The BizSpark startup of the day is Diner Connection by Moxie Software, based in the US. Below you will find an interview with Geoffrey Simpson, CTO of Moxie Software. All the best to them and congratulations for being the startup of the day!
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
For a small company that doesn’t have enough people to have proper titles, my business card says I am the Chief Technology Officer. What my job entails is everything from designing, implementing and maintaining our application to running payroll and assembling our trade show booth.
What did you do before creating your company?
I have been involved in several startup companies before this one, but this is my first in an ownership position. I have been doing professional software development since college, and along the way I picked up my MBA in preparation for leading a company.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
I have been a developer using Microsoft tools for almost my entire development career. Microsoft has proven time and time again that their development tools and platforms are the best. I am honored and excited to be recognized as a Microsoft BizSpark ‘Startup of the Day’, it provides additional recognition of the idea and product we are focused on making the best.
What is your company’s mission?
It is the mission of Diner Connection to provide the restaurant industry the best communication solutions to enable restaurants to excel. By bridging the gap between company and customer, Diner Connection gives restaurants the key to successful marketing, notification, and communication. Starting with letting customers know their tables are ready with a text message and continuing the conversation with take-out order ready notifications and marketing.
How did you get the idea for your company?
From the time my wife, Shawna, and I stepped foot on the island of Oahu, the tropical paradise surrounded and embraced us. This was the first we had visited Hawaii and it was immediately apparent why it is prized as the paradise of the United States. The time we spent in Honolulu was valuable, as like most everyone, we had to eventually return to their life back in the continental United States. One of the evenings spent in Honolulu, we decided to eat at a restaurant right off beautiful Waikiki beach. As with most restaurants in Honolulu, this one had a wait. We were given a restaurant pager and told they had to stay within 100 feet of the restaurant for the pager to work. Here we were, on the precipice of a magnificent island paradise, but stranded on the sidewalk away from tourist shops selling imported mementos of time spent waiting for a table. This was the original inspiration for Diner Connection.
In early 2010, Moxie Software was established as a Software consulting and product company. I was doing custom software development for clients across the United States. I had been following a company by the name of Twilio since I had participated in a Startup Weekend in 2009, since they were partially sponsoring the event. Twilio held a contest for the best use of their text API (Application Programming Interface) within an application. This was the perfect excuse I needed to create the application that my wife and I had needed during their vacation in Hawaii. The application I wrote was named Waiting4aTable.com and it was a restaurant waiting list application that sent text messages to the customers to let them know their table was ready. The application won the Twilio Developers Contest (http://blog.twilio.com/2010/02/sms-developer-contest-week-2-winner-is-waiting4atable-by-geoffrey-simpson.html).
The recognition that came with winning the contest and releasing it for free on the Internet led us to start pursuing this as a formal software product. Shawna gathered feedback from restaurants who used the application. A set of features were established as the core functionality of a new software application that would embrace and extend the Waiting4aTable.com application. We formally launched Diner Connection at the Oklahoma Restaurant Association tradeshow on September 1, 2010.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
We have been fortunate to have our consulting services that have been the primary source of funding for the Diner Connection product. We have also had additional angel investment from family, which has helped us to reach potential customers with marketing and trade shows. We are currently investigating additional angel investing for up to $250,000. Our product is selling well and we believe that we can offset the need for funding with the profits from Diner Connection.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
We have two full time employees, Shawna Simpson is the President, and she handles the sales, marketing and is the product manager. I am the primary software developer for the product.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
We are not currently hiring, but we are evaluating our sales and marketing approach and plan on hiring sales people across the United States to better penetrate the market.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
I believe that there are endless opportunities for software. We still have a shortage of software startups; there are endless possibilities for applications that people are willing to pay for. The difficult part is finding the niche that you have enough knowledge in and fix a problem that they have.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
I absolutely love the BizSpark program; it has given us the opportunity to develop on the platform of our choice and be able to afford it. More of our startup capital can be reinvested into the company instead of purchasing development tools. When you are bootstrapping like we were in the beginning, this makes a huge difference in our finances. I tell developers about the BizSpark program as often as I can, because it shows that Microsoft is willing to give startups a leg up by providing industry leading technologies to them without a large capital investment.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Start learning about business as soon as you can. My undergraduate degree is in Computer Science, and when I started looking at starting my own company, I realized there was a whole world of knowledge that I had not obtained through my schooling. I went back to get an MBA specifically to learn how to run a company, and it provided a better understanding of what is involved in financing, personnel management, sales and marketing.
Who’s your role model?
I have been blessed to have many family members who have started companies and have succeeded greatly. My wife, Shawna is a fantastic role model for me, as well as my parents. My greatest inspiration comes from my great-grandfather who founded a company that has a current market-cap of half a billion dollars.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
I have been looking for years for the right idea for to start a company with, and the idea for this product just popped into my head one weekend, and I jumped on it. Always be looking for a problem that can be solved with software, and then dedicate yourself to do it. The coding is the easy part, starting a successful company is challenging, but very worth it.