‘Struggling student’, 23, became CEO of £33m company with clever idea – ‘Take the leap’

‘Struggling student’, 23, became CEO of £33m company with clever idea – ‘Take the leap’

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Life after university can be daunting for any graduate, especially when they are trying to find work placements or a job. For Ethan Martin, he exclusively told Express.co.uk about his success story which saw him leaving his “struggling” student states behind and turned a very clever idea into a reality. Three years on, the business Ethan created has been valued at £33million. 

Based in Brighton, 23-year-old Ethan created ROUND – the leading hospitality ordering app – in 2018. 

With ROUND, customers can order and pay for food and drink in one place, while ordering at multiple venues through a single platform, getting rid of the need for numerous apps from different venues on their devices. 

And Ethan’s insights into the millennial generation and their use of technology, along with his entrepreneurial mentality, passion and drive have been key to ROUND’s success. 

He told Express.co.uk about inspiration for the app and how it came during his time as a student. 

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When he realised the app’s potential Ethan decided to take a year out of university and focus all his time and energy on his passion for being an entrepreneur. 

“While at university, I was looking for placement work and really struggling to get any leads but then realised, this was my opportunity to turn my idea into a reality,” he said. 

“There was an opportunity to disrupt how we purchase in-venue, making it easier for customers and businesses – increasing convenience and revenue.

“ROUND solves key issues for both venues and consumers alike; for the consumer, it might be lost time queuing at the bar or having to download lots of different apps to order from different venues. 

“For the venue, lost sales and poor customer service due to queueing and not being able to upsell are areas of concern for venues getting back on their feet post-COVID. 

“ROUND helps venues increase their sales by up to 17 percent,” he added. 

While ROUND helps venues be financially more successful, “three years later and here we are, after late nights, hours of sweat and hard work” ROUND is now “the UK’s leading in-venue order app”. 

Expanding on how the app works, Ethan explained: “We have all been in a busy venue, struggling to get served and having to compete with a crowded bar. 

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“For venues, the last thing they want are frustrated customers that their staff aren’t able to get to. 

“I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a universal system which meant you could order from and to your table, or even ahead, no matter where you were going. 

“You have Uber to get you places, AirBnB to find a place to stay, Just Eat to deliver food, so why not an app which orders drinks to your table?” He asked. “That’s where ROUND was born. 

“Increased digitalisation – such as order to table apps like ROUND – will help the industry move forward, allowing venues to manage the demanding workload and make up lost revenue – while creating a better experience for their customers.”

As for what Ethan’s advice is to anyone else considering starting their own business or kickstarting their idea, he said: “To any budding entrepreneurs out there, my advice would be to take the leap and do it. 

“There is a lot of time and graft that goes into creating your own business, but seeing your business make an impact in its industry, as ROUND has done, makes it all worthwhile. 

“The key to success is surrounding yourself with the right team. At ROUND we have an incredible team invested in making ROUND a house-hold name and to help continually enhance the hospitality sector.” 

With more than £30million orders going through the app in the past twelve months and over 1,000 venues on the app, ROUND has been helping to evolve both the experience customers have and the way venues operate.

On October 19, ROUND will open for investment via the online platform Crowdcube, giving the public the chance to invest in the company.

This further investment will allow the business to develop features to capitalise on its position as the dominant player in hospitality ordering tech.

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