Dimple Lalwani is an entrepreneurial inspiration to all at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management having created a unique food app, Social Belly, which offers a new alternative to organizing gastronomic events for like-minded foodies in London.
The Spanish native, CEO and Founder of Social Belly, graduated from her BBA in Entrepreneurship in 2012 and now lives in England’s capital city. Dimple completed her internships whilst at Les Roches in F&B (Food & Beverage), Guest Relations and Sales before focusing on Revenue Management as a Revenue Manager and Senior Revenue Analysis Manager at Marriott International.
Her fresh business ideas and successes have not gone unnoticed. In a bid to motivate others, this is what she had this to say:
Tell me about your vision behind Social Belly
Social Belly is the easiest & fastest way and the best possible way to meet like-minded people over food. Our desire is to offer professionals who’ve just arrived to a new city a way to feel part of a community and a sense of belonging wherever they’ve moved from.
Our beta website has been live since March this year. At the beginning, it was all about gathering social data, user profiles. One of the things we realized is that, because our hosts were giving certain dates when they would organize a dinner party, they were often disappointed, because there was no guarantee anyone would be able to make it that specific day. Some days (weekends) would not be popular at all. We expected a lot of traffic that just wasn’t there.
We wanted to know more about our users, their consumer preferences, why they want to take part in Social Belly. We asked them what they want, and found out that it really was not primarily about food, but about wanting to meet new people, like-minded people with similar interests.
So, our vision has progressed. We focus messaging more on Social Belly being the easiest and fastest way to meet people around you, over food. Whether you are new in town, here for a job or on a graduate program, SB is your one-stop destination for meeting people.
We’ve decided to make midweek days our focus. People want something that gets them out of their house midweek, to use the midweek days to do something. This is our niche. Most people love food, you can’t target the entire city, you need to start niche.
How has your first year been? (Highlights and biggest challenges)
One of the highlights was winning the start-up competition. The prize was equity free, dedicated to resources in marketing, legal advice, web hosting, web development. It got us started in March. It’s been continuous achievements, ever since.
We’ve been pitching at a lot of events.
We’ve been accepted as one of the 15 startups at one of the Accelerator programs in Silicon Valley (out of +400 applications!).
Advice for current students at Les Roches who are thinking about starting their own business?
There are two things: before I went full time into entrepreneurship, I had already worked full time. If it hadn’t been for my full-time employment, this journey would have been a lot more difficult. One of the big challenges is that you need a lot of discipline – with all the organization that needs to be done. But it’s also the ability to listen to your customers and to be able to react on what they say.
Internships are important, but you need that discipline within you as you start employment. You have to be logical. There’s a balance between quitting your job and taking the leap. For example, it took me a year – I needed to prove the concept first, to see if there was a market for it… When there was validation and money in the bank, I quit my day job.
One of my biggest pieces of advice.
It takes time, you don’t have to launch straight away. Think about your personal development when you are in your internships. We only look at superficial stuff, like titles. We think housekeeper, receptionist, that doesn’t sound great, but you need to look at your personal development in those jobs and embrace the learning. For that, Marriott was good for me. They helped me a lot, they put me through much training, not only about Revenue Management but to improve my leadership skills too. When I said I wanted to quit my job, one of my bosses said ‘I didn’t expect anything less from you.’ They know me, and are extremely proud of what I do.
To learn more about the courses available at Les Roches, why not request a brochure? Also, make sure you check out the Accelerator programs and Social Belly to build on your own entrepreneurial ideas.