Meet our startup: Jono: the app bringing diners and restaurants together

People who want to eat out often cannot find a table. Yet restaurants typically have seats due to last-minute no shows. Jono is stepping into the gap to connect the two.

Have you been in the situation of eating out without reservations but found all tables were booked? Jono is here to help!

Tom Strandberg, Jono
Tom Strandberg, Jono

Anyone who has tried to get a last-minute reservation at a quality restaurant knows how difficult it can be. It’s even tougher on a weekend, or if your group is large. But sometimes plans come together late, and the number of people may be in flux, so last-minute reservation requests are here to stay.

At the same time, restaurants often face no shows: a reservation has been made, but the group never arrives. The revenue loss can be significant, so the restaurant would love to fill the seats. But by that time – often late in the evening – online reservation systems are closed, and the restaurant needs to hope a customer calls or walks in by chance. 

Hospitality-industry veteran Tom Strandberg spotted an opportunity in these common scenarios. So he joined forces with tech-guru Kasper Ilmolahti and the pair developed Jono: a match-making app that connects diners looking for a table with restaurants that have one. 

“Before Jono, there was no universal platform for quickly showing diners if there are vacancies at different restaurants,” says Strandberg. “Due to no shows and variable group sizes, there is typically 15 to 30 percent availability. We’re helping both diners and restaurant owners to fill this space.”

Jono has been available to users in Helsinki through an open pilot project since early September 2021, with a proper launch planned before the end of the year. Some big-name Finnish restaurants are already on board, including Farang, Gaijin, Bronda, Olo, and Michelin-star winner Finnjävel. The app will soon be available in the city of Tampere too.

While Jono is free to use for both restaurants and customers alike, the company takes a EUR 2 fee per person from any restaurant where a booking is made. 

“We’re also building a marketing-tool into the app, so that restaurants can send out offers whenever they get a late cancellation or a no show. Customers will be able to create requests too, indicating the size of their group and what they want to eat,” says Ilmolahti.

“Ultimately, we’re going to use the data we gather to build heat maps about what kind of restaurants people are looking for. This will help the industry to understand any restaurant experiences that are missing in a given part of a city,” he says.

Jono joined the Aalto Startup Center earlier this year to connect with advisors and investors. The company has also received funding from Business Finland to investigate potential in Germany and other international markets. 

“As we see it, Jono is the only restaurant reservation app that actually sells tables,” says Strandberg. “We’re projected to have almost 10,000 restaurant customers by 2024. Jono is going to be the biggest in the world doing this.”


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