Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Sprwt was started in a small village in Europe in 2016. Many years ago, my partner Rui Marinho and I, Michael Rapoport, were tasked with creating a system for a startup looking to bring healthy meal delivery to Europe. What we didn't know then was the market was not ready. We came back to South Florida with a software platform in hand thinking no one would ever want meal prep delivery software. What were we going to do with all this code? We were so wrong.
A few months passed, and the Slickview development team began working on a prototype that would work in the US Markets. Michael set off to sign Sprwt's initial clients. To their complete disbelief, after just 2 days 4 companies wanted the system, but with a catch... at least 50+ features.
And that's how we started. 4 companies told us exactly what system they needed for a software solution to be functional. So, we set off building what a meal prep company needed to run their business. Our philosophy hasn't changed since.
We work with everyone in the process from chefs to delivery drivers and baggage minions to store managers. We've always believed we need to build a product that works for everyone, not just the owner. Many years later and here we are today.
We have the most efficient and effective meal prep software platform on the market. Today we’ve built technology for any restaurant, catering company, or meal prep business to run an online store, sell items with our POS device, or even create delivery routes with our route planning technology. We generate $1million plus in revenue per month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I recall sitting in my apartment in Pompano Beach thinking, there’s no way a company exists, and to my disbelief, there were one 10 minutes from me. I immediately called the company’s number and was connected with the owner, and the next day we had a meeting scheduled to demo our product. It could have been beginner's luck, so I continued my google search and once again another company an hr away. Fast forward a week and we had up to $47,000 in revenue for our product for a perpetuity licensing fee. We knew we only needed $10,000 so we took a deal in Georgia and continued expanding our technology. With all the feedback we received, we knew we were on the right path.
In February of 2018, we signed our first non-beta client; and that success was immediately met with total chaos and stress. We thought we had a product but we were wrong, the reality is we built a product that worked for 5 companies in Florida but that didn’t result in a product solution for companies all over the world. Within a few weeks, lots of all-nighters, and many-many stressful development meetings, we successfully built a stable V1 of our product.
In our first quarter in operation, we generated over $60,000 in annual contract revenue.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
After we decided to take the route of licensing this software platform we built, this was in January 2017, we were lucky to have an initial cash investment of $20,000+ and a roadmap of features to build in order for us to be successful. We organized them from frontend features to backend features and chronologically organized every feature based on difficulty to implement.
We immediately got to work on accomplishing as many of these features as possible by our launch date in March 2017. We had already developed a significantly structured system, and we had several ideas we wanted to add beforehand, but the most important features we developed were those we never thought of due to lack of industry experience. Every single employee had a pivotal role in making a meal prep business successful, and truth be told there were times the owners had no idea what their employees were doing that led to successful results. It was our place to interview each and every individual within the operation to gain the proper insights to develop a product that worked.
One of our clients' delivery driver gave us the opportunity to improve our platform significantly with the concept of a bag label. A simple 4x2 shipping label designed to improve the efficacy of a delivery driver. A sticker that said how many meals should be in the bag, where it was to be delivered, and which driver was in charge of that route. But we took it further... We implemented a QR code on these labels that could be scanned by the fulfillment team to open a detailed customer order invoice stating what meals go into each bag. Additionally, a delivery could then use that label to scan the QR code and update the status of the bag from en route to deliver to return; this massively improved the delivery team’s workflow and reduce expenses for business owners by tracking which customers were and were not returning their bags.
In truth, we are an old-school business; we googled every company and called 30+ businesses a day. Almost two years after our launch did we start implementing a digital marketing component to our lead generation and sales.
When we first started selling our product, we sold a package for $1,000 per month. Initially, this worked perfectly, the clients we contacted were brands with established revenues and easily found the value in our service and the price. However, six months into our first year we began running into a consistent issue; companies could not afford our services albeit the dire necessity to use it.
We then surveyed a bunch of these companies during our demo process and discussed internally what product we could create at cheaper price points to accommodate the market segmentation’s need. A few weeks later and we came up with two new pricing tiers; a plan for $250 per month and $500 per month.
Today we have clients globally, spanning 5 continents, and have created solutions for meal prep companies, restaurants, and catering companies alike. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a massive increase in demand for our technology and feature requests that allowed us to see the future of where Sprwt could go.
Even though four years have passed since inception, our philosophy has stayed the same. We’re building several new technologies including a route planning system that directly integrates with our platform allowing our customers to automatically import their orders and calculate the most efficient route depending on how many active drivers they have.
We’re also building some very nifty POS technology that directly integrates with our backend kitchen management system and online e-commerce ordering system. Customers can walk into a restaurant and order in person, they can then create an account that syncs their order history and CC information to order online. They can order online orders to pick up in a store with the grab and go menu or pick up from the meal prep menu with a weekly subscription. What we’re trying to build will change how to meal prep companies and restaurants operate a digital e-commerce platform for their menus.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Our launch was a very funny story, we sought to create a product for a completely different market and usage and ended up with technology on a hard drive that would inevitably be useless. We called a few companies to see who wanted our code and to our complete dismay, four companies spanning 3 states called us within a week and offered us $47,000.
We were 100% debt free and decided to sign one of these companies as an initial client. We took the $10,000 from our first sale and hired an additional developer and began making improvements to our system. A month later we sold our first client, then the next a few days after, and so forth.
The startup process was unlike any other, we were lucky to have a product in a beta format. We completely pivoted our ideas and redesigned almost every aspect of our technology but we discovered a market we had no idea about and most importantly filled a need that had no solution on the market.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The most important feedback we can give any aspiring entrepreneur is to listen to your market and customer feedback and be CREATIVE. Creativity is the difference between solving a need and becoming a gimmick or has been.
In truth, we are an old-school business; we googled every company and called 30+ businesses a day. And with time we started improving our scripts and getting a high percentage to book a demo. And we had at that time a 70% close rate. Almost two years after our launch did we start implementing a digital marketing component to our lead generation and sales. All of our clients within the first year were pivotal to our growth. Every feature they requested we built free of charge because we knew that if it benefited them it most definitely would benefit someone else. And we were right.
Businesses during their maturity have to seek new ways to create additional revenue and there are two paths. Ring the towel dry for every dollar your customers have OR find creative solutions to incorporate into your business product mix that provide real value to your customers. With technology, this seems a lot easier than manufacturing goods, but the truth is the two are the same.
We had several clients in our first year complaining about the costs to deliver meals, it was an expensive low-margin aspect to their business, but it’s in the name of their business -meal prep delivery. One of these concepts was the pick-up location. A meal prep company may have 40 deliveries, and to do each one individually costs time and money and can lead to several errors. Rather than delivering to each customer’s home, a driver can deliver all 40 meals to a single location. This location would be a centralized hub and also provide a free delivery method to the customer. Not only did it benefit the customer, but it also benefited the owner of the location.
A gym owner who wants their customers to see results knows good eating habits will help, partnering with a meal prep ensures their customers get the proper fitness routine and food nutrition. Not only does the gym owner get a direct revenue stream from his membership, but with these pick-up locations, he can even retain a revenue of food sold in his gym.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our company today is skyrocketing (BH). We have built a tremendous product that has surpassed our expectations in 2017. We’ve since expanded into POS technology, delivery route planning tools, online ordering, digital advertising services, food management technology, and continue to seek new ways we can transform the restaurant industry.
Our goal is to perfect our POS solution and provide restaurants the opportunity to run real-time cooking reports with their retail and restaurant operations. With accurate food management and procurement reports, kitchens will be able to utilize Sprwt systems to know exactly what they are spending, how much food they need, and predicting technology to manage their restaurant’s growth.
Additionally, we are looking to expand our delivery route planning system in the immediate short term to give all meal prep delivery business and restaurants utilizing internal delivery drivers a system that connects their Sprwt system with direct API integration into route planning software.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is the importance of employees. When you hire employees, they do not work for you but you work for them. Your goal is to provide your employees with all the resources they need in order to accomplish their tasks as efficiently as possible. When I started building out our sales team my first goal was to create a comprehensive training program with a playbook to break down the script step by step. By doing this my new sales employees were able to make their first cold-call and sale within the first two weeks.
Additionally, giving employees empowerment to be CREATIVE is unparalleled to any other resource. Create a task at hand but allow them to tackle it as they see fit. Whether the employee is a developer, salesperson, customer service agent, allowing them to fully empower themselves creates solutions that yield the best results.
Opportunities exist everywhere, you just need to realize that it takes work to make them happen.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use 3 applications that are not built by Sprwt. Stripe, Twilio, and Mailerlite. All of these three products are pivotal to how we grow.
Stripe is the payment processor that gives us our API to manage all CP and CNP transactions as well as the terminal API for our POS system. We work with Twilio as a backend solution that we utilize as our internal Sprwt SMS system, and finally, we work with Mailerlite as our email marketing solution.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
People have this strange conceptualization that once you finish college your education stops. I do not. I consistently read at least 3 times a week. Some of my favorite business-psychology authors include Adam Grant and Malcolm Gladwell, but most will find me reading works from the Lubavitcher Rebbe and other famous religious authors alike.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Execute. Stop wanting some dream and believing it will come freely. Instead understand that your reality will most likely be years of struggle, months and months of no revenue, weeks of misery, days of reluctance to continue, and to top of it, all of you’ll most probably have no support except for a very-very small circle. But don’t stop. Work smart and efficiently.
Second, be creative. Opportunities exist everywhere, you just need to realize that it takes work to make them happen. Chipotle is just another Mexican restaurant built by a man who had a passion to build a fine-dining restaurant. He didn’t build his passion, he built what was needed.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re constantly looking for additional developers, account executives, a PPC specialist who really knows what they are doing, and customer support agents. We look for candidates who have a background in technology and have a strong work ethic and desire to grow in a startup environment.
At the current time, we are heavily investing in our sales and marketing team. We’re currently building our account executive and customer success team and are looking to fill 5 full-time positions. We’re also looking for a full-time digital marketing manager.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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