Invii Profile

Invii logo.

Invii is a restaurant tech startup streamlining customer ordering, analytics, payments, and employee management. 

Founder(s): Brandon Saldan, Mustafa Mohamed

Industry: Food & Beverage

Founded in: 2021

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Interview With Brandon Saldan

Describe your product or service:

“We’re building a new way for restaurants to handle customer ordering, payment integrations, analytics, employee management, and more; all powered by the mobile technology that each restaurant customer carries in their pockets every day.”

Describe your company values and mission:

“We believe in providing an equitable opportunity for small restaurants across the country to use the same tools and technologies that larger chains have been using in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to improve customer experiences, save time, manage their businesses more efficiently, and make more money.

We’ve realized that nearly half of the entire US restaurant industry has been priced out of these solutions and has been struggling because of it — and we have the data to prove it. Invii not only focuses on solving this issue, but by moving more restaurants from paper and plastic menus, payments, and management to digital technologies, we’re improving each restaurant’s ecological footprint and moving towards more sustainable methods.”

How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.

“We’re completely bootstrapped!”

How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!

“The Invii team is made up of three incredible people. Our CEO Brandon Saldan has a background in operations management and has previously worked in government roles, venture capital, and early-stage startups. Our CTO Mustafa Mohamed has four years of experience developing enterprise software and maintaining cloud infrastructure for Fortune 500 companies, and our COO Jack LaFond has a background in cybersecurity and business administration and has four years of experience working with various startups ranging from small to large industry-leading companies like OpenSea.”

How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!

“I actually had the idea for Invii while I was working in the service industry during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. I worked at a small and local ice cream shop and realized how we had to constantly adapt to changing customer needs, but we were doing it in such an ineffective way. There was no truly streamlined solution that was fit for our small business. The methods we were using to survive during those times ultimately failed, and we had to close the store permanently. I knew that this was an all-too-common occurrence across the entire country, and the impact of these small businesses closing was huge on their communities. After our store closed, I set out to make sure that this wouldn’t happen again and I’ve been working on Invii full-time ever since with a great team.”

How did you come up with your startup’s name? Did you have other names you considered?

“Actually there’s a pretty funny story about this. We had some working names during our very early prototypes, really generic startup names like ‘Orderly.’ These were never intended to be permanent. One day, the team and I were literally just smashing random keys on our keyboards out of frustration, and Mustafa ended up typing ‘Invii.’ Something about it just kind of struck us as an abstract and meaningless yet fitting name for our company. The name has just kind of stuck ever since.”

Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

“Personally, I’ve always had an interest in the world of business and finance but never really took it seriously or considered a career in it until two years ago. I was actually set on working in computer science or IT rather than business and venture capital until COVID closed the world down. I took that opportunity to really think over my life, and once the small business I was working at closed due to numerous problems that we never had an answer for, I decided to take the leap, switch paths, and I’m incredibly grateful that I did.”

What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?

“Our biggest obstacle by far has been the size of what we’ve been creating. It’s been a really challenging experience developing these complex solutions with such a small team. We’ve definitely managed though, but not without countless sleepless nights up with the team getting work done.”

Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?

“Our target market is really small restaurants as they’re unable to afford any of the current solutions on the market. The great thing about Invii though, is that since we’re providing a lot of the same services that these larger companies are at a much cheaper price, restaurants of all sizes are able to onboard with us and achieve a lot of the same goals while saving a lot more money. We validated that our target market was correct by networking with other small restaurant owners and going over a lot of the problems they’ve been facing. Nearly all of them agreed that integrating online ordering, payments, and more modern restaurant management as a whole has been difficult due to current market pricing.”

What’s your primary marketing strategy?

“We use a combination of online and offline acquisition strategies, but our most effective by far has been directly reaching out to small restaurants and establishing close business relationships.”

How did you acquire your first 100 customers?

“Simply put, we haven’t reached 100 customers yet. We have trial agreements established with numerous restaurants in the Philadelphia market and are currently expanding to the Raleigh market.”

What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?

“MRR is obviously a big one, but the total amount of restaurants using Invii is also something we pay close attention to. We’re able to tell how many restaurants are using a certain feature we provide, and we also provide those restaurants themselves with the ability to track their own metrics through things like menu performances, what items are most and least popular at certain times, sales totals, and more.”

What’s your favorite startup book and podcast?

“Favorite book would have to be ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight. Absolutely incredible book that details how Nike became the company it is today. One of the podcasts I most enjoy listening to is ‘Indie Hackers’ due to the vast amount of different experiences covered through each episode. There’s always something you can learn from.”

What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?

“The Wonder Years has been my go-to. A lot of their music is based around the experiences of Philadelphia. Being a Philadelphia native myself, hearing similarities between their music and my life from the band’s perspective is something I absolutely love.”

Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?

“Not a very glamorous answer, but GitHub. It’s simple, and it does what you need it to do.”

What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?

“How people-based it is, especially at the early stages of a company. To someone on the outside, being a businessman is all about money and balance sheets, but there’s really an incredible people aspect to it, whether it be networking with other companies or getting close with your customers.”

How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?

“I’ve learned to love what I do. I enjoy learning more and more each day through other founders’ experiences or my own mistakes. As a founder, even when I’m working, I’m still networking with other people, I’m still having fun, I’m still solving problems, and I’m still growing as a person.”

When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?

“Things just kind of worked out timing-wise. I started working on Invii full-time after the local business I worked at was forced to close due to COVID. Solving the same issues that forced me to take that leap is really awesome, and the impact it’s had on me as both a founder and a person is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

“My first job was working as a bagger for a southern grocery store chain called Harris Teeter when I was 16. It really helped me grow my customer service skills and learn how to empathize with both customers and coworkers.”

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