When I began to create Schedulefly, there were no official “software requirements”. There were no meetings beforehand with other developers or shareholders or investors. There was no money. There was no discussion about out how the system would be architected, where it would live, how it would scale to thousands of users etc. There was no plan. It did not even have a logo or a name. It was just me and my laptop at my house and a blank slate and memories of working at a restaurant. I just started. By the way, I ended up naming it Schedulefly because I envisioned schedules flying to the staff over the web instead of requiring the phone and also, I love fly fishing and tying flies.
I spent about 4 months coding a basic system that I knew would help restaurant managers create and deliver a schedule to their staff over the web. I knew it would because I used to be a waiter that had to phone the person making my schedule every week and also call the restaurant (or drive to it) to see when I worked. Ultimately I was the guy who made the schedule for 40 wait staff and they guy getting called – all the time. Oh, I also had to drive the schedule to the restaurant (clear across town) every Sunday and hang it on the wall. This very simple problem is clearly a problem for lots and lots of businesses in other industries – but I was not thinking about other businesses. I never worked at a tanning salon, or a car wash, or a retail store. I was coding every day thinking about the restaurant where I spent a huge amount of time in college. That’s all I knew and that’s who this was going to be for. It’s funny – 5 years later – I still hear from friends and new people I meet about all the industries that need help with scheduling (retail, healthcare, manufacturing etc.) and that we should consider selling to them too – then after 1 minute of me explaining why I created it and why Tyler and Wil and I are having wonderful success so far – they get it. They understand. Oh and as a side note, I also explain that there are thousands and thousands of restaurants in the U.S. just like the one I have vivid memories of…so you know. Just sayin’.
Well, back to the story I wanted to share. Every day now, restaurants just like that one where I spent most of my college years are signing up and paying us to help them. Over time, more people are hearing about us, causing our trial pipeline to grow and our conversion rates are increasing because we focus on them and can target our message and our features to help them. Sure, for the sake of more revenue and growth we could try and make other industries happy – but in the end I know we would only make everyone sort of happy and probably not very loyal. Plus, I’d likely end up dreading getting up to work every day and getting mad at myself for spreading to thin. So we stick to what we know and let restaurants know this is for them and we stay focused. They are trying it every day and saying “Yeah, we like it, how do we pay?”. Wow. Nothing is more satisfying than to know that they think it will help their business. I get so excited when they do this that I just want to drive or fly to their restaurant and give them a big hug (or a fist bump) and thank them for their business…and eat their food and drink their beer and be a customer of theirs too. I wish I could. I just knew deep down in my core that it would help them, and I saw them sign up for a free trial and they chose to join our family.
I am feeling so lucky to have the team I do (Wil and Tyler) and to be a small part of the momentum that’s building in the restaurant industry…