through the site to scan of errors, user experience improvements, constantly viewing to see how we can improve the service.
Check in with the team to ensure that all the cogs are turning as they should.
What are you most proud of professionally or personally?
Alex: Being able to settle back in Ghana with my family and see them happy. Also conceptualising MenufinderGhana and getting it off the ground with minimal hesitation in a short space of time.
Sharna: Personally, it would have to be migrating twice (from UK to South Africa, South Africa to Ghana) and being able to apply myself and settle in to different cultures.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
Alex: The biggest challenge for me was understanding that failure is a part of the process. I have built a platform before, sunk money into the project, everyone thought it was going to be a winner but it tanked because I didn’t understand the importance of the right team and I didn’t focus enough on the functionality.
There’s a quote from Ben Lang which says “Build a product that solves your own needs and never stop improving it”
And this is precisely the approach we’ve taken with MenufinderGhana.com. You’ll notice there’s a certain aesthetic with our website, our Instagram and Facebook feeds and also with our upcoming app which is currently in development.
How do you define success?
Alex: Success to me is achieving your ultimate goals in a way that has left you blessed so that you can be a blessing to others in huge ways at any given opportunity.
Sharna: I define success as knowing your purpose and actually living your purpose.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Alex: The courage to just start something. True entrepreneurs have always felt some pull inside to do something great, build something from scratch, even if you don’t know how you’re going to do it there’s something inside that tells you that you can do it and you can make it. You’ve just got to put one foot in front of the other and go for it.
I understand that not everybody can do just that due to family and other commitments but the one difference with entrepreneurs is that they just start! Start it and build it as you go along.
Sharna: I think the difference is entrepreneurs tend to be risk takers to some degree.
If you were offered a million dollars today for Menufinder, would you sell?
Alex: No I wouldn’t, I’d scale, not sell. There’s huge potential in what MenufinderGhana.com can scale into and we do have every intention of expanding across Africa once we reach a healthy state of maturity with the business here in Ghana.
What is your take on Ghana’s tech ecosystem now and how it can be improved over the next decade?
Alex: I think there are a huge number of tech entrepreneurs, it’s great to see institutions like MEST getting stuck in teaching people various aspects of the business of tech and assisting some to get seed funding etc.
I think the way to improve it is to create a culture of tech, to celebrate it not just in mention but with financial backing and investment from both public and private sector. If you look at places like Israel there’s a reason they call Israel the startup capital of the world, because there’s a culture and community of investing in new tech and smart solutions. Places like Silicon Valley don’t just happen they are a purposeful creation and it’s about time we follow suit and create such districts in Africa.
What are some of your business goals over the next five years?
Alex: To have successfully taken MenufinderGhana and have evolved it into MenufinderAfrica with operations in several African countries with full delivery and online reservation functionality available within the app. Also having implemented a few interesting things that I cannot mention at the moment but we see as very innovative value adds for our users.
Lastly, where can people find out more about you?
Business Instagram: menufinderghana