A global pandemic, the leaving of the single market and a cost-of-living crisis has left the UK’s hospitality industry in a tricky situation. Records show that even before Covid-19 vacancies in the industry were already at unprecedently high levels. Some in the sector cite the culture, pay and zero-hours contracts as exacerbating the situation.
Gaurav Kathuria took an MBA and launched his hospitality solutions business during his time of study. Here, he explains how his newly found expertise led to the launch of an exciting and relevant venture…
“In a post-pandemic world, businesses are all about efficiency. In hospitality in particular, people can’t find the staff, so the key is to find solutions that are automated in lots of key areas,” explains Gaurav.
Gaurav grew up in India watching his father work tirelessly on his own business, with little time for respite. From his father, he inherited an entrepreneurial spirit but also a drive to create something to improve a work life balance for all.
“I moved to Shropshire from India at age 17 and then to Kent 12 years ago. My dad has a manufacturing and supply chain business and has always worked hard. I knew how valuable it can be to have something to call your own, but also what a hard slog it can be. My aim in life was to build a business that fits around life outside of work.”
It was while working at another university in IT solutions that his employer paid for him to undertake an MBA at Kent in 2020.
“The MBA was transformational for me. We were forced to think innovatively as a rule of thumb, but even more so during the pandemic,” says Gaurav. “We did our MBA during Covid, and we had to think on our feet and adapt to change. It wasn’t perfect but that’s what happens in business, and you have to make it work. Problem-solving is what business is all about.”
It was during his favourite modules – Delivering Innovation and Entrepreneurship that Gaurav started to develop his latest business model, with the help of MBA Entrepreneurship in Residence, John.
“The ideas came through the project I did in a former job, we ended up making job functions redundant in their hospitality sector, as there were so many things that they were doing manually that could’ve been easily automated,” remarks Gaurav. “I saw a gap, a problem that needed solving particularly in the post-Covid and Brexit climate.”
He developed a model that resells high-quality EPOS systems with full-scale solutions such as training and implementation, to make the process as easy as possible.
“By the second module, it was becoming a full business solution,” he explains. “We developed automatic deduction from stock, a function which isn’t used by many small businesses and a system that can integrate point of sale, stock control and finance solutions and create a business’ own ordering site with Just Eat and Deliveroo that can be rigged into the EPOS.”
While Gaurav knew staff shortages were the biggest problem the industry faced, he knew that for years hospitality had struggled with a lack of digital skills.
He says: “There was little innovation in small business hospitality until Covid forced them to innovate. Who expected to go to a restaurant and order by QR code a few years ago? A lot of SMEs lack training packages to actually get to grips with using new technology, I wanted to help.”
Having built his solutions in a way that is affordable, he hopes to offer businesses a ‘one-stop shop’ down the line, integrating stock control, training, HR, licensing, staffing and ordering into one offering that small enterprises can afford.
Gaurav concludes: “I have a front-of-house expert, chef and licensing expert who are working with me so that when I introduce the systems to new businesses, we can work directly with the relevant teams to train them in a way they understand and need. The dream is to scale up the systems used by small businesses to rival those that the big chains use, to protect and save these important independent businesses.”
AMBA-accredited, Kent Business School’s MBA is underpinned by our high-quality research and informed by the global outlook of our international community. It builds on your current experience to transform you into a responsible business leader.