Do you have a patent on it?

That’s what I was asked the other day when telling someone about our business. He said, and I quote, “That’s it? Do you have a patent on it? It seems like anyone could just copy what your doing.”

Hmm, I thought. Maybe he had a good point and we went (and are going) about this the wrong way? Maybe we should have simply tried to patent employee scheduling for independent restaurants and discourage any more innovation and a bigger market from forming? Like some sinister Dr. Evil type of guy who’s decided that his solution to a simple problem should be the only option the world should ever know?

I like what we’ve built, but I don’t like it enough to assume it’s the best invention ever. It’s not an invention and it’s right for the right people. It’s not for everyone. I guess maybe if we had invented those cool peel back ketchup packets that Chic-Fil-A uses, we might try to be the only one in town….that seems like an invention. But for us, other companies offering a similar software is great for our growth because people learn about us after hearing from them. They look around to see all their options and end up finding us and feeling like our solution is the best fit. They get to make a choice and that’s huge. I think they are much more likely to be a long time happy customer if they get to choose us.

The bottom line is: we want people to find exactly what they need (no matter who they heard about first) and I can’t imagine that happening in an industry where companies are trying to be the one and only solution for everyone.