“I know what it feels like on your first day of business to realize that your payroll is three times more than your sales—it's a pretty scary thing.”
This statement didn’t come from your average American business owner balancing entrepreneurial passion with the grinding reality of running a business. It came from Doron Friedman, Chief Innovation Officer, and Co-Founder at SpotOn.
Doron can empathize with the struggles business owners face because he is a business owner himself who opened his first café when he was 21 years old. That original café is not only still thriving today, serving customers delicatessen delights, but also pulling double duty as a SpotOn innovation test kitchen of sorts.
After graduating from The Wharton School as a young man, Doron decided he didn’t want to go into the Investment Banking business so much as he wanted to go into the restaurant business—a decision inspired by his father.
“My parents are Holocaust survivors. When they escaped to Israel, my dad had to work three jobs in order to support the family. Eventually, he opened up his own factory,” Doron recalls. “When I was nine years old, we went back to Israel for a trip and found a man waiting for my father on the front step of his apartment. He’d been there for two days, waiting to ask my father to be the guest of honor at his child’s Bar Mitzvah. It turned out that he was one of my dad’s former employees. That moment taught me the power and responsibility of entrepreneurship, and it planted the seeds for who I wanted to become.”
Inspired by his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, Doron used his life savings to open his first of three cafés.
“As a business owner, sometimes you’re working 15 to 16 hours a day. There’s this risk that you get stuck in the weeds and you can't see the big picture. If you want to succeed, you have to find your pain points and delegate those responsibilities to someone who has more time and expertise to handle the problems.”
Doron’s mission in co-founding SpotOn is to be that someone. He works diligently with his team of product experts and engineers to be a partner to business owners when it comes to managing their online ordering, ecommerce, website and marketing, loyalty, appointments and reservation booking, payment processing, and so much more. In short, he sees SpotOn as the innovation partner that every business owner needs and deserves.
“In my role at SpotOn, I get to take my experiences as a business owner and use them as a lens for developing products that can help other business owners succeed. Thinking about the way you fulfill orders, the way you do your lines, the way you do your labor planning,” he adds, “that stuff is not abstract to me. So I’m able to help innovate more creative and concrete solutions that solve the specific problems business owners are facing.”
You look at any business on Main Street America and there’s the business owner and their family, their employees and their families, the suppliers and their families. . .their livelihoods are all entwined.
With the added complications that the COVID-19 pandemic has layered onto business owners, Doron feels a heightened sense of camaraderie, empathy, and pride in his fellow entrepreneurs—and an intensified responsibility as a chief product officer. Businesses sit at the heart of their communities, not just because of the shared experiences they offer people, but because of the economic opportunity.
“You look at any business on Main Street America and there’s the business owner and their family, their employees and their families, the suppliers and their families. . .their livelihoods are all entwined," he explains. "When the sales at my bagel café went down by 40 – 50% at the height of Covid, I knew the impact reached far beyond me. And so I knew SpotOn had to innovate faster to support these business owners, who support so many others.”
In the last 18 months, SpotOn has introduced the first reservation feature enabling restaurants to maintain compliance by allowing guests to confirm vaccination status, teamed up with Order with Google for a seamless food ordering experience without third-party apps, introduced SpotOn Sidekick to power food trucks and SpotOn Retail to help independent retailers compete with big-box retailers, and offered small business owners a supplemental funding option to SBA Revitalization Funds via SpotOn Capital.
“I’m humbled by our team and I’m humbled by the resiliency of the American entrepreneur,” Doron says. “It’s amazing how hard they are willing to work, and how they are not giving up. I’m right there alongside them, and so is SpotOn.”