Ever had to wait in line for your morning caffeine fix, or for your lunchtime sandwich? Thought about how useful it would be to cut that wasted time out of your day? Of course you have, and so has Ordoo (previously known as Ordable).

Ordoo offers a new way to order drinks and food from local cafes and coffee shops: the app enables you to browse menus, order and pay, and earn loyalty points too. We caught up with CEO and co-founder Tom Dewhurst to find out more about Ordoo and the future of the app…

Face shot - profile pic - fiver copy

In technicolour: Tom’s the Wizard of Ord(oo)

TechSPARK: What is Ordoo? 

Tom: Ordoo saves you valuable time every day. We’ve built a digital gateway for you to order and pay in advance at local cafes and coffee shops – beating your daily queue and earning loyalty rewards.

You can browse the menu of your favourite outlets when at your desk, on the move or in the comfort of your own home. Once you’ve made up your mind, place your order, complete the payment and swing past and pick it up when you get the notification to say it’s ready (and then enjoy!). Ordoo will also reward you regularly for your loyalty.

Rich-Swift-Ordable-pic-b-850x600

Coffee on app: Pay now, pick up when it’s ready

TS: Why did you set up Ordoo and what’s your background?

Tom: In my opinion, setting up your own company is an awesome adventure that offers exciting challenges every day. I was in a cafe at the University of Bath and wanted a piece of cake after I had finished my lunch, but the queue was way too long and I couldn’t be bothered to queue up! I thought if only there was a way to send the staff an order using my smartphone.

“My vision is that Ordoo will be the mobile interface for every cafe or coffee shop”

 

It didn’t take me long to figure out that if this was possible then we could get rid of paper menus and loyalty cards all together! My vision is that Ordoo will be the mobile interface for every cafe or coffee shop, with a menu board above the counter. Having a mobile ordering channel is essential for these types of businesses – Ordoo offers the benefits, but without the risk.

At university, I studied Business Administration and I’ve also worked for a bit at Accenture and Vodafone. University was a great place to bounce innovative ideas off some really clever and forward-thinking people. I also met my co-founder Ray there and we built the first version of the app together.

TS: What have been your main successes so far?

Tom: I count the fact that we are still going strong and moving forward as a success. This has largely been down to receiving some seed funding from our angel investor Nick Robinson. I would say I am very lucky to have Nick as an investor and mentor, the fact that he believes in us and puts money behind the team and idea is incredible.

Ordoo received additional investment from Simpleweb, a Bristol-based technology development agency, who have taken on the build of our minimum viable product (MVP). Together we are building a fantastic product with great potential. We have conducted a couple of market and prototype tests, which have revealed some encouraging feedback and insights. With some enthusiastic coffee shops already signed up – we remain highly optimistic.

We also won some additional seed funding in the Dragons’ Den competition at the University of Bath. This was a great experience and kicked us into gear to pull together a solid business plan and financial forecasts.

Uni presentation 3

Dragons love cafes: Investors from Enterprise Bath’s Dragons’ Den
were impressed by the team’s pitch at university

 

TS: Could you tell us more about the recent partnership with Simpleweb?

Tom: Working with Simpleweb has been amazing. The team fully grasped the concept and vision, and have been instrumental in the product development and design. As we’ve moved along the development schedule, the project has only gone from strength to strength and I am confident the MVP [minimum viable product] will work exceptionally well in its intended commercial environment. I can’t wait to get it set up in cafes and coffee shops and see people using the app.

TS: When you launched the app in the Engine Shed what was the response like?

Tom: In a word, underwhelming. When we launched our first version in April we thought we had cracked the problem of ordering from tables in restaurants. However, in true startup lean fashion, we were using an ineffective (and problematic) communication system between the apps.

These issues, coupled with the unreliability of iBeacons in our critical user flow, made for some obvious pivots in our product strategy. However, we received some extremely valuable feedback and have now shifted to target cafes and coffee shops with a focus on order ahead and loyalty rewards functionality.

Engine Shed Launch

Leaving the station: Ordoo’s initial launch at the Engine Shed

Now Simpleweb is on the case, and with positive test results, I am confident the MVP will have a significant impact on the local market.

TS: You’ve received support from various organisations, can you let us know how they have helped?

Tom: I don’t know where we would be without the support of our fantastic network. Ordoo is currently based in the University of Bath Innovation Centre as part of the SETsquared partnership. The business support is great, I have weekly meetings with Rosie Bennett (who’s a wonderful mentor) and there are so many experienced business people there who are willing to offer advice and just want to help out. This is aside from the extensive investor network the centre has.

TS: Have other tech companies in the Bristol and Bath impressed you?

Tom: I am lucky enough to meet new tech companies every week at the Innovation Centre. I regularly attend the networking events on offer and it’s fantastic to hear what some people are up to.

I’ve been following the growth of Move GB very closely; they offer an innovative solution to staying active with one membership that works across many gyms, studios and classes. Having found their product market first in Bath, they rapidly proceeded to expand across the country. This is a roll-out plan that would be awesome to copy. They are also based in the Innovation Centre and I’ve learnt a lot about the strategy of operating and marketing a marketplace model from Alister Rollins, their CEO.

BPC pic

The original Ordoo team: Ray, Tom & Nad

I’ve been working alongside a number of other innovative companies that have been integral to Ordoo’s development. To name a few – Simpleweb, Blispa, Memberoo, EZ Education, LifeJak, Intro and YENA. Realistically it’s all about the people in these organisations.

TS: Is Bristol and Bath a good place to set up a tech startup?

Tom: I love starting a company in Bath. Over the years I have built my network in the area and I’ve found so many experienced, helpful and insightful people. Since there are tight-knit clusters of technology-driven and innovative people, it is easy to find the right people in this community.

“I’ve found many of the small businesses here are very forward thinking and are happy to adopt new technologies”

 

Being a local makes this process much easier. I’ve found many of the small businesses here are very forward thinking and are happy to adopt new technologies.

It also helps that the coffee shops are some of the best in the country. One of the perks of the job is visiting loads of coffee shops and seeing what they have to offer.

We do have our sights on a rapid expansion. The plan is to learn from our Bath launch and then move to Bristol very quickly and tap into the fast-paced coffee market. If all goes well, we are likely to take on the London coffee shops next year as well.

TS: What’s the best piece of advice you have received when setting up your company?

Tom: On a personal level, as an entrepreneur, I regularly remind myself of some advice to keep me sane: “Balance an intense focus on work with family, friends and fitness.”

On a practical level, there are a couple of snippets of advice that I use as a benchmark to make decisions:

  1. “Constantly evaluate whether you’re good at making money or spending money”
  2. “If you’re considering pulling out of approaching a potential customer/client/partner/investor/etc …. stop making excuses and get on with it!”

TS: What’s next for Ordoo?

Tom: It’s a really exciting time for Ordoo at the moment. We’re at the final stages of our MVP development and can’t wait to get it in the hands of customers! The aim is to launch in Bath this week. New users will be getting a free drink, which they can redeem across any of our partner cafes and coffee shops in the area.

We really hope you all love the app and use Ordoo for every coffee you buy! As more and more people use the service we will be able to get more great coffee shops on board and offer more choice. If all goes to plan we are aiming to feature on the long list of successful companies emerging from the region’s thriving technology sector.

Thanks to Tom for taking the time to chat to us about Ordoo. You can learn about them more on the Ordoo website or follow them on Twitter @ordoo_uk.