A STUDENT who started a table service app now worth £33 million has said being given a chance by the University of Sussex allowed them to be “so successful” during the pandemic.

Ethan Martin, 23, and Harry Soar, 24, both from Southend in Essex, started their table ordering app, Round, while studying their degrees in 2018 and said the university's Northfield bar gave them the chance to "figure out a few things" in 2019.

Ethan, who spoke from the company’s office based in The Lanes, said they saw other young people “gravitating” towards table ordering apps such as Wetherspoons’s app and realised there was nothing similar in the student union bars they were hanging out in.

The former business management student said it seemed like a “no-brainer” to come up with an app for students “who want technology in their life” and do “everything” from their phone.

The pandemic certainly helped the app in terms of the need from bars and restaurants to stay open while remaining socially distanced, but Ethan said the chance to trial the app in 2019 at Sussex University allowed them to be ready for the sudden demand they faced.

He said: “It was Uni of Sussex that gave us that test bed to learn. That’s why we have been so successful in the last year because we didn’t start this 12 months ago.

"Every business needs time to figure out a few things and learn their way to ultimately having something that is really useable and good.

“But it was through having six months to a year of being in trial so that when the moment came, the first lockdown, immediately everyone drew their attention to ordering apps to be able to open bars, pubs and restaurants again.

The Argus: The app is now used by venues all across the country.The app is now used by venues all across the country.

“That’s when we really exploded into the market, we signed deals with the largest hospitality groups in the country such as Greene King.

"We literally went from having a few dozen outlets before July 4 last year, to having 500 overnight. We have seen over a million installs of the app from then.”

The app, which aims to be the “Uber" for ordering at bars, has recently started its next round of investment in the hope to expand further.

Ethan added: “Our north star, what we all are aiming for, we don’t know how long it will take to get there but we want to be the Uber of in-venue ordering.

“Any bar, café, restaurant, pub, anywhere you go you should be able to order on one app on your phone. That’s what we’re trying to create, the north star we’re heading for.”

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