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ence under his belt at household names including Mic- rosoft, Mapquest, and Google. It didn't take long for Taylor to recognize the error of his choice. Was the new CEO a brilliant technologist? Check. Did he work for some of the most venerable brands in the industry? Check. Was he committed to making succeed or die trying? Not so much. "A lot of entrepreneurs face similar situations, where they start to doubt themselves and begin thinking that there might be someone better suited to grow their com- pany to its full potential," says Taylor. "I'm not a tech- nical CEO by any stretch of the imagination, and there I was running a technology company." That sliver of doubt led to the hired hand, whose modus operandi for growth was to burn through the company's big round of funding, hire up, and spend big on elaborate marketing. Meanwhile, the market for online ordering, while growing, wasn't taking off like the wildfire the new CEO had expected. When's growth trajectory stalled, Taylor says the writing was clearly on the wall. "You can hire brilliant, talented people, but if they don't have the fight in them when times get tough, they're simply not going to succeed," explains Taylor. "Our core team knew that mobile ordering would represent a sea change for the restaurant industry. We also knew that we arrived at the party a bit early, but we were willing and ready to fight through that situation, to keep mov- ing forward." That fight, says Taylor, is the magic elixir of entrepre- neurship. "It's so much more powerful than having tech- nical knowledge, and it's what we needed in the head of- fice. Someone without any quit in them." That someone was decidedly Taylor, who reassumed the role of CEO a mere 24 months after onboarding the hired hand. "You can't hand off your dream to someone who doesn't have the same fundamental belief in that dream." exemplified the success of mobile applications similar to ours. Those that most closely resembled online or- dering were loyalty apps," says Taylor. "That was about the time Starbucks really started pushing its mobile loyalty app, so we grabbed onto that and really focused on getting our investors excited and energetic about the big brands that were rolling out mobile loyalty." Taylor and company made a compelling case for the idea that mobile loyalty would lead to mobile ordering, and that mobile ordering was, in fact, an even more central and direct way of connecting with consumers because of the immediate benefits it provides them. An early win with local favorite restaurant chain Snarf 's and the fortuitous timing of the Apple App Store launch ( July 2008) gave the fledgling company further traction. "We have a chain of sandwich shops called Snarf 's that started in Boulder, and it was our first cus- tomer," says Taylor. "We built them a branded mobile order entry app and made it available on the App Store. In some Snarf 's stores, customers are doing 20 percent of their daily order volume on our application," says Taylor. As volume grew, the company's ratings on the App Store climbed steadily. Sharing these wins with investors helped the company maintain its financial momentum, even before the market for online ordering had been fully defined. By 2013, the company had arrived on investors' radar, earning it a second round of VC funding. This time, a $4.66 million commitment put the company in growth- through-spending mode, and it began making what Taylor, in hindsight, admits were some pretty signifi- cant mistakes. R ES E T M O M E NT I N T H E C- S U I T E In 2013, with its text-based legacy long behind it and a fresh round of funding, was on a run. The com- pany was pairing its API-based platform with a host of front- and back-end restaurant systems, including other software applications, voice ordering solutions, websites, and call centers. A modular toolkit built into the API enabled the company's restaurant customers to customize the user interface to meet their brand and functionality requirements with little to no develop- ment effort on the part of team Its customer base numbered in the thousands of sites. Riding the momentum of a market that had finally come around to online ordering, Taylor decided the best way to ratchet up the growth of the company he founded was to step aside, to bring some fresh leadership talent into the C-suite, someone with the tech chops he never had. He hired an upstart with ridiculously rich Silicon Valley experience, a young, bright technical mind who, at the time, had a few years of product management experi- " THAT SHOW IS WHERE WE LAUNCHED OUR PRODUCT. THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS THAT WE DIDN ' T REALLY HAVE A PRODUCT. " Rob Taylor CEO/Founder/Chairman at SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 22 EXCLUSIVE FEATURE Executive By M. Pillar PERSISTENCE PERSONIFIED

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