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The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and SkiftX present The Freedom to be Extraordinary content series, which explores how breaking free from convention can lead to extraordinary success. These conversations will reveal how leading innovators and entrepreneurs approach creativity and how they’re embracing the freedom to be extraordinary.
Krystle Mobayeni, CEO and Co-Founder of BentoBox, has had some of the best experiences of her life in restaurants. These experiences have served as inspiration to the work she does everyday. “Being able to give back to the chefs and owners who have provided me with those experiences through BentoBox has definitely been my biggest accomplishment,” she says.
BentoBox is a platform that helps restaurants build and maintain beautiful, user-friendly websites through a connected suite of tools. It powers over 1,500 restaurants around the world, from The Spotted Pig in New York, to Two Guns Espresso, a New Zealand coffee shop with three locations in Los Angeles, to Fish School, a seafood-centric restaurant in Hong Kong.
Mobayeni identified a space in the restaurant market for better online user experiences while working with a handful of small, but well-known restaurants when she was running her own boutique design agency. She realized the restaurants she was working with didn’t have the tools to translate their services to our increasingly digital world and couldn’t maintain control over their brand experiences. After learning about these pain points, building a platform that could address all of their needs and connect restaurants to their customers online was a no-brainer.
BentoBox aims to be a true partner to the restaurants they work with and strives to treat them the same way the restaurant would treat one of their guests. “We try to embody the idea of hospitality at every step of the journey and really anticipate their needs,” Mobayeni says. “But it’s really a team effort. The success of BentoBox depends on every single person at the company.
Mobayeni got her start in digital and design early on. Her father was a computer science major in the 1980s, and she grew up around surrounded by technology and computers, learning how to code at a young age. While she originally wanted to study fashion in college, her family encouraged her to take a more practical path. She ended up studying digital design, a burgeoning field at the time, and was able to quickly build a solid career and go on to work for herself.
“I’ve always been an overachiever, so it’s really important for me to master anything I’m doing. Being a CEO means you have to do a lot of things that might scare you at first,” Mobayeni says.
As a female CEO in the tech space, Mobayeni has faced her share of challenges. “I grew up with the idea that if I worked hard enough, I could be whoever I wanted to be. While working in tech, and especially going through the fundraising experience, I started bumping up into the fact that I had to work a lot harder than my male counterparts to see the same results.” She’s thankful we’re finally starting to have a larger conversation about the role of female leadership in tech and beyond, but hopes to see real, actionable change in the industry. “We need more examples of leadership that go beyond the traditional male cookie-cutter mold.”
The theme of freedom and breaking away has been a constant theme throughout Mobayeni’s life. Her family immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in the late 1970s seeking freedom and opportunity for themselves and their family. As Mobayeni explains, “It’s really important for me to take advantage and make the most of the opportunity my parents gave me. Because of that, I’m focused on doing everything I want to do and building the best and most successful company I can.”
As for those looking to break free from convention and lead their own initiatives, Mobayeni advises, “The most important thing is to make sure you’re really doing it for yourself, and not for money or other superficial reasons. Once that’s in place, then it becomes about having the will to stay focused, create goals and move toward those goals.”
Read more articles from the The Unbound Collection by Hyatt interview series below.