©Mr. Winston

About Mr. Winston

  • Founders: Koen Lavrijssen
  • Founded in: 2015
  • Employees: 2-10
  • Money raised: -
  • Ultimate goal: Making the workload of hospitality staff as easy as possible so that they can focus on the customer experience.

A lot of POS systems in the hospitality sector are outdated and complex. Koen Lavrijssen decided that things could be simplified and Mr. Winston was born: a POS system with the personality of a butler.

What is Mr. Winston?

“In the first place, it’s a kind of POS system. You can loosely interpret that as ‘something that keeps track of the bills,’ but in a hospitality business, it should be more than that. Namely, a system that relays the wishes of consumers. The underlying idea of our product, is that it is a ‘classic butler’. Winston assists the host in a personal way. It is a collection of digital solutions, designed to make the staff’s work as easy as possible.”

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    What are examples of solutions?

    “Mr. Winston gives staff tips and reminders about certain things, just like a butler does. If a staff member hasn’t been at a table for a while, the waiters are notified. That way they don’t forget that one table around the corner. There is also the option of having Mr. Winston make recommendations. For example, when someone orders a special beer. The staff can then see: “These people are coming for a drink, maybe they would like some nachos or croquettes with it?” So they don’t have to consider those kinds of simple but important questions, and they can focus on the customer experience.”

    How did the idea of your POS system come into being?

    “Other hospitality systems work from a registration mindset, as in, sending information from the staff to the manager. They are not set up to support communication with each other. Sometimes you type in a table number. Then you can see what’s on that table, but you don’t have an overview of the other tables. And if you place an order, it has to be done in a rather odd and cumbersome way. I used to work in the catering industry myself. Whenever I worked with people, I would spend half an hour working with the system and mistakes would still be made. Whereas in principle, it doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a list of what the customer can order, and then a list of the products that have been ordered. These appear on the receipt. However, that had been designed in such a way that it was still complicated.

    The chef and hospitality manager were really struggling with the outdated POS system. Then the two joked, ‘Koen, you can program, can’t you make a system?’ All right, I thought. After a few months of making prototypes, I developed it into a first version over the next two years with guys from my study.

    The BESI Award is a Tilburg prize for students who help solve a social problem. Lavrijssen won the award with Mr. Winston. ©Tilburg University

    What were some challenges?

    “The hospitality market is complex. There are a limited number of software suppliers. However, there are plenty of dealerships that resell that software. In the beginning, we did everything ourselves. We developed the product, but also the technology behind it. We also did the marketing, sales, implementation and support. And all that with a team of two to three people, so we decided to outsource part of the business. We are currently in talks with potential dealers. They can buy the software from us and combine it with their own hardware and services.

    Also, we could have pushed ahead sooner. We quickly went from ten to a hundred locations, but were unable to sustain that growth. If we had used our initial funding differently, we would have been able to build up what we have now more quickly. The company has grown healthily and is in good shape, but we could have been further along by now.”

    Read previous instalments in this series here.

    About the author

    Author profile picture Mees van Dijk is a freelance investigative journalist, with a keen interest in innovation and technological developments.