Hungry? If you grab a bite to eat from the likes of Hell Pizza, Esquires Coffee, Muffin Break or Habitual Fix – and you use your phone to order – you’re using Mobi2Go’s software-as-a-service platform to do so.
Mobi2Go, headed up by director Tarik Mallett, is a story of evolution, one that ends in the present day with a company processing millions of dollars each month in revenue for clients, having processed more than 2.5 million orders for hungry people.
The company started out in mobile marketing for small businesses such as bars and restaurants, all the way up to big corporates such as Meridian and Foodstuffs, but bigger things were afoot.
“We quickly learnt that we had aspirations of building a global business,” Mallett says. “With the reliance on the telcos for SMS, this was going to be a long, hard road.”
Mallett’s customers in hospitality wanted online and mobile ordering for their customers, but for the smaller companies, it would come at considerable cost and effort to build it themselves. After a few turns away from mobile marketing, as well as a huge amount of market research here and abroad, Mallett and co decided there was a gap in the market for what would become the Mobi2Go platform.
Customers now pay a fixed monthly fee depending on the size of their business and the features they want.
“Being self-service, a business can sign up for a free trial, evaluate the fit for their business, load menus and integrate with their website at a time and location that works for their schedule. They’re able to manage the design of their store themselves, or allow their web developers to geek out on the raw CSS.”
Mobi2Go identified early on that many single-store clients didn’t even have a website, presenting another hurdle and cost to the process. So it’s a natural part of the evolution story that the company now provides websites and hosting at no additional cost for clients who need one.
Now the company is up to what Mallett describes as “an A Team” of seven staff working on everything from development to marketing and sales.
“We’re looking to increase head count significantly this year as we ramp-up awareness and scale Mobi2Go internationally. We’ve resisted the allure of outsourcing development overseas and this has been critical to the robustness of our product, ability to redact and implement changes and helps to instill a great team culture. Friday ‘show and tells’ and daily table tennis wars just wouldn’t be the same over Skype.”
It’s far from a limited market for Mobi2Go in the global economy. Mallett decided early on that to be a global business, customers would need to be able to sign up no matter where they were in the world. It meant a number of infrastructure and development considerations, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome.
Eighteen months down the track, the majority of clients are now based outside New Zealand: in the UK, Canada, China, Ireland and Australia.
Habitual Fix and Hell Pizza jumped on from the start, something Mallett says was crucial for the business to be able to hit the ground running. It also forced them to deal with issues around scalability and reliability that might not have been fixed so quickly otherwise.
Mallett had followed the Hell Pizza journey since his days at Victoria University, when he would eat pizza at the original Hell store in Kelburn.
“I’d always wanted to meet [founders] Stu [McMullin] and Callum [Davies] as I respected them as business operators and for the brand they’d developed. One day I flicked Stu an email to see if he would be keen to catch-up. A couple of weeks later we grabbed a coffee at Fidels on Cuba Street and had a great chat about the early days at Hell and his experience in business.”
Mallett shared his vision for Mobi2Go and “plans for world domination”.
“A couple of weeks later, out of the blue the operations manager from Hell made contact and said they were looking at making some changes to their website and underlying technology and it sounded like we might help them achieve this.”
It’s a simple story of going after what you want and it’s an approach Mallett strongly advocates.
“I’m a great believer that if you want something you have to go out and get it, and often going straight to the top is the best approach. If we’re looking to get a meeting with a client, often I’ll ring the CEO directly. I’ve found more often than not, if you’re offering something of value to their business and aren’t wasting their time, they’ll happily direct you to the best person to meet with. Having a referral from the CEO goes a long way and saves a lot of time trying to identify the correct person and having to work your way up from the bottom of an organisation.”
To date, Mobi2Go hasn’t taken on any outside funding, although this is being constantly assessed. There’s also the idea of having a formal board, something many small businesses do early on.
“I see a lot of companies that set these up in the early days because they’re told they should, and they end up creating a huge distraction for themselves when they should be focusing on the business, and often get the wrong people involved.
“In the early stages I think having a group of informal mentors and advisors you can sit with over a coffee is of much greater benefit and use of time. Not having outside investment also reduces the pressure of formalising these structures.”