Chile Today’s Women To Watch series highlights female leaders and entrepreneurs. Take an inside look at their careers and the inspiration behind the innovative companies and organizations they’ve built. From tech companies to non-profits, you’ll learn from some of Chile’s most influential thought leaders.
Andrea Liao is the CEO and Founder of Mesa, the Top 10 App in Food & Drink in Chile, and she is introducing the concept of Yield Management to the restaurant industry in the Americas. Liao has 10 years of experience in Product and Business Development across a wide range of industries such as Consumer Electronics, Gaming, Real Estate, and Finance.
She is a Start-Up Chile Alumni, Mentor, and Judge; Seedstars Chile and LATAM Summit Winner and Global Mentor and MassChallenge Mexico Winner and Judge. Liao is Chilean-Taiwanese and is fluent in Spanish, English, and Mandarin, having lived in Chile, Peru, Brazil, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan.
What was your inspiration for starting Mesa?
Restaurants operate at only 30 percent capacity without an optimum pricing strategy, and it has become a vastly underserved market. Airlines and hotels on the other hand, operate at an 80 percent capacity by applying Yield Management strategy.
This reality inspired me to create Mesa and launch the first Yield Management platform for restaurant bookings with demand-based pricing in the Americas.
What does the process of building a start-up look like for you?
As an entrepreneur, multitasking is a hugely important skill to possess, as you’re the sales manager, marketing chief, finance head, admin, tech lead, product owner, coffee cunner – you name it.
I always advise you to create something you are passionate about, a cause you believe in, or an idea that could change people’s lives – a lot of people’s lives.
There has to be a big enough problem that you can convince people to use and pay for your service or product.
Find your dream team, create a business plan, revenue model, and launch a minimum viable product (MVP). It doesn’t have to be perfect; you just have to get it out in the market.
Once you have your customers’ feedback, start filtering the good and bad feedback and improve your service or product accordingly. With this said, ensure you’ve validated your product in the market.
In parallel, you could be raising a round of investment and starting a family all at the same time. It’s a rollercoaster ride.
What are Mesa’s mission and impact?
Our mission is to become an essential tool in the restaurant industry and the go-to app for eating out in major cities across the Americas: “Whenever you’re hungry, you think of Mesa.”
How would you like to grow Mesa in the next five years?
We are planning on expanding Mesa to our first international market – Mexico. Our third market will likely be Peru, followed by other large cities in LATAM, such as Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro.
As your company grows, what have been the primary challenges? Hiring? Tech development? Raising capital?
The primary challenge we and many others have had to face has been the pandemic. We’re riding our second COVID wave, and the government has just announced a full city lockdown once more. We’re positive as we believe that the world isn’t ending and that people are inherently social creatures.
We reached break-even in our first market during the socio-political unrest in Chile; we’ve proven what we can do with limited resources, and we will also overcome this.
How do you learn about and build your leadership qualities?
You learn as you go. I believe communication is key to all relationships, and I try to be as transparent and authentic as possible to all my peers. I approach matters with a positive and motivating attitude and I trust my team to deliver. I delegate enough to push them to make them better.
What advice would you give to young women trying to follow in your footsteps?
Partner up with a responsible co-founder. This is the person you’re going to be breaking bread with every day, someone you’ll see more than your friends, spouse, or children.
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely path, and this person will understand you more than anybody, collaborate every day with you, and will be with you for the ups and downs to reach your mutual goals.