At American Express, I was part of the restaurant industry team, charged with influencing the dining decisions of more than 60 million cardholders. I wanted digital tools that could help American Express operate on a national level while helping customers and restaurants transact locally. Existing food ordering portals didn’t have the coverage or technical flexibility I needed and the cost and complexity of building something from scratch made that option unrealistic.
There needs to be an easier way for any brand or developer to get involved in food ordering, I thought.
The idea for Ordr.in (pronounced Order In) came from that experience: our vision was an online food ordering platform on which any food ordering app could be built. With detailed restaurant menu data, payments and order processing all handled by software- it would help thousands of restaurants, big brands and independent software developers build the food ordering systems right for them using ecommerce-as-a-service.
I couldn’t create this on my own, though. So I vetted my idea with lots of business people and looks for the right technical cofounder. Years ago my wife worked with Felix Sheng and stayed Facebook friends. I remember pitching him in his living room, hoping he would refer me to someone qualified. Instead he looked at me and said “I want to do it.” I was shocked, thrilled and said yes right away!
Our first task was assembling a restaurant network so the platform would have content, and then the APIs and other developer tools. Now that we have over 20,000 restaurants and APIs for menus, payments, user profiles and ordering our business is taking off.
Most exciting is the creativity that is suddenly flooding into our space. But in just the last few months we’ve seen apps for in-restaurant dining, order pizza with one click, voice activated ordering, food ordering for hospital patients and more. There is no limit to what can be built.
Ordr.in’s business opportunity really comes at the end of the process by developers and web site publishers. We make all of the menu data and access to our APIs completely free. Ordr.in receives a commission for every order the restaurant receives through our platform; we give a portion of it back to the web developers and publishers to encourage them to use us when working with other restaurants.
Microsoft has been an immense help for us. I look at it as one of the world’s biggest opportunities for a small company because they work with – and are – one of the world’s largest brands. We were thrilled beyond belief for the chance to work with them and use their products free of charge through the BizSpark program.
Currently, we’re working closely with the Windows 8, Phone and Xbox teams and we are designing a data warehouse using Windows Azure to help us manage the vast amount of information we are gathering. We are focusing on building for scale because we believe the more restaurants, developers and publishers we engage, the stronger our business will be in the future. Since Azure lets users scale applications to any size, we can ensure effective service to all the restaurants that are signing up on Ordr.in.
Some people thought I was nuts to take the startup risk but nobody’s advice is more important than your own when you are an entrepreneur. I listened to that little voice inside that told me Ordr.in was not just a unique idea but one that could change the way the an entire industry operated. Those ideas are rare and I didn’t want to ignor it.
Felix and I have a saying: “You might not be able to imagine the world in five years with us but in five years, you won’t be able to imagine the world without us.”
David Bloom, CEO
Felix Sheng, CTO