Life

Going All-In Again. – Brandon Barton – Medium

How and why I joined the Bite team.

You only bet on one company at a time as an employee.

I really didn’t plan to jump back in full time for at least a year. Consulting was great! There are plenty of hospitality tech startups who need help with sales and operations, and I had a full book of business. One company had 3 consecutive months of record sales while I was engaged with them — they just needed a little guidance and shift of focus. Another had an amazing freemium product but trouble converting. After a few months and some minor tweaks, premium growth is picking up and their automated content marketing is almost fired up. Big win for the team.

So I kept having more conversations, sharing my expertise and experience wherever it could help. Until this one conversation: “Hi, I’m Brandon. Great to meet. Tell me about what you’re up to…”

“…”

“Oh that’s very cool, certainly the right timing for that. Tell me about the tech.”

“…”

“Wait, you do what?!? Is it fully integrated.”

“Yes.”

“That’s genius. Who’s running your sales and operation efforts.”

“…”

😲😳🤔😀🤩🤩🤩

All of a sudden I wasn’t consulting anymore. I wanted to be all-in. Back to being the first employee on the business side. Back to building. Back to the hustle, the struggle, the hard problems and the huge wins. Bite is where I wanted to spend all my time and energy.

Why this one? I’ll go into a deep dive in my next post, but here’s the short version:

  1. The Tech is First Class — Stas and Steve are brilliant. Ex-Hulu and ex-Google, respectively. They build passive facial recognition (opt in, of course) into self service kiosks. The kiosks fully integrate to the existing POS system and credit card processing. The experience for a guest is seamless and really enhances the hospitality at your typical QSR or Fast Casual restaurant.
  2. The Timing is Impeccable — if it’s “location, location, location” for a brick and mortar business, it’s “product-market fit, product-market fit, product-market fit” for startups. Here’s why we have that fit with Bite. Labor cost are increasing dramatically and operators are finding ways to automate parts of the guest experience that don’t offer value or hospitality. Kiosks can assist with the transactional parts — order and payment — with a 5–10x ROI. Consumers are incredibly familiar with ordering from a phone or tablet (thanks Grubhub/Caviar/Starbucks) so there is almost no consumer adoption curve. And finally, when the best hospitality brand in your market (Shake Shack) and the best value brand in your market (McDonald’s) are both adopting the tech, you can be sure the product market fit is strong!
  3. The Team is Stacked — Jeff, Bite’s CEO, has put together an amazing team. At its core are three friends who have known each-other for a combined 30 years. They’re smart, cautious, confident, ambitious, hard working and believe in diversity, balance, candor, trust, and a straight “No Asshole” policy. I’ve learned that your culture is your company and when you let that last one slip, and you have assholes early in leadership roles, it’s devastating to the potential success of the company.
  4. The Sell Scales — I always want to be responsible for revenue. I’m a “VC” with one portfolio company and I will bet on me every time (I promise I’m humble 🤗). That forces me to take a hard look at the revenue potential, bounce it off some friends, and know, with a high level of certainty, if something can reach the goals necessary. Bite is selling to the worlds biggest QSR and Fast Casual brands. There are about 300 of them. To oversimplify, that’s 300 deals. It’s pure Enterprise Sales. Intimately understanding a companies problem and solving for it at their pace, all the while truly impacting their bottom line. Buyers represent 200–500 restaurants at a time — this is not an slow SMB play. It’s big and fast.

I’m now 6 week’s into my role as COO of Bite. And I couldn’t be happier. After a 3 month, two-sided vetting, Jeff, Bite’s CEO and I agreed it was the right fit. And we got to work immediately in late May:

  • 8,000 restaurants represented by the people who took a demo in week 1
  • 20,000 restaurants represented by the companies currently in pilot
  • 100,000 restaurants represented by the partner companies we’re integrating with (several we’re either first or exclusive)

You could say things are off to a good start. 😁

We’re now raising money and growing the team. If you want to get involved or learn more about any of this, email me at brandon@bitekiosk.com or my permanent email brandon.c.barton@gmail.com. Would love to hear from you!


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