Hospitality disruptor Zeitgeist are asking people to “vote with their dollar” if they want to see Sydney’s latest vegan diner and bar.

When Grace Watson and Joe Pagliaro (pictured), who run the popular vegan Zeitgeist Milkbar in Sydney’s CBD, had the idea to open up a vegan-friendly diner, they brought an innovative approach to their next venture.

They decided to test their idea of an “inner-city go-to restaurant and bar for herbivores” by offering it up to crowdfunding.

The duo knew that hospitality businesses can struggle to establish themselves. Many owners spend big on fitouts and equipment before they even open their doors. Often they don’t make back their investment. So far Grace and Joe have only spent $100 on a logo design.

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Taking a tech approach to hospitality

Instead of making a big up-front investment in an untried concept they’ve launched a crowd-funding campaign using Pozible. Their goal is to raise $22,000 for the cost of setting up the business. [At the time of writing, they had raised more than $8000].

Supporters have the opportunity to contribute as much or as little as they like to the campaign, with a variety of rewards. For example, a $25 contribution will get you a dinner for two.

Launching a crowd-funding campaign gives them the chance to test market demand for their idea. According to Pozible, project creators are able to, “present their ideas to a connected audience … to give them the best possible chance of success.”

Although a lot of people tell Grace and Joe they would love to see a new vegan diner open up in Sydney, the pair are asking them to “vote with their dollar” to make it happen.

It’s a great approach. If the crowd-funding campaign is successful and they raise the $22,000, they’ll know that there are customers who will come to the venue and support their business. If it doesn’t work out, they’ve only spent $100.

This fail-fast approach has been inspired by Joe’s fascination with the tech industry. He hopes to shake up hospitality by taking an innovative approach and proving that there is a strong market demand for ethical vegan options.

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Cloud-based integrated systems

Joe’s tech-savvy approach to the business carries through to their systems. In their existing venue, Zeitgeist use a combination of Kounta, Tyro, and Xero for a completely cloud-based and fully integrated system.

Kounta is used to record transactions and keep on top of inventory, with data flowing back into Xero for easy reconciliation and accounting. Tyro simplifies payments with EFTPOS integration into Kounta, and automated bill payments from Xero.

Kounta founder and CEO Nick Cloete likes the new direction in the sector.

“There is a new breed of hospitality emerging driven by passionate entrepreneurs, more efficient service and supply models and seamlessly connected tech. It’s good to see it starting to kick on,” he said.

Hospitality with a mission

Their new venue will be a place for people to go out at night, have a beer, or take a date, with a plethora of plant-based foods to choose from.

“Most vegan places out there are passionate about changing the world but they don’t come from a hospitality background,” Joe said.

“We want to create a space that’s vegan friendly as well being a great place to hang out.”

For more information about the Zeitgeist Pozible campaign, go here.

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