Dining out and scaling up: The story of DYNE
UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce student Arnav Mishra has not let the pandemic slow down his entrepreneurial dreams. He’s the brainchild behind DYNE, a technology platform that helps friends connect at local restaurants. In just five clicks, his app enables foodies to schedule meet-ups at any one of the 400 restaurants in its database. Shortly after he first launched his app, public health restrictions placed limits on dining out with friends, but that didn’t stop Mishra from believing in the potential of DYNE. Instead, thanks to his ingenuity and perseverance, he was able to pivot his platform and rebuild from the ground up. The pandemic isn’t over yet, but DYNE is now well on its way to massive uptake and has seed funding in place to nourish his vision.
How did Mishra reach the point of scaling up? With focused research, tenacity and great mentorship along the way.
“When restrictions were put in place and dining out with friends was no longer feasible, my team and I took the opportunity to learn as much as we could about the food industry,” says Mishra, now in his fourth year at UBC Sauder. “Through the market research we conducted between July and October with a sample of 300 North American restaurants, we discovered that during the lockdowns, restaurants only earned an average of $200 each day.”
This revelation gave Mishra a renewed purpose to partner with restaurants to help them generate more income and improve student engagement through social connections.
“Working with my new team has been a whirlwind,” says Mishra. “Over the past few months, we have reached incredible milestones, including beta testing the application, launching our initial prototype, and our most anticipated one, hosting a series of social events at restaurants in accordance with the province’s COVID-19 guidelines.”
DYNE now has more than 4,000 users on the platform. These diners have saved a collective $50,000 in overall food costs in a month with DYNE’s coupons and deals. The app formed partnerships with 30 local restaurants to facilitate the meet-ups, and these businesses have reported a total of $300,000 in revenue growth, across all restaurants.
The next phase
“The courses at UBC Sauder have equipped me with the practical skills to not only set up DYNE but also to be resilient and able to thrive in the everchanging, competitive start-up environment,” says Mishra. “COMM 388: Design Methods for Business Innovation with Professor Dharini Thiruchittampalam and COMM 489 Applied Methods in Technology Start-ups at Creative Destruction Lab with Professor Darrell Kopke, particularly, have been the highlights of my degree and have taught me how to be a team-player, understand clients, and most importantly, how to use DYNE’s ‘why’ to solve business problems.”
With continued research and guidance from entreprenurship@UBC, UBC’s start-up incubator that provides resources, mentorship, and funding to promising UBC start-ups, DYNE became ready for its next phase as part of the HATCH accelerator program. The team set their sights on expanding to the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan (UBCO) campus.
“Being a student entrepreneur at this university comes with a vast and supportive network,” says Mishra. “The Faculty of Management and the business incubator at UBCO have partnered with us to make it easier to replicate DYNE’s model there. We are thrilled that the student community in Kelowna will be able to find exciting deals starting in February 2022.”
Standing out in Vancouver’s start-up ecosystem
As a top 5 venture in the UBC start-up network as determined by a survey from the Innovative Projects Fund, Mishra was eager to take DYNE to Vancouver’s entrepreneurial community and see how his idea would be received in a larger ecosystem.
Mishra and his trusted core team worked hard towards a four-week investment program hosted by Valhalla Angels, one of Canada’s leading angel investment groups. During this program, the team received training on how to improve their pitches for a chance to receive seed funding and gained invaluable access to a network of peers and investors. This training, combined with Mishra’s experience as an Entrepreneurship Coordinator at AMS eHub, where he mentors 52 other student start-ups, helped them perfect their pitch.
The hard work paid off and the DYNE team won the final pitch event of the investment program. DYNE was officially recognized as the number one emerging start-up in British Columbia at the Valhalla Investment Summit BC and was awarded the seed funding.
The win is an encouraging sign of what lies ahead for DYNE, after nearly two years of ups and downs. DYNE is now a 40-person strong team, made up of students from across faculties. There are 20 additional features for the web application currently in beta testing, with a gamified map feature that allows users to find friends and restaurant deals leading the way.
While optimistic about the future, Mishra and his team are prepared to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the restaurant industry, with the comfort of knowing that few things in life are more natural together than food and friendship.
“With the challenges that the pandemic has posed, my philosophy has remained the same: I seize every moment to the fullest. This has allowed me to be the resilient leader I need to be when faced with uncertainty and has truly prompted DYNE’s success.”
For more on Arnav Mishra and DYNE, read An app for food and friendship.