Boulder Colorado is just teeming with new digirati entrepenuers. Rob Taylor and Trish Groom are leading the way in Retail Mobility Solutions in the QSR (Quick Services Restaurant) and Fast Casual Dining markets.
After 20 yrs. as an investment advisor and manager with EF Hutton, Paine Webber and Smith Barney and serving on the BOD in numerous start-up Rob teamed up with Trish, who prior to joining Splick-it fulltime, managed the purchasing systems and financial processes for Sundop Fuels, Inc., a premier venture capital funded company.
Together they formed Splick-it.com which amounts to the interweb's, newest way to power restaurants with a branded mobile and online ordering platform. For guests, Splick-it enables grab and go convenience with order and payment handled directly on iPhone, Android, or Web. Restaurants also get access to an integrated suite of tools to connect directly with their guests in a timely and personal manner.
Too buzzwordy you say? How about Splick-it is the first of it's kind holistic handheld point of sale solution that extends the retail experience from in restaurant purchases to online social accomplishments sharing and viral branding!
But you want to know more, and so here's what they had to say when I caught up with them for a little candid Q&A:
Q: Can you describe what makes your company a leader of innovation in the world today?
As a “mobile first” company we are constantly exploring the opportunities presented by the explosion of mobility. We think a lot about how this new technology can be embraced to deliver a more convenient and valuable experience for everyone involved. We believe the restaurant industry is a tremendous opportunity for us to apply these principles and affect widespread change.
Q: What does it mean to be developing the first mobility solution that combines Social, Mobile and POS into one solution?
In our mind, there’s a very natural intersection between social, mobile, and ordering. Eating is a social activity that all of us take part in multiple times throughout the day. We believe that there are some big implications around that idea which we are really excited about.
Q: How did you get started with this innovation?
Our founders believed that waiting in line for coffee or lunch was a huge waste of time and that with the right technology they could make peoples lives easier.
Q: How are you funding this adventure?
During the early stages of development we were founder and friends/family funded. As we moved into expansion we received a funding round from large Angel investors well known to the founders. As we enter our growth stage we are considering VC backing at a much larger scale to satisfy the demands for our product.
Q: Are you profitable now? What's the financial forecast for your business?
We have not quite crossed over cash flow break-even but as we reach scale the EBITDA margins are quite compelling. As a SaaS company we enjoy many of the benefits of scale that other companies have done in their respective space ie: Salesforce.com. This venture becomes a very profitable business as we grow.
Q: Who would you like to partner with if you could have any partners you wanted?
We would love to have consumer driven strategic partnerships with the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn because they can drive more consumers to our brands. Currently, we use the existing API’s available to our developers from some of these companies, but we believe a bigger strategic partnership would be powerful in driving mobile adoption to our brands. As for our brand partners we are focused on some of the biggest and well-known names in QSR and Fast Casual like Boston Market, Wendy’s, Qdoba etc.
Q: How does mobility factor into recent privacy concerns throughout the Internet?
Clearly privacy is always a concern for any company in our space. Consumers feel much more comfortable with sharing directly with brands they know and trust as opposed to third party apps that provide mobile ordering under a different name and share consumer info across many brands. Because we represent the brands mobile connection to the consumer, we take privacy very seriously and only share consumer information with the brand.
Q: What's your take on digital wallet technology and is your work a precursor to an entry into that arena?
We are agnostic when it comes to who will win the consumer race for the digital wallet. That said, our industry has 100M consumer transactions every day and we believe in time mobility will become the dominant way to order into restaurants for take-out and delivery, so its important that we have payment options that consumers want to use. Our platform can become very strategic to the mobile wallet leaders like PayPal, Google and others as an early way to gain consumer adoption.
Q: Tell us a bit about your technology platform?
(The following response is from Dave Clements, Splick-it Co-CTO)
We believe in the right tool for the right job approach to technology choices.
Our backend, which has very specific scalability needs, is written entirely in PHP. The PHP community has been scaling web services for a very long time, and the problem and its solutions are well understood.
All our user facing web interfaces are built with Ruby on Rails. The rails platform has been primarily tuned for developer productivity. It allows us to do a great deal with a small team. And personally, I think Ruby in general is simply a joy to use.
For mobile we are committed to going native. In the last few years consumers have realized that the tools they use should not only perform the functions that they are intending to do but also the experience should be joyful. By staying with Cocoa-Touch on iOS and Android's version of Java on Android, we are able to provide what is considered to be the best consumer experience for any mobile ordering application.
Q: How much of your operation is in the cloud?
We are a 100% cloud-based solution.
Q: Does PCI compliance effect your growth planning? How?
No. PCI compliance is managed by our expert third-party partners who are tasked with keeping current with standards and security issues to meet our business needs.
Q: What would you recommend to any other smart entrepreneur in the digital space?
Hire the best developers you can find and challenge them to think about changing the world. Technology gives us Carte Blanche to create change for people.
Q: What have been your best lessons so far?
Personally, my greatest lesson has been in learning and understanding that competition is good in that it keeps us sharp. With any technology, speed is your greatest asset and your biggest liability. As the great John Wooden said, “…be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Q: Can you name two of your contemporary inspirations and how they helped you manifest this destiny?
I follow closely some great thought leaders like Reid Hoffman and Brad Feld. Although they are way out of my league in terms of business and academic IQ, it is an inspiration to watch them navigate the technology landscape.
Q: Can you name someone along the way you wish you could thank and haven't yet? What would you say to them?
I would love to be able to thank my departed Mother for instilling in me the belief that you can do anything you set out to do if you are willing to ask for help along the way. And also to thank her for making me listen to Earl Nightingale every morning at breakfast while I was in grade school. It seemed painful at the time, but I now know that it made a huge impact on how I think.
Q: What's the next big thing for the Digital Economy in 2012-2013?
I think the next big thing will be around connecting traditional media to mobile technology in a way that consumers can tolerate. Advertising as we have known it is changing so rapidly and mobile is leading that change. Connecting the old to the new is not only very interesting to brands in QSR and Fast Casual but across all industries.
Q: Is there an special link, offer, or engagement you'd like to share with anyone reading this article? What is it?
We would love for readers to experience Splick-it for themselves!