Tell us about yourself?
I live with my wife (an artist, and first entrepreneur in our household!) in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside Chicago. We have two kids (mostly grown), two cats, three dogs, and five chickens. I love heavy metal and pizza. I worked for other people for about 25 years before starting Science Retail, my first company with one of my present co-founders, Luisa. We operated as a boutique IT consultancy working with retailers & food businesses for about five years, and then joined our first accelerator program in the beginning of 2020 and became Science On Call, a subscription tech support platform for restaurants.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Many founders spend a lot of time iterating for years before they hit their stride. I had the advantage of about 20 years in IT before we launched. It’s not just “great young team has good idea, joins accelerator, and hits their Series A in 24 months.” I know lots and lots of founders who spend five or more years tweaking and iterating before they become the company that investors get behind.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Oddly enough, the only thing that comes to mind is that I wished I’d come up with some kind of structured approach to investing or building a nest egg early in life. But to be honest, it was my lack of building a savings and retirement that forced me into entrepreneurship. I woke up one day and realized “I better build something of value for myself and my family quickly.” I also realized it would need to revolve around my passion and competency to give myself the best chance for success.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Passion is the name of the game: everyone I meet says “wow, he’s REALLY into this.” I can make others believe what I believe once they meet me. I meet very few people who I don’t think are rooting for my company’s success.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Listening and empathy are HABITS to me. Also, waking up each day and checking my expectations: do I really think I’ve done enough to make the next project go well? I fight for it every day.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
All the founders love helping people and love restaurants. Our combined passions drive our approach: creating a platform that allows restaurants to solve their technology challenges quickly.
Where do you see your business in five years?
EXIT. We own our category, and any large organization (POS company, food distributor, IT companies) would be fortunate to call our solution part of their offerings, but frankly we all love doing what we do so I don’t know how we leave the business completely : )
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Our biggest challenge will be scaling our team and documenting all the thousands of resolutions we’ve mastered in order to feed chatbots and AI when they are ready (we don’t consider those technologies to be entirely mature yet.)
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Raising $1.6M as a tech-enabled services company. Not all VCs have the stomach for it, but we’ve been blessed to meet the right investors who see the big vision. We’ve recently launched pilots with very big customers that we believe will be key to growing our revenue and opening up new markets.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
We have recently spun up our outbound motion, which includes SDRs and a new AE. We believe we have a repeatable sales process. I still participate in the sales process, from demo to close, and I’m very good at it. When the right customer is on the demo, I have a very high success rate.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Take out the trash once in a while, or whatever else you consider to be an unpleasant part of the work that your team does every day. If they see you do it, they’ll do it, and having a good team in place who believes in what you’re doing is better than being the smartest person in the room.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I would like to start more companies! I love solving problems and creating opportunities for other team members. I can’t wait to see Science On Call be the standard bearer of tech support platforms for not only restaurants, but retailers, franchise businesses of all stripes, and more.