Innovator of the Week
Co-Founder & CEO of Orchard Systems
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
The future of food service is digital. Orchard deploys data automation software, via Point-of-Sale terminals, to increase restaurant profitability. The cost savings to restaurants are astounding. For example, we work with a chain of 42 locations that spends almost $1,000,000 a year on IT. Using Orchard, they will save 70% of that. Our solution offers all the technological benefits found in only the largest national chains, to restaurants of all sizes. We primarily work with multi unit operators seeking to streamline operations, establish brand continuity, and increase profitability.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
Dartmouth has been a wonderful environment to start our company in. We started by building a simple online ordering service, OrderOrchard.com, for the Hanover community. Students found the service so exciting that within months our software infrastructure could barely support our user base. The daily traffic forced us to completely rebuild the website, which is when Dartmouth really helped us. Dartmouth’s DALI Lab was instrumental in this software reconstruction. We’ve spent countless hours there building the software with student developers and receiving exceptional engineering advice from, Tim Tregubov, DALI’s technical
director. Dartmouth’s entrepreneurial network, DEN, also provided much needed grant funding to accelerate our development cycle.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did
you overcome it?
As I mentioned, we started with an online ordering marketplace, OrderOrchard.com, for the Hanover community. Marketplaces are always tricky because of the chicken and egg problem. Customers don’t go to your site unless you have all the nearby restaurants and restaurants don’t have an incentive to sign up until you have a large user base. We overcame this by simultaneously launching marketing campaigns for users and then sprinting to sign up restaurants. It wasn’t smooth, but we were able to cobble together a few initial restaurants and couple that with a small user foothold. Over time, our service has expanded to most of the restaurants in Hanover and over 4000 local active users.
What’s the best advice you have received?
One of my mentors told me to “just keep jumping at opportunities.” It seems simple, but running a startup is a daunting thing. Issues crop up and you’re not always very popular. His advice has been very helpful for me to keep a level head and believe in the process of consistency. We’ve learned the most about our business when things begin to wobble and I now embrace that.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
New Hampshire has been a wonderful home over the past 4 years. It seems to have a growing entrepreneurial community, which I think will have many positive externalities for the state. I have had a great experience working with the businesses in Hanover and I am confident the same hospitality runs throughout the state.
What does the future look like for your company?
Orchard will come to redefine the food service industry. There are many inefficiencies that unnecessarily force the industry into low margins, long hours, and inconsistent operating conditions. Most of these can be solved by applying the power of modern software, but there must be a reliable infrastructure platform to facilitate this delivery. We are working to shape Orchard into the infrastructure backbone that the industry relies upon. The next step is expanding our terminal network by partnering with independent operators and regional chains. We look forward to eventually servicing national brands as well.