App8 - Hani & Elias



Interview: Nikki Gillingham, Blue Whale Communications

Photography: Marianne Rothbauer, Rothbauer Studio

Tell us, a little bit about how App8 works?

App8 allows restaurant guests to pay from their phone without waiting for the printed bill or credit card machine. Guests can see a detailed list of ordered items and prices through the app in real time. When they finished their meal, they can pay from their phone with a couple taps and leave whenever they want. A receipt is automatically emailed to their inbox. The restaurant is notified of the paid bill and everyone is happy.

Was there a moment that inspired the creation of App8?

The moment came from a personal experience that most people can relate to. Elias was at a restaurant with a group of people, they finished their meal and had to head out for an event. It was a busy night and the waiter was doing their best yet the bill hadn't yet arrived. At the same time a long lineup was at the door waiting for the table to be released. It was a the frustrating thought of "the experience was amazing up until this point; why can't I just pay and leave". That was the moment.


What was the feeling you had when the wheels were first in motion to develop App8?

It's a mixture of fear and excitement. Remember when you're younger, you start to watch a new Indiana Jones movie, and get sucked into the story line and feel as if you're part of it, well imagine the same feeling of starting a new great story then amplify it by larger challenges, larger rewards and an immense sense of adventure and responsibility.

How has Ottawa played an important role as a place to develop and launch App8?

Ottawa's closely knit community helped us on every level: our first clients, colleagues, friends and family that we have in Ottawa were a key factor of the early adoption and the spark that started it all.

Ottawa also has a unique technology and innovation footprint, it was essential to find the talent that we need to develop a high quality product. From software developers to marketing and sales, people in Ottawa were willing to jump in to exciting adventures.


Are there any Ottawa businesses that have played an important role in getting to this point?

Absolutely, without the support of many local business we would not have been able to start. Local restaurants were willing to take a chance on a new concept and become early adopters. These included Father & Sons, Clocktower Brew Pubs, Al's Diner and El Camino.

Ottawa also has a large support network to help grow startups. Our neighbours from our co-working space (My Byward Office) and innovation hubs (Innovation Gatineau and Invest Ottawa) played a big supporting role in the launch of App8.

When you aren't busy with staff, tech development and rollout what do you do for fun?

Both of us are socialites and often find ourselves exploring the sights and sounds of the city with friends. Elias is a fan of the outdoors, and does his best to get to a ski hill or a hiking trail when he can. We also play a weekly game of squash together. It's fun and keeps us in shape. 


Do you still have time to go out to restaurants? And if so which ones are your current favourite?

We now go to restaurants more than we ever had, we love our App8 restaurants, and have had the opportunity to truly explore their menus and atmosphere. For example Father & Sons - well known for student bar atmosphere but also have unreal pizzas. Clocktowers - great local brews with a cozy atmosphere but also have amazing wings (which is a deal on Tuesdays).  El Camino's tacos & margs - hands-down always awesome.

Otherwise, our Ottawa Restaurant favourites list is HUGE, we did a quick round-table with the team members in the room and got Aroma Meze, Sir John A, Fraser Cafe, North and Navy as part of our avourite list.

You are located right in the Byward Market. Does this change how you operate rather than being out in Kanata with the other tech companies?

Yes. The presence in the market is strategic for us. Besides offering unlimited entertainment and meal choices in an always-lively atmosphere, being close to our early adopting clients has allowed us to support them and to listen to their needs. From the early days to today, App8 is built on the needs of the restaurants we serve, and their guests. Our ability to stay plugged in, build relationships and listen to our clients and users is extremely important.

Tom Green is from Ottawa. How would you get him to start using App8?

How would Tom feel about enjoying his pre-show burgers and pints with peace of mind?! To be in control of jetting out to make it to the show on time; after all, he is probably headlining. Tom, don't let a busy restaurant, a bill printing machine or credit card machine dictate when it's appropriate to leave - when it's time to go, you go! You're TOM GREEN! :)

I'd also add, with App8, you're not just a 'seat number' on the restaurant system, you're a name. Tom Green... well that's a famous name that might warrant some VIP treatment.

What is new and exiting coming up for App8 that you can tell us about?

So many secrets! What we can tell you is that there is an exciting list of new restaurants that will be supporting App8 payments in 2019. We can't wait to share the news as they come on board.


What is your favourite place to grab a bite to eat in the Byward Market?

That's a tough question, there are many great places around, it really depends on what you feel like in the moment, you can't go wrong with El Camino or Corazone Del Maize, and if you feel like grilled chicken, Pili Pili will have your fix.

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