Can Data Build the Perfect Pizza Shop? Featuring Olo CEO Noah Glass

March 21, 2018

Noah Glass

One day in 2003, Noah Glass was fed up with waiting in line for coffee. There must be a better way, he thought.

Today, he is the Founder and CEO of Olo, which provides order-ahead technology for 200 restaurant brands, including sweetgreen, Chipotle and Shake Shack, across 40,000 locations. Olo has raised over $63 million and says that when brands add digital ordering to their restaurants, they see on average a 25 percent increase in ticket size. In this episode, we explore:

  • How delivery is changing the game for restaurants — and why grocery stores want in on the action.
  • How data can construct the perfect menu.
  • What weird ordering habits Olo keeps track of.
  • Why Amazon would want to acquire Whole Foods.
  • And so much more!

Want to make your own company more data-driven? Learn how Indicative can help.

Full Transcript

Lauren Feiner: You might not remember this, but it used to be that the only way to get food from a restaurant was to go there yourself. Back before iPhones and Androids, there was no such thing as avoiding the lunch line by ordering ahead on an app. And delivery for meals other than pizza and Chinese food hardly existed outside of major cities.

But in this long-forgotten pre-smartphone era, circa 2003, Noah Glass decided he was done wasting time in line for his morning cup of coffee.

“It started with my need as a consumer to get coffee faster…”

Noah Glass: It started with my need as a consumer to get coffee faster, or my frustration with not being able to get my coffee as quickly as I wanted my caffeine in the morning. And I thought there’d be a much better way for me to get coffee if I could order and pay before I arrived at the coffee shop. Have them prepare the order and have it ready and waiting for me when I got there.

Lauren Feiner: So Noah created the early 2000s-version of mobile app ordering.

Noah Glass: Originally back when nobody had a smartphone, we had to build this to basically emulate what ordering from a mobile phone would look like. We had to dumb it down for text message order. So, the way that worked was a little bit clunky and rudimentary, but it worked in that a customer would create an account online, link their cell phone to that account through a double opt-in text message… Link their credit card to their account, go to the menu that they wanted to order from, and create their favorite orders.

… But the amazing thing was once you got through that process of creating your account and selecting your favorite orders, we would then text your favorite orders to you. And then the ordering would just be texting back a number corresponding to the order that you wanted back to our shortcode. So it is was a single digit that you would text back and we’d fire your order directly into the restaurant, paid on your credit card on file, and you’d walk in and skip the line and have that schadenfreude of passing everybody who is waiting for their coffee.

Lauren Feiner: Today, Noah’s transformed this idea into a company called Olo, where he’s the CEO. Even if you don’t recognize Olo’s name, you’ve probably used their technology when ordering from some of their customers: sweetgreen, Chipotle, Shake Shack, Applebee’s, Denny’s, Five Guys, Wingstop, Chili’s … just to name a few.

And the technology has gotten a bit more sophisticated.

Noah Glass: So today we’ve integrated into over 25 different restaurant point of sale systems and the orders are released into the kitchen just in time. So, if you’re picking up for, say 6 o’clock tonight, and your order takes seven minutes to prepare, at 5:53 we’ll drop that order into the kitchen. They’ll make it just in time and when you walk in at six, it’s ready and waiting for you.

Lauren Feiner: From Indicative, you’re listening to Deciding by Data.

The podcast that brings you into the C-suite to learn how data drives successful businesses.

These are your hosts:

Andrew Weinreich: I’m Andrew Weinreich.

Jeremy Levy: And I’m Jeremy Levy.

Lauren Feiner: Today on the show, how Olo used data to pivot from a cash-bleeding B2C company, to a B2B service used in 40,000 restaurant locations.

And, what Olo can tell us about the future of the foodservice industry, like how to make the world’s most data-driven pizza shop.

Jeremy Levy: Back around 2008, before Noah’s company was even called Olo, the team was forced to reconsider the business.

Noah Glass: It was at the time of the financial crisis. And we were looking at and really scrutinizing our marketing budget. And I remember looking and saying, you know we’re spending about $150,000 a month and we’re getting about 10,000 customers, so our cost to acquire a customer, simple math, $15. Are we sure that the lifetime value of these customers in every cohort is actually going to surpass $15? The answer was we weren’t really sure. And then we looked at what was happening in a different market where we weren’t doing active marketing, but instead a restaurant had heard about us through some PR in Dallas, Texas, is where they were based, and they said, we just want to use your technology. We’re going to market to our own customers.

…We saw, yes in fact, we are getting a lot more customers on a per restaurant basis when they are directly marketing to their existing loyal customer base, and we’re spending zero dollars to acquire consumers. So that led to us in this kind of soul-searching moment in 2008 of the financial crisis to say, ‘Why are we spending $150,000 per month? Let’s pivot and let’s be a B2B provider to restaurants who want to market to their customers kind of a B2B2C model. And then we’ll be able to charge those restaurants a flat fee per month, per store as a software as a service provider and let them go and market to their consumers.’ And that’s the model that we’ve stuck with ever since. And I remember about a year after making that change, walking into a board meeting and saying, We were spending $150,000 and getting 10,000 new users each month. Now we’re getting paid $150,000 and we’re getting 100,000 new consumers each month. This feels like a much better model. We should keep pursuing this.

“We were spending $150,000 and getting 10,000 new users each month. Now we’re getting paid $150,000 and we’re getting 100,000 new consumers each month. This feels like a much better model. We should keep pursuing this.”

Jeremy Levy: Almost a decade since its pivot to B2B, Olo is no longer just for takeout. It’s entered the delivery space too.

Noah Glass: Yeah delivery has become a subject of increasing importance in the restaurant industry. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say it is the top of everybody’s list of initiatives coming into 2018. You go to any restaurant conference and everybody is talking about delivery. Both the good parts of it, hey, it’s driving incremental sales volume. And the bad parts of it, hey, they’re charging a 20 to 30 percent commission on every order they send in.

Jeremy Levy: Who’s they? When you say “they,” who’s they?

Noah Glass: So “they” refers to the third party restaurant delivery marketplaces, the GrubHub, Seamless, Amazon Restaurants. They’re engaging with these enterprise restaurant brands after having kind of cut their teeth with the smaller restaurant chains. And it’s really the first time that the large enterprise restaurants have had to think about paying a 20 to 30 percent commission to appeal to that on-demand consumer who has now been trained to order from the third party restaurant delivery marketplace.

Jeremy Levy: Does that also include, when I think about sort of the fulfillment aspect, obviously the restaurant’s making the food, does that include also how that gets from the restaurant to the consumer?

Noah Glass: It does. So in the traditional model of a business like Grubhub, it was the restaurant delivering the food. So there, it was a very pure, we’re charging you a commission for driving this order to you. What’s happened as delivery has expanded is you have the delivery marketplaces also acting as delivery service providers where they are the ones who are hiring typically independent contractor delivery couriers to go and pick up the order at the restaurant-

Jeremy Levy: Rather than the restaurant hiring someone themselves as a delivery person that they’re staffing full time or part time on an on demand, as needed basis as deliveries or orders come in the restaurant.

Noah Glass: That’s right. So actually, Olo’s first product in the delivery space was to enable restaurants to take orders from their direct sales channel, the channel that we power, and then connect into those third-party delivery service providers, skipping having to pay a marketplace for the commission fees. So the consumer would see the true cost of the delivery attached to their order as an additional convenience and they could elect to either go pick up the order themselves or use our dispatch product which finds a nearby courier to come pick up that order and deliver it from the restaurant to the consumer. So that was a nice way for restaurants who didn’t have their own delivery drivers to really truly add delivery as a service.

There is kind of a blurring of the lines now where restaurants are engaging with these delivery marketplaces and the cost of that is not just, I’m paying literally twice as much as I would for just the delivery service, it’s also, that consumer is now the consumer of the delivery marketplace, not the restaurant’s consumer. Because now the restaurant doesn’t get the CRM data about that customer, they’d just get that transaction. And so it’s almost like the restaurant gets to puff up its same-store sales but they’re losing a lot of profitability and they’re losing control of that consumer base.

Jeremy Levy: Why is delivery so important? Because nowadays, only 38 percent of restaurant purchases are consumed inside the actual restaurant.

And delivery has a lot of room to grow.

Noah says that of the remaining 62 percent of restaurant sales, 39 percent is purchased for pick-up or take-out, 20 percent is drive-thru sales, and just 3 percent is delivered straight to the consumer.

Andrew Weinreich: We’re talking about a global food delivery market that in 2016 was valued at 114 billion dollars.

And research firm Euromonitor International expects it to grow by 8.5 percent a year, according to a May article in The Chicago Tribune.

Noah Glass: What’s happened in the last couple of years, is that delivery is starting to spread outside of the major markets and into the rest of the country. And that’s why these big enterprise restaurant chains are now thinking about delivery really for the first time. But yes, I mean it’s amazing when you think there are more takeout transactions annually than there are dine-in transactions. And nearly double the number of drive-thru transactions or takeout transactions. And takeout is 13 times the size of delivery. If you strip pizza out of delivery, it’s only 1 percent of the 60 billion transactions that happen in the U.S each year.

“What’s happened in the last couple of years, is that delivery is starting to spread outside of the major markets and into the rest of the country.”

Jeremy Levy: How is that changing how people are eating? It sounds like this is changing like literally, like rather than having some cooked dinner at home its, well let’s still eat at home, but let’s order in or let’s have it delivered. How is that changing?

Noah Glass: Well, that’s exactly right. So, where you see this really reflected is the share of food dollar across grocery which has been traditionally called, “food at home” and restaurants, which has traditionally been called, “food away from home.” And the irony is that now people are having this “food away from home,” restaurant food, at home. So, they are getting food at the restaurant and they’re bringing home with them. And that’s just because, everybody is busy they don’t have time to cook. It’s just easier to outsource it to a restaurant, get food at the restaurant, and take it home with you to have dinner on the table.

Jeremy Levy: Does that mean that cooking is going to become, as we look toward the future, something more of a thing that’s really done from a hobbyist perspective more so than substance perspective?

Noah Glass: I think that’s right. I think that you have the counter-trend of meal kits, and you have grocery stores that are also trying to prepare more food, and take steps out of preparing food. I say this as somebody who has taken on cooking as a hobby over the last couple of years. I’m the son of a cookbook author. I think cooking at home is great. I just think a lot of people don’t have time for it. And you see that in aggregate when you look at the trend of restaurant share of food dollar, versus grocery share of food dollar. It used to be like restaurants were 15 percent of all that Americans spent on eating. Now it’s above 50 percent, and that’s been a steady arc over the course of the last 50 years. It was only last year that restaurant spending surpassed grocery spending. They’re both about $800 billion industries now.

“It used to be like restaurants were 15 percent of all that Americans spent on eating. Now it’s above 50 percent, and that’s been a steady arc over the course of the last 50 years.”

Jeremy Levy: What’s more cost-effective? Like when I cook at home, I inevitably spend more money to make a meal than when I go out to dinner. Is that changing in terms of how the cost-effectiveness the way families are eating?

Noah Glass: I think it’s really economizing based on time and not on money. And I think that that’s really what it is. It’s about specialization and outsourcing to a trained expert, somebody who’s a Culinary Institute of America trained chef, who can prepare the food for you. I mean why would you take the time to go get the food, prep the food, learn to cook the recipe, inevitably throwing out food and wasting it, which is probably why it can be more expensive than eating at a restaurant when you can get a great meal prepared by a great chef. And eat it at home without any of the hassle… I think that that’s the trend that you see with things like Uber and other on-demand services is, time is the most valuable entity that we have. And let’s maximize our time by outsourcing the things that take a lot of time in our daily lives. That’s what eating at restaurants versus cooking for oneself is really all about.

Jeremy Levy: If you had to sort of predict, what will be sort of the trend in the way in-dining restaurants work? Will they become more of dining experiences? In other words, entertainment moreso than a good meal?

Noah Glass: Yeah certainly. I think that one of the things that people go to restaurants for is entertainment and it’s not pure sustenance. It’s something about the environment that you’re in, it’s something about the social setting that you’re in. I think restaurants that are really great environments and great social settings are going to do well. I think there are a lot of restaurants that are really just kitchens, and don’t need to have a dining room, or need to have a smaller dining room now.

“I think there are a lot of restaurants that are really just kitchens, and don’t need to have a dining room, or need to have a smaller dining room now.”

Andrew Weinreich: As restaurants expand their delivery strategies, they’re also growing their data insights.

Noah Glass: For the first time, restaurants can now see their customers at the customer level. They’re able to see products and their performance across stores. They’re able to see how different stores are performing against one another. But with Olo and the fact the customer is now signing onto their accounts and placing the order linked back to that same email address, that same identifier, now a restaurant can see a customer across multiple transactions for the first time and that’s really, really powerful. I mean that is the beginnings of CRM in an industry that has really never had CRM at its speed and at its scale.

Andrew Weinreich: Maybe you can give us an example of a restaurant that was able to interpret data and alter their menu or alter their marketing or something based on the data you’re providing them.

Noah Glass: I mean this happens on a daily basis that we’re on a call with a restaurant interpreting their results and we’re able to say, ‘Hey, look at what the data showing us.’ I’ll give you an example that happened a couple of weeks ago. We were speaking to a restaurant that kind of bills itself as Chipotle for pizza. It’s a largely a build your own pizza in a line format, but they have a lot of chef-inspired creations. And, kind of true to their essence, we were able to say, ‘Hey, look what people are doing online. Ninety percent of your product mix is customers ordering the build your own pizza. That’s a good indication that your pickiest customers are going online and ordering through this channel. Maybe you want to think about really putting that at the top of the menu rather than kind of buried below the chef’s favorites.’ That’s a silly example, but it’s something that gives you a sense of looking at how the power users are using our product and then trying to think about how are we going to attract other power users to use this product. Because if they’re doing it through digital ordering and they can save this build your own pizza as one of their own favorites, they’ve kind of created that chef inspired pizza, the custom-built order.

Andrew Weinreich: And they wouldn’t be gathering that data by interpreting their own PoS data?

Noah Glass: Well, what would they can’t see is that it’s the same customers coming back and ordering the same thing again and again once they’ve saved it onto their account as a favorite. And in fact, the consumer experience is different because I have to walk back into that same restaurant and tell them again how I like my pizza. When I can do the build your own pizza online or through my app and I can save it. It’s just a click of a button to reorder the pizza exactly the way that I like it.

Jeremy Levy: Meaning that they have sort of the aggregate level statistics or information because of their point of sale, but there’s no personalization aspect because from an ongoing user experience perspective, I can’t go and say, Jeremy likes, you know, the pizza with pepperoni and onions.

Andrew Weinreich: But you could uniquely identify Jeremy by his credit card, if someone used the same credit card over and over again. Right? I mean I think it would be proxies for it.

Noah Glass: Yeah. I haven’t seen a lot of restaurants doing that. I do think there are ways to do it with a reasonable level of accuracy, but I haven’t seen a lot of restaurants doing that.

Jeremy Levy: Maybe we could even zoom up even a little bit further at that point then. Looking across all the pizza restaurants that you have, or even looking further up across all the restaurants that you sit on top of, are you able to look at that data and see trends across the entire space?

Noah Glass: Sure. I mean one of the most fascinating and probably obvious trends, is that people are eating healthier food in the earlier half of the week and unhealthy food towards the back half of the week. And in fact, that same pattern follows the calendar as well. So, the first half of the year more salads and healthy foods, the back half the year.

“…people are eating healthier food in the earlier half of the week and unhealthy food towards the back half of the week.”

Jeremy Levy: Gearing up for summer.

Noah Glass: Cheeseburger, pizza, barbecue, et cetera. But the really fascinating thing is to see how consumers are using two sort of the elements of our user experience. One is saving orders as favorites, and the other is ordering from your order history. So, on the healthy items, people like to save those as favorites. I’m going to eat this again, I’m going to save as a favorite. Jeremy’s Pizza is probably the healthy pizza. Then they like to use the order history to reorder the thing that they ordered one time and told themselves, I’m never going to get this again. But they actually crave it the end of the week, or the end of the year. So, they want to go back and they want to order the same thing. And I think there’s a psychological thing in there where, I don’t want to acknowledge that I’m ever going to get the unhealthy thing again. It’s just a one-timer. But the convenience of going back into my order history and clicking once to reorder it is great, because I actually do wind up wanting the same thing.

Andrew Weinreich: After the break, we ask Noah how to make the perfect pizza shop. Stay tuned.


Andrew Weinreich: Welcome back to Deciding by Data. Noah Glass is the CEO of Olo, a B2B platform that powers on demand ordering from restaurants like sweetgreen and Chipotle.

With data on 200 restaurant brands across 40,000 locations, we wanted to know: could Olo build the perfect restaurant?

Andrew Weinreich: Jeremy and I want to start a pizza restaurant, can you tell us what we should put on the menu, so we know empirically we’re going to be delivering exactly what people want?

Noah Glass: I don’t know that Olo could tell you that based on our data agreements, but we certainly have that data down to the DMA or the ZIP code that you’re opening that pizza restaurant in.

Andrew Weinreich: There’s a legal question of whether you could share that.

Noah Glass:  But do we have the data? Yes.

Andrew Weinreich: Do you think you could construct the perfect menu?

Noah Glass: Absolutely. And I think this is not just a thought experiment. I think that this is maybe the next chapter in what’s going to happen in food delivery. And you’re starting to see restaurants opening up that are called ghost kitchens. It’s just a kitchen, there’s no dining room. All of their food is delivered.

Andrew Weinreich: This is the Maple experiment.

Noah Glass: This is the Maple experiment, but this is informed by data Maple. So, this is, I’m a restaurant delivery marketplace. I’ve gathered all this data. I’m now going to create the top 20 items for this ZIP code based on what I’ve seen people ordering from all the restaurants on my marketplace. And because I don’t have the same cost base for creating it, I don’t have to have, A) prime real estate, I don’t need it to have the same dining room in terms of square footage, now I can do it for a lot cheaper.

Andrew Weinreich: But you don’t mean marketplace in that context, right? Because what you’re saying is, you don’t have the right to aggregate that data and share to new entrants what to provide. So, you’re talking about an individual restaurant on the basis of just their data?

Noah Glass: I’m talking about a restaurant delivery marketplace that today is GrubHub or somebody else saying, I’m going to go and create a competitive entity, that’s going to be a kitchen that prepares delivery food in this market based on everything that I know-

Andrew Weinreich: But I’m struggling to understand that. If GrubHub did that, wouldn’t all of their customers revolt, or no?

Noah Glass: There are already examples of restaurant delivery marketplaces that are doing this. And, I think everybody in the restaurant industry kind of, is aware that this could happen… So I’ll give you examples in Europe. There is a company, Deliveroo, that is creating these ghost kitchens. And in their world, they’re just, sort of WeWork for food delivery. So, they’re renting out kitchen space-

Andrew Weinreich: And they also provide a Seamless aggregator role?

Noah Glass: Yes, they do. Now, it’s not them creating their own concept and running their own concept, but I believe that’s starting to happen in the United States with a couple of restaurant delivery providers, who are in fact competing directly against the restaurants that are on their marketplace.

Andrew Weinreich: Do you think you would ever create a ghost kitchen?

Noah Glass: It wouldn’t be in Olo’s interest to do that because we’re not a marketplace ourselves. We don’t have the place where the consumer is going to place the order. We couldn’t, therefore, undercut the restaurants that are working on our platform.

Andrew Weinreich: Unless you believe the biggest value is in having this goldmine of a menu.

Jeremy Levy: I think what Andrew means is you could set up a brand that does not exist, and given the fact that you know exactly what people want, where they want it, and when they want it, you could create your own ghost kitchen and essentially have a brand-

Noah Glass: Well, I think what you’re getting at is that there is a ton of data that is being aggregated. And yes, it’s passive voice. We’re aggregating it. There are also delivery marketplaces that are aggregating it, and there’s a lot that you can do with that. Seeing all the data that you can see across tens of millions of consumers, and hundreds of millions of transactions. And I don’t think that’s Olo’s place and we would never do that based on the role that we play in the ecosystem, but somebody is going to do that.

Andrew Weinreich: This is sort of next stage artificial intelligence coupled with big data that’s going to inform what ghost kitchens-

Noah Glass: When you guys start your pizza restaurant, this is what you’re going to do with all of your data science and artificial intelligence.

Jeremy Levy: The on-demand economy is not just changing how restaurants operate. Grocery stores too have had to adapt to changing consumer habits.

Andrew Weinreich: Between 2006 and 2015, foodservice at retail grew at an annual rate of 10.4 percent, according to research firm Technomic. This is much faster than traditional restaurants, which grew at an annual rate of 2.1 percent over the same period.

That’s why Amazon made waves this summer when it announced its acquisition of Whole Foods, the grocery chain known for its high prices and fairly-sourced products.

Jeremy Levy: But with all of the innovative foodservice companies out there, why did Amazon target Whole Foods for the acquisition?

Andrew Weinreich: You’re Jeff Bezos, Blue Sky, and you’re thinking about how to massively move into the food space. Why is Whole Foods your target and not Blue Apron, or McDonald’s given the data you just gave us?

Noah Glass: So, you asked earlier about ghost kitchens and one way of looking at Whole Foods is it would be a great place to build ghost kitchens. You have all of the ingredients right there, you have kitchens inside of Whole Foods that are creating prepared meals, and they’re all in this very kind of high-end DMAs. It could be a great place to launch a delivery service if you were so inclined.

Andrew Weinreich: And do you think that, that really is the purpose of acquiring Whole Foods, it’s this ghost kitchen, this meal kit extension as the centerpiece of their food platform? Is that the vision?

Noah Glass: I’m not in any way saying that grocery is dead at all. I mean grocery still make $800 billion industry. There is a lot of value in grocery and a high performer like Whole Foods as is. I think there’s another really interesting opportunity in preparing food and getting it to consumers in the most convenient way possible and then stripping out a lot of the inefficiencies of sit-down restaurants that exist today.

Andrew Weinreich: What do supermarkets look like, if we fast forward 10, 20 years? You’re saying because of companies like yours, more and more restaurants have the ability to deliver without massive technology investments. And we’re going to see this accelerating trend of more and more people have delivery, as their principal way of eating. So, take us forward 10, 20 years and talk to us about what that looks like for supermarkets, what that looks like for which restaurants are going to survive, which ones are going to fail.

Noah Glass: So, I think you’re already see grocery supermarkets in the grocery segment looking more like the restaurant segment and that’s in prepared foods. That’s in, it’s not just ingredients that you come and pick up. It’s there are restaurants inside of grocery locations, and people will go and they’ll eat there, or they’ll get a prepared meal there and they’ll take it home with them. I think you’ll see more, and more, and more of that. By no means am I an expert in the grocery space, but I observe that, and I observe restaurants saying, we’re now facing competition from grocery and from convenience store that we never had to face in the past. It’s, flattery is the greatest compliment, but it’s potentially going to eat away from our market share of prepared food, if grocery and C-Store wake up to the opportunity in prepared food.

Andrew Weinreich: Will Olo have as your clients groceries and convenience stores as well?

Noah Glass: Sure. We’ve started to do a couple of experiments in both of those spaces just to test the waters. And yes, consumers want to be able to order ahead, pay ahead, and have it ready when they get there, or get something delivered to them same hour.

Andrew Weinreich: So, just to be clear this trend towards delivery is actually not a good one for restaurants, because instead of it representing more business, what it’s representing is more competition from nontraditional players, supermarkets and convenience stores. Is that right?

Noah Glass: I think the trend towards off-premise consumption is a good thing for restaurants, and that’s where you see the restaurant industry growing, and the traditional grocery industry shrinking. I think that the trend towards delivery is potentially not a great thing for restaurants, really because of the cost of delivery and the fact that their profits are getting squeezed out. But that’s separate from the new competition.

Andrew Weinreich: And they may be spending money on retail space that is unnecessary-

Noah Glass: That’s right. So you actually have restaurant chains now shutting down the dining rooms and locations, and saying this location is no longer a location where you can come and sit down. We’re just going to do takeout and delivery from this location, effectively turning themselves into ghost kitchens before it can happen to them.

Andrew Weinreich: If you’re staying with Olo for 10 years, or 20 years, take us to where what you are doing, how that is reflective of some of the trends you’re talking about.

Noah Glass: Yeah look, so I think we’re in over 50 percent of the public restaurant brands that are engaged in digital ordering and delivery now. We have a lot of white space to grow the other 50 percent. We have a lot of white space to go into the smaller restaurant brands that we don’t typically work with. I mentioned we tend to work with chains that have 40 locations or more. There are a lot of great restaurants that have fewer than 40 units. We’d love to work with them too. I think that’s a big part of our future. I also mentioned that we’ve run experiments in other retail verticals. Grocery, and C-Store, and elsewhere. And every time that we get any kind of press which is sort of rare for a B2B company — B2C companies get all the press and have all the fun — when we get press, when we announce something like a partnership with Amazon Restaurants which we did last September, we have retailers from all sorts of different segments, jewelry stores, toys stores. And they’re writing to us to say, if I understand what your technology does correctly, you let me list my inventory in a device the consumer has in their hands, and lets them order and pay so that I can then receive it on my production system and prep it for them, and have it ready when they arrive, or get it to them delivered same hour. That’s what I need to compete against pure-play e-commerce competition. Can you help me?

Andrew Weinreich: For now, the answer to this question has been no — Olo is focusing in on restaurants with multiple locations. But in the next 10 years, he envisions that focus expanding to different markets.

Noah Glass: We’ve run an experiment in the medical marijuana space. Incredibly successful. Some of, no pun intended, the highest same-store sales that we’ve ever seen. And it’s an interesting new retail vertical. But one in which consumers want to be able to put in their order ahead of time, and have it ready waiting for them when they arrive, and not have the experience of going in waiting in line and waiting for a long time for an order to be filled. Any time when you can cut out friction from the commercial transaction, I think that is a great opportunity for our business.

“We’ve run an experiment in the medical marijuana space. Incredibly successful. Some of, no pun intended, the highest same-store sales that we’ve ever seen.”

Jeremy Levy: For Noah, saving people time so they can spend it where it matters is a family business.

Noah Glass: My mom’s second cookbook is called, Rescuing the Dinner Hour. And in many ways I think she looks at what I’m doing and thinks, okay while I was rescuing the dinner hour back in the late nineties, what Noah is now doing in a[n] even more time-starved world, is helping to rescue the time on tradition of the dinner hour for a family that’s not preparing a meal in 30 minutes, but is picking up a meal and then bringing it home and all eating together. And that’s a little bit of the continuity.