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5 things I wish i'd known before developing an app!

Sarah Dupuy COO of YouCater

Sarah Dupuy, a former financial trader, co-founded YouCater, a new online marketplace with her husband Philippe, with the aim of making finding the right caterer for your event much easier. Currently serving as COO, Sarah has learnt plenty the hard way, as is the case for most of us on our entrepreneurial journey.

We learn more about her journey today, including the things she wished she knew before building an app.

Tell us about the YouCater app – what is it used for, and by who? What need is it solving?

The catering market in the GCC lacks digital solutions, a gap YouCater fills with its innovative platform. We curate a diverse selection of exceptional catering providers, ranging from Michelin-starred chefs to championing homegrown concepts such as 21 Grams, Wise Guys, Reif Kushiyaki, Rascals and Maiz Tacos. Our platform simplifies the entire catering process, enabling users to effortlessly discover, book, and experience top-notch culinary services for any event, whether it's a corporate luncheon, wedding reception, or intimate gathering. We match users with providers who align with their preferences, ensuring a tailored and memorable catering experience.


Why did you choose to build an app and not just a website?

We initially launched a mobile-friendly web portal, which remains the primary tool for all incoming B2B inquiries. However, given the fast-paced nature of business, the convenience culture of instant access, and the high service standards expected in the UAE, introducing an app became essential for handling B2C inquiries. Our platform features a built-in communication channel enabling direct engagement between customers and providers. The app's push notification functionality addresses the demand for instant information exchange, supporting various formats such as voice notes, text, images, videos, and virtual phone numbers.


How do you select an app building developer?

We carefully weighed the options of developing tech in-house or outsourcing to an agency, considering the commercial benefits and associated risks. Identifying an agency with a successful track record, whose founders were part of our close network, instilled trust from the outset. Despite this, we took our time to explore other options to ensure we partnered with the most suitable agency, prioritizing suitability over familiarity. From a commercial perspective, opting for an agency made perfect sense as we were self-funding the entire operation. Establishing an in-house tech team would have necessitated seeking external funding, potentially leading to early equity dilution in our journey. As founders, we've sat on the investor side of the table and possess a keen understanding of the optimal timing for a startup to seek funding.


What were the biggest challenges?

While challenges are an inevitable part of any venture, we perceive them as opportunities for growth. As start-up founders, our days are spent problem-solving and confronting daily challenges. It's all about prioritizing which needs to address first. We've managed to execute everything thus far on a shoestring budget, and it's fascinating to witness the resourcefulness that emerges when operating within financial constraints. Drawing from backgrounds in finance, F&B, and tech, we've built an extensive network, which is reflected in our board of advisors, where three out of four members are female powerhouses. We don’t hold back asking everyone to bring in their expertise.


And biggest wins?

Our lean MVP has proven to be a success thus far, representing our initial foray into the market with a minimalistic product. Launching such a simplified version of what we envision as our eventual product can be frustrating for founders. However, we firmly believe that achieving product-market fit is best accomplished by prioritizing the most relevant features based on user feedback, whether from our customers or providers.


Maintaining a small, agile team internally has enabled us to swiftly move into production and execute enhancements to the app with ease. We remain attentive and receptive, continuously monitoring similar business models worldwide and gathering feedback from our customers. Our goal is to promptly integrate this feedback into our product, ensuring that we close the loop efficiently from receiving input to implementing it.


Four pieces of advice you would give to anyone thinking of building their app?

  • Don’t over-engineer, build as you grow instead!

  • Work with people that bring different elements of expertise to the table.

  • Enjoy the ride, it will be bumpy but if you are an entrepreneur at heart, the time you pour into your venture won’t feel as work!

  • Trust your gut and don’t lose focus.


For more information visit and give it a try for yourself by downloading the app today on your usual platforms.


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