Few sectors pivoted in the pandemic quite like the hospitality industry. And a Cardiff-based fintech named Yoello was at the forefront of enabling this remarkable transformation.
The brainchild of CEO and Founder Sina Yamani, Yoello’s online ordering and payments platform has brought customers and merchants much closer together, making transactions cheaper and increasing businesses revenues by 30% – disrupting the payments market by utilising open banking technology, to such an extent that Yoello was announced as the top growing fintech in the UK in February: winning Tech Nation’s Rising Star 3.0 Fintech Sector Award (and joining a prestigious list of alumni that includes Monzo, Revolut, Just Eat and Deliveroo).
Opportunities are clearly there for us to grow.
“I was thrilled that we have been recognised as the UK’s stand out rising star Fintech by Tech Nation; and to have won a place on Tech Nation’s acclaimed Fintech growth programme” says Sina. “We’re honoured to be recognised by such a prestigious programme, and it reflects just how far we have come in a short space of time since we launched our mobile ordering product in July last year. The opportunities are clearly there for us to grow, but it’s feet-on-the-ground time for me and the team too. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by an exceptional and experienced senior management team with a wealth of experience to ensure we reach our potential. We don't just want to be another Fintech company, we want to ensure we’re recognised globally in that top 1%.”
From a ‘nice-to-have’ to an absolute necessity.
“Our mobile ordering and payments platform has rapidly gone from being nice-to-have hospitality tech to an absolute necessity. We knew this was always going to happen at some point – by our calculations, cutting out the middleman would save the industry £8bn every year – but of course that journey accelerated to become an ‘adapt or die’ situation given the necessity of running a hospitality business safely with social distancing and at a reduced capacity.”
It was clear that retail and hospitality needed to modernise. That’s what we’ve been supporting.
As graduate of Cardiff University, what encouraged Sina to pursue his vision for contactless ordering and cashless payment?
“By the time I came to finish my time at Cardiff University I had gained an in-depth knowledge of payments and technology, it became clear to me as a customer that the hospitality industry needed to modernise and take advantage of technology. COVID has clearly pushed this need in the most dramatic of ways. Now, two thirds of consumers say they’re open to cashless methods and 75% say they’ll now make choices out of home based on how safe they feel. Savvy operators have been rethinking the role of tech and have created a new normal which elevates the customer experience – and opens up more profit potential for their business. This is what and where we’ve been supporting.”
It’s important to have mentors – and more practical help too.
A board member of Fintech Wales and strong advocate of collaboration across the CCR fintech community, what support has Sina experienced during Yoello’s journey from a start-up to a company that now employs 40+ people?
“Gareth Lewis at Delio has been a brilliant mentor, always sharing and encouraging me. He tells it like it is and that’s what you need to hear. Being the CEO of any start-up can be an overwhelming experience, especially starting out so it’s important to feel there’s like-minded people on hand to bounce ideas off and receive some brutal, constructive criticism from.”
“It wasn’t easy being a 23-year old with no track record, looking for a half million pound investment. It took an incredible amount of networking, time and resource to get to launch. There needs to be big shout outs to Business Wales and Fintech Wales for all their help – and Cardiff Council too, who collaborated with us to bring Castle Quarter Cafe, which generated over a quarter of a million pounds for the local economy within the first 10 days of opening.”
“Probably the biggest ‘Thank You’ goes to the Barclays Accelerator programme for providing us access to their network and support in scaling Yoello Is there enough support for fintech here in Wales? Arguably, there can never be enough, but we need to focus on giving our fintech businesses what they need to grow and compete in a global market.”
This shows what’s possible in fintech across the region.
Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO of Fintech Wales, is “absolutely thrilled” by the market success and industry recognition achieved by Sina and the team at Yoello.
“To have been at the heart of hospitality transformation and win the top UK fintech award, all within a year of start-up, is absolutely astonishing”, says Sarah. “When people ask me what’s possible across in fintech here in Wales, I nod in the direction of Yoello and some of our other thriving start-ups and say ‘that’s what possible’. Now let’s redouble our efforts to create more Yoello’s and more best-of-breed fintechs across the region.”