Founder Spotlight: Aaron D’Cruz, Maynuu, and How to Truly Validate an Idea

It’s been a while, but we’re back with the fourth installment in the MR4S Founder Spotlight series!

Today I (Nick) interview Aaron D’Cruz. Aaron spent 15 years running a restaurant before pivoting to B2B SaaS. He’s a true bootstrapper!

Read more to learn about Aaron, what he’s accomplished so far, and what he thinks other founders can learn from his journey.

Aaron! Let’s start with a bit about you. What are you about? What’s your background? Why did you launch Maynuu?

I’m an ex-restaurateur of 15 years turned self-taught web developer.

I’ve always been interested in computer programming, but never had the resources to dive into it properly. After I sold my businesses in 2019, I grabbed the opportunity to become a student again and put together my own curriculum to learn how to code.

I launched my startup because I was pissed off with how the big food delivery platforms are gouging small restaurants with exorbitant fees. It was born out of frustration and personal experience. To this day, I still get fired up every time I talk about it.

Maynuu is the tool I wish I had as a restaurateur all those years ago. My viral Twitter thread says it all.

Great! So what exactly does Maynuu do? Who did you build it for? Why should anyone use it?

Maynuu helps small restaurant owners make more money online.

Food shops can use our system to digitalise their menu, and streamline their entire online ordering process. This includes everything from delivery and takeaway orders, to reservations, as well as QR code ordering for in-house customers.

I built this to help my restaurateur friends who were struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic lockdowns, your friendly neighbourhood diner, and the mom & pops shops of the world. People who are what I used to be.

Three main reasons why everyone should it:

Make More Money. We don’t charge the restaurants any fees; you get to keep 100% of your hard-earned sales revenue. Also, when you no longer have to mark up your prices just to cover crazy commissions – your customers save, too! Absolute win-win situation.

Save More Time. If you were previously taking orders by phone, DMs or Google Forms – we’ve automated all of that for you. We reduce your cumbersome 12-step process to just 2 clicks. You can focus on work that matters more.

Take Full Control. No more ‘FOMO Promos‘. You decide when to create your own discount coupons, at the rate you can afford. You get your own branded website that automates your sales, reservations, and payment processing for you. Also customise your shop, manage menu items, review orders, and analyse sales data all in one simple and heckuva good-looking interface.

Did you do market research before launching Maynuu? If so, what kind? And what did you learn about your market?

I’d like to say I was all the market research I needed!

Jokes aside, I built this for myself and people like me. Nothing fancy. We talked to restaurant owners that we knew to see if it was a viable solution.

We also did cold outreach. I learned that not everyone will see eye-to-eye with you.

Some will try and put you down or take advantage of you despite your best intentions. Others are willing to pay the big platforms’ high fees because they provide the ‘reach’. Fair enough! Maynuu is not for everyone – and we prefer to keep it that way.

Beyond customer feedback, what kind of market research are you doing these days?

We are doing more competitor research these days, to see how we can differentiate ourselves and provide the most personable and satisfying user experience possible.

What are you proudest of so far? What milestones have you hit?

The fact that people trust Maynuu enough to sign up and manage their entire online business with us. I’m happy that we are helping over 1800 small restaurants retain their rightful earnings.

I’m also very proud that people abroad have heard about us (shoutout to building in public on Twitter!) and want to distribute our system in other countries to help their favourite food shops thrive.

Milestones: operating in two countries (Malaysia and Singapore), and recently signing up our first franchise!

Great stuff here! To close, what’s the first thing you’d tell a first-time founder trying to launch their first product?

Validate, validate, validate!

Don’t even build an MVP. Build a ‘clickable prototype’ and get at least 3 paying customers.

Take the money first. If things don’t work out, you can always refund them later.

Thanks! Last question: Imagine you’re required to take a month-long vacation. All-expenses paid. Where do you go? What do you do?

Anywhere isolated. Like a log cabin on a farm or a mountain cave. Preferably somewhere cold because I love cold weather! So… Iceland? Canada? New Zealand?

I’d love to be able to get away from it all and just hide and do nothing.

To learn more from Aaron, you can follow him on Twitter. Learn more about Maynuu here.

Inspired by Aaron’s story? Launch your own market research survey today. Every successful venture begins with feedback from real consumers. Let’s get building!