The unprecedented of a global pandemic has left people scared. It seems like the whole world has been brought to its knees, from the rapid and destructive spread of the COVID-19 to the recent protests in response to the murders of George Floyd. The food industry isn’t exempt. So as things develop, we’ve asked service providers in the food industry, to share how they’ve been affected, and how they’re responding.
LA Startups connected with Alex Canter, CEO at OrderMark to get the lowdown on how they’re doing with their online food ordering management system as restaurants face closures.
LA Startups (LAS): What is Ordermark, and how did you come up with the idea?
Alex Canter (AC): Ordermark is an online ordering management system, allowing restaurants to plug into all the online ordering companies that are available in their zip code through a single device in their kitchen. In my family’s restaurant business, Canter’s Deli, we had 14 different online ordering platforms running. Each system brought incremental revenue, and delivery on third-party apps became 30% of our restaurants’ revenue, which was incredible. However, we had 9 tablets, 2 laptops, and a fax machine to manage all the incoming orders. In 2017, my founding team and I wanted to take a step back, and re-imagine the entire online ordering experience in a restaurant from scratch, making it simple for a restaurant to plug into all these amazing revenue streams through a single system.
LAS: What is Ordermark providing that is unique to the market and to new businesses?
AC: Ordermark enables restaurants of any shape or size to have an omnichannel delivery program that maximizes revenue. There are 800,000 brick and mortar restaurant businesses that are now forced to become a digital business as delivery continues to become a growing percentage of total order volume. There are not a lot of products and services to help restaurants with this shift, especially when it comes to mom & pop restaurants. We are not an online ordering platform ourselves, but rather helping restaurants navigate and implement a successful and profitable delivery system.
LAS: Given the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry, what has been your strategy for how to get through this?
AC: Our hearts are with restaurants right now. As dining rooms were shut down, delivery and take-out became the only revenue stream. We’ve definitely caught some tailwinds over the last few months. Prior to March, we were adding 300+ new restaurants each month. In March we added over 1000+ new locations. As a company, our mission has never been more relevant:
Our mission is to become a trusted partner to restaurants everywhere – offering products and services that help restaurants adapt to changing consumer trends and technology.
LAS: Tell us why you are so passionate about providing this service to restaurants.
AC: Growing up in an old-school family business, I felt proud to be the young generation coming in to implement new technology. My role was to adapt the family business for the next generation, just like my father, and grandfather did before me. I am passionate about helping other restaurants do the same, especially knowing that is keeping their doors open during this time.
LAS: What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
AC: We recently rolled out a new menu management technology called Sync. Sync allows restaurants to manage their online ordering menu in one place, and it will push out all changes and updates back to the online ordering companies. This allows restaurants to have a flexible menu and is an important infrastructure piece to a successful online ordering business.
LAS: Tell us a good story about how you personally started – maybe one of your early struggles and how you overcame that challenge? A ‘From the Trenches’ type of story that you may not have thought you would survive.
AC: When we started Ordermark, we knew we would have to work with all of the major online-ordering companies to build integrations, but we didn’t have all the relationships at first. We were told by big companies like Amazon and Uber that they don’t want to work with us because we are a startup, which made it incredibly difficult to get off the ground. We had to solve the chicken and egg problem by getting restaurants to make demands to these platforms and eventually got over 50+ online ordering services to work with us.
LAS: Tell us about a tough day you had at work and how you pushed through?
AC: Every single day has its ups and downs. The startup rollercoaster is not for everyone, but you learn how to deal with the highs and lows, and each time it gets easier and easier. We’ve had to deal with tough personnel changes, term sheets getting pulled, legal battles, and important customers going out of business. These make the wins feel even greater though.
LAS: Tell us about a book or something else you’ve found inspiration in business?
AC: My biggest inspiration is my exec team, investors, and advisors that I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with. I co-founded this company when I was 24 years old, and I am incredibly grateful to be working with so many brilliant and experienced hard-working people. I’ve been very fortunate to come across so many incredible people along this journey.
LAS: What Big Piece of Advice would you give to new entrepreneurs who are looking to start a startup?
AC: You must be incredibly passionate about the problem you are solving. There are plenty of great business ideas, but if you are not obsessed with what you are achieving, you will 100% get burnt out. I tried to start several businesses prior to Ordermark, but inevitably hit roadblocks that discouraged me from continuing on. With Ordermark, nothing will stop me from moving forward.
LAS: Any last words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
AC: Prove everyone wrong and fail fast!