The Guest Table’s Founder Shares Tips for Launching an Online Business

In this interview, The Guest Table’s Founder, Hilda Awad, shares the story behind the development of the online seating plan platform as well as tips for others looking to launch an online business.


Q) When did you have the idea for The Guest Table?


A) Approximately 5 years ago


Q) What made you decide to build The Guest Table?


A) The idea came to me after finding myself sitting very close to loudspeakers at a wedding reception.  I remembered thinking "if only I could have picked my own seat"  side note- I have a condition called Pulsatile Tinnitus which basically means I can always hear a whooshing sound in my ear.  Loud music makes the symptoms worse.   


Q) How long did it take from having the idea to actually deciding to do it?


A) About a year.


Q) What were you doing before you started The Guest Table?


A) I was and still am blessed to be a stay at home mom with 3 kids, I work part-time as a remote call center representative and a licensed manicurist (fun fact) I haven't worked in the beauty industry for over 20 years but still renew my license because I love the discount on nail products.


Q) Did you do any market research to determine the validity of the idea? 


A) Yes, I spent a lot of time on the web searching keywords and reading blogs. I reached out to brides, planners, and guests.  I found that the floor plan is one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning for everyone involved. The brides I spoke to loved the idea of setting up their floor plan via The Guest Table but most didn't want to allow their guests to pick their seats. With that valuable feedback, we were able to create a guest list form that the bride or planner can simply fill out to seat their guests.


Q) What was the hardest part? 


A) The hardest part was finding the right software company, I had no idea this software had to be built from the ground up. It was a rough start but once I found the right team it was smooth sailing.  I am blessed to have great people working with me on this project.


Q) What have you found to be the most surprising part of starting a business from the ground up?


A) The most surprising part is finding that my audience isn't what I thought it was. What I mean by that is because I had my experience at a wedding reception, I assumed my audience would be brides but in fact, weddings only make up 30 percent of our user base. The majority of our customers are hosting award ceremonies, fundraisers and corporate events. 


Q) Any advice for someone who wants to launch an online business? 


A) First of all, determine whether your online business could be created on a web building platform like WordPress or Wix, these platforms are easy and offer many plugins that are useful and fairly inexpensive for all they offer. Unfortunately, The Guest Table had to be built from the ground up. If this is the case for your service, my advice is to take your time, do your research, call software companies big and small and most importantly protect your idea! I don't recommend patenting your idea right away, I would file a PPA (provisional patent application) which protects you for one year, this gives you time to validate the idea before investing in in a full-blown patent.


Q) What are your future plans for The Guest Table?


A) Well, we are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. Our team is busy working on Version 2.0 which will offer larger floor plan options, a partner page for vendors to showcase their businesses and much more!


Author: The Guest Table