Online entrepreneurs: Stevan Premutico, Founder and MD – Dimmi

An astute hospitality marketer with experience across the United States, the UK and Australia, Dimmi Founder, Stevan Premutico has built a successful business borne out of his own first hand frustrations at the inefficiencies of restaurant reservation systems. Since establishing Dimmi in 2009, Stevan has built the business into Australia’s leading real-time restaurant reservation and review website.

NC : A few words about Dimmi. Key features, service, number of restaurants, etc.

We are Australia’s leading real-time restaurant reservation and review website, partnering with more than 2,000 restaurants nationwide and the country’s leading online restaurant guide to make recommendations and reservations a no-stress affair.  Founded in 2009, it has grown to become a free, one-stop website and iPhone app that takes the guesswork out of finding and booking a great restaurant anywhere in Australia. Since its establishment, Dimmi (Italian for “tell me”) has seated more than 2 million Australian diners at restaurants ranging from hatted fine-dining establishments to more casual suburban eateries.

NC : What motivated you to open your business?

I couldn’t handle the corporate nonsense any more. I saw opportunity and innovation all around me but it would take years to make anything happen. The Titanic was turning much too slowly for me; so I jumped…

NC : Do you put in more or fewer hours than you had anticipated?

mmm…more, much more!

NC : How do you think your business will change in 10 years?

Interesting. Bricks ‘n’ mortar restaurants will always be a part of our lives and, whilst the industry will evolve, food is food and restaurants will always be at the core our social experiences and communities. There is little risk that restaurants will become the next Blockbuster or Dymocks! What I think will become increasingly interesting with time is how customers will search, discover and find new restaurants. At the core of this complex decision matrix will be digital technologies, social media and location-based technologies…and Dimmi hopefully at the core of all of this.

NC : What advice would you give another person who wanted to start an online business?

Just do it. Jump in, strap in and hold on…it will be one crazy roller coaster ride.

NC : Tell me how you first got involved in the digital space.

At the time I was marketing Hilton Hotels inLondonand was seeing industries all around me being “digitized.” There was this massive emergence of the old and the new and I wanted to play in that playground. It was just on the eve of the GFC but I made the big call, quit, spent a year conceptualising Dimmi in an attic in Maida Vale and got Dimmi off the ground.

NC : What do you find most challenging about this industry?

Trying to get a traditionally old-school industry (restaurant operators) to embrace new technologies and move with the times.

NC : What’s the best/worst thing to happen since you started working in the online space?

Best – online continues to become an increasingly core part of everyone’s life.

Worst – I was forced to throw away my HB pencil and replace it with the notes that I now take on my iPhone.

NC : Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work in this space?

My brother. Leo heads up a creative agency called Johannes Leonardo inNew York. His mantra is on how great brands can be inspired simply through great products, great experiences and by building communities of brand advocates.

NC: What sorts of trends do you see in the digital space? And what do you think the next big thing will be?

For us in our industry it’s social and it’s location. If I am a restaurant owner and I have 50% of my tables empty for lunch why can’t I communication with the 5,000 people at my doorstep who are all thinking about food right here, right now?

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