David Dittenber is Co-founder of BYOD — Bring Your Own Data. The company creates easy-to-use digital tools to improve operations and enhance customer experience. David is a longtime restaurant operator whose mission has been to leverage technology to address common problems with everyday operations in the restaurant industry. With BYOD, he has come up with an answer to restaurant systems that don’t work together effectively and haven’t yet utilized rapidly-increasing advances in technology.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- David Dittenber’s answer to the timeless question of “what do you do?”
- How being raised in a small town shaped David’s view of entrepreneurship
- Why BYOD’s virtual assistant is named Mabel
- David describes an instance where Mabel could help a restaurant manager in real time
- How David sells BYOD to potential customers
- Why BYOD tries to adapt to restaurant operations rather than asking restaurant operators to adapt to BYOD
- What obstacles has David had to overcome with his startup?
In this episode…
Entrepreneurs are considered an important facet of the economy because of the role they play in stimulating growth by taking risks on innovative ideas. Often, they see a problem and find a way to solve it through innovation.
That’s exactly what David Dittenber did when he founded BYOD — Bring Your Own Data — to help restaurateurs process and use information. BYOD has a virtual assistant called Mabel which takes data from an individual restaurant’s operations software, reservation software and point of sale, and delivers it to managers in real time. It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence in a practical way to help restaurants save money by ensuring that things don’t fall through the cracks.
On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Bela Musits chats with David Dittenber, Co-founder of BYOD, who tells people he is an entrepreneur when they ask what he does. He shares how his years of experience in restaurant operations led him to his latest entrepreneurial endeavor — a virtual assistant for restaurant managers. David talks about how BYOD works, the problems it solves, the challenges associated with launching it, and how he came to appreciate entrepreneurship growing up in a small town.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Bela Musits 0:20
Hello, listeners. I’m Bela Musits and the host for this SpotOn podcast episode, where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail. And they have a flagship solution called spot on restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all into one. They have served everyone from large chains like Dairy Queen and subway, to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com. This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses get return on investment clients, referrals and strategic partnerships to custom done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business, and wants to build a great relationship with clients, referral partners, and thought leaders in your space, there’s no better way to do it, than through podcast and content marketing. To learn more, go to Rise25.com or email us at support@Rise25.com. Today’s guest on the podcast is David Dittenber. David is a longtime restaurant operator, who together with his partner founded BYOD, which stands for bring your own data, they create easy to use digital tools to improve operations and enhance customer experience. Welcome to the podcast, David. Thanks for having me, Bela. Sure. So you have a long very background, you’ve done a lot of different things. So my first question for you is if you’re at a social event, a non work related social event, and you get introduced to someone. And after that introduction, they say to you, Oh, very nice to meet you, David, what do you do? How do you answer that question?
David Dittenber 2:22
You know, that’s a great question. And I I’ll tell you, from my years of, of operator restaurant experience, I usually get introduced as, as a restaurant tour that’s now an entrepreneur, right. And so I My background is mostly like I said, operations. I started in a in a dish pit and in a little restaurant in a town called Andre Michigan when I was 12 years old, right? So I’m still a, an operator by heart. But I think that, you know, my parents and the family, they were all entrepreneurs and had their own business. So I always had a little bit of that entrepreneurial blood in my veins also. So I would Yeah, operator, but but entrepreneur, I guess would be the short answer. But you know that I think that can go in different directions based on who the audience is.
Bela Musits 3:11
Yeah. So So were you one of those kids with with entrepreneurship, sort of in your family? Did you work in the family businesses? Or, you know, did you have a newspaper route and mow lawns and do that kind of stuff?
David Dittenber 3:23
Yeah, I started, I tell people that I started, I think I was born with a shovel in my hand, right? Like my family were all they were mostly farmers, and, you know, did a lot of outside work, you know, and so then my mom was a seamstress. My dad was a truck driver. So, you know, pretty common, you know, all American kind of family, right. And so, most of the family, they were either in the farm, so we do a lot of stuff that would revolve around that type of work. But I’d work in my mom’s business, she’d have us, myself and my brother trucking around things in the summer, you know, dragging her stuff around. But that led me to kind of working with some of the entrepreneurs in this small town, right, the people that were, you know, the restaurant tours, or had that type of kind of graduated from, you know, family business into that next kind of, I don’t know, you know, that next job, if you will, and that, I think, kind of inspired me being around those people that, you know, that was their life, right. They got something they worked hard, they, they, you know, they went to the shop, they went to the grocery store, they counted the money, and they were mowing the lawn right. And so, you know, I always had that kind of small business bug from, you know, early and then into kind of my early influencers of work.
Bela Musits 4:42
So, yeah, you know, those, those little small rural towns, I think, are really great from an entrepreneurship perspective, because they’re not, they’re not company towns. There is no one big employer that everybody goes to work for. So if you’re gonna hang around you, you sort of ended up starting your own business or working in a small business and learning about all those aspects of it. So I think it’s a great place to kind of get that type of experience and sounds like that’s what you got.
David Dittenber 5:10
Yeah, 100% I think, you know, I was with a couple of mentors of mine that we have breakfast with everyone one’s a healthcare administrator. And one is, he started a construction company. And, you know, they, we talk a lot about it, you know, I was just initially reaching out to them to talk a little bit about how can I grow professionally? And how can I do things, and come to find out, they grew up in very similar backgrounds, one room schoolhouses, and, you know, I think my graduating class was 23 people. And, um, you know, it’s just interesting to see that, you know, those that small town mentality, and again, a lot of it has to do with the work ethic and things like that, you just don’t know any different, right? Like, it’s not like we grew up with anything other than, hey, this is what we’re going to do. So it was just interesting to hear, you know, even people that are now in their 80s. You know, that’s a similar experience, where I thought that this was, I thought growing up that coming from a small town was almost a disadvantage. Right? You know, that it was very difficult. But the reality is, I think some of those work ethics and things that come out of that background and the smaller settings, I think you’re right, it gives you a little bit more exposure to things that maybe you wouldn’t get in a in a more populated area.
Bela Musits 6:16
Yeah, yeah, for sure. So tell us a little bit about BYOD.
David Dittenber 6:17
Yeah. BYOD. It’s so a virtual restaurant assistant. Her name is Mabel, Mabel is kind of the the delivery person, if you will, and she’s based off a longtime manager that worked for me, her name was rose. And kind of the we call Mabel, the person that makes sure that things don’t fall through the cracks. So, so the idea is, is you know, the that we have so many different, you know, I remember being in restaurants in, you know, in the mid 90s, where point of sale were just starting to be introduced. And that was going to be the saving grace, right of that, that digital evolution going from tickets to digital. Fast forward 20 some odd years or 30 years. And now all of a sudden, we had 30 different, you know, platforms at one point between payment and operations. And the reality was, they were all disparaging, right, so BYOD, the idea was, bring your own data, each restaurant, footprint has its own, you know, operations software, reservation software point of sale, we wanted the owner to be able to bring that data in and then be able to use it, well, we do a little bit differently, versus, you know, we’re kind of an anti dashboard company, if you will. So the way that the data comes into BYOD, and then Mabel delivers it to the managers in real time. So we’re not waiting till that p&l meeting at the, you know, the next month or six weeks later, we’re trying to make those decisions and operations as they happen eventually, versus kind of letting them stack up. So the theory is, is that, you know, you save time you save money by having things that don’t fall through the cracks and are dealt with in the moment. And that’s kind of that whole, you know, utilization of machine learning and artificial intelligence in a practical way to be able to do some of those things.
Bela Musits 8:18
Yeah. Can you give an example of one of those instances?
David Dittenber 8:22
Yeah, for sure. So, so, you have a schedule, right? You know, everybody I grew up, and I’ve seen restaurants that go anywhere between a fancy scheduling program to it been written on the back of one of those napkins, you know, are placeholders, you know, the the schedule comes up, you’ve got the shift happening, let’s say it starts to snow and rain and sleet. And the business isn’t what it’s supposed to do. You know, if the manager keeps on a full staff, when it’s not needed, right in our keeps them through the end. You know, that’s a problem, right? You’re gonna run high labor costs. So what Mabel would do is she would take that schedule, she’d compare it towards what’s happening in the business, she’d send an alert to the manager to say, hey, you know, server bail is not busy bail, it can go home, right. And so that then keeps the operations going. Everything happens real time in the moment. Another example would be like a health related concern, romaine lettuce gets recalled by the FDA. You know, we get a lot of those communications, whether it be through email or you know, alert from our food company, but if that’s an email box someplace, and somebody does that, so what happens is, we have we have Mabel actually reading the emails and things like that, that would come in and send a lot a message immediately to the manager to say, Take Romaine take Caesar salads off the menu, the menu, right because we just had a product recall. So you know, not just you know, operational savings, but all you know, operational concerns that would go on via a manager kind of in the moment, right? Same kind of thing with reviews and that kind of thing.
Bela Musits 10:07
Wow. Wow. Excellent. So, talk a little bit about, let’s say I run a restaurant, I run a small and we do breakfast and lunch. Yep. And, you know, I have, I’m the cook, my wife, my wife, you know, works behind the counter. And we have a couple of waitstaff and some other food prep people in the back. How do I enter you know, so I’m interested in this, tell me what it takes for me to roll this into my restaurant, what’s involved?
David Dittenber 10:38
Sure. And that was one of the things coming from operations, I’ve had so many tools that were pushed, you know, from top down right now, just the deriving technology, but didn’t really, you know, working with people in the trenches, so I want something that would have been easy to adopt, and easy to integrate. So we actually can integrate with anything that the restaurant has in place, right, we also do some things with video cameras, right. So you know, your video cameras, your already existing hardware, we built it in a way that the data streams are just coming into, into BYOD agnostically, right. So it doesn’t mean that you have to comply with any change over and you know, that kind of thing in order to get it to work, you know, the the machine learning piece of it. The more data that Mabel gets over time, the better she’ll get at predicting things about your restaurant. But you know, that that really is, is the only thing that kind of develops over time, you’re right that the rest of it is immediate, it’s very quick to install, essentially, we plug into the point of sale, we either plug into the initial scan, or the scheduling application or whatever that you have right now. And you’re off to the races, seeing kind of immediate results and immediate alerting, you know, within hours of inception of the program.
Bela Musits 12:06
Wow, wow. And so what’s sort of the, I imagine with, you know, with a lot of products, there’s sort of a sweet spot from from a size perspective, right, um, these restaurants are a little too small, these operations are a little too big, or they already have some sophisticated systems that they’re using. So you’re not going to displace that, what’s sort of the sweet spot for you guys?
David Dittenber 12:29
sure that the we our ideal customers, kind of what we refer to as mid market or enterprise. So that’s where, you know, most of the scalability in a lot of them are the same technology. Foundations, right, so it’s easy to just kind of go from one to the next. So that equates to a restaurant, that’s, you know, $2 million in, in up and receipts, as well as, you know, a group that is anywhere between five and 50. Right, but we’ve been doing a lot more on the enterprise side, just because of the conglomeration, right, there’s a lot more groups out there, you know, buying multi unit franchisees or so we’ve had to adjust that. And that’s really what we’ve been doing over the last six months is really making sure that we have a scalable model for big operations, right that, you know, 100 to 500 or more, right, so that that’s where, you know, and again, if you look at kind of the alignment of the industry, you know, a quarter point of $500 million in sales is a big deal, if you can go in there and save that versus a quarter point of that Mom and Pop restaurant, right. And again, growing up and, you know, growing up in that independent environment, this would be a, you know, it’s a tougher sell, to sell to kind of that old school operator, and I would still consider myself an old school operator. But you know, we’ve talked so much about technology and all these other platforms like third party and so forth, I believe for the success of the independent also, they need to see past, you know, kind of the way we’ve always done things and look into how technology can help them be more profitable and more efficient. So I don’t ever want to say I wouldn’t want to do that, because that’s truly where I grew, you know, kind of grew my roots, if you will, but it’s definitely a harder sell in that onesie. twosie market just for the reasons that you kind of talked about, right? Sure. I think the other thing that you have to have Baylor’s you have to have somebody that’s a little bit more digital digital forward, you know, companies like spot on are great to work with are great to integrate with and they’re truly, in my opinion, you know, going out and creating products that allow the owners to you know, have more access to their data and allow them to use it right. So they’re an integration partner with us and I love kind of those forward thinking people that can also but you know, what’s interesting is those same independents that didn’t want to change Over two things like cloud based point of sale, you see that starting to happen. So we know that even in those instances, if they’re a little lagging with regard to adoption, they’ll ultimately get there. Because we see that technology upgrade on that side, which is a great thing for the industry, especially for the independent. My opinion.