Founded in January of 2017 by Marc Vanja Mišanović, Ryan Paiva and Raymond Vandenberg, Pizzamico is an online ordering platform designed for independent restaurants. The idea for Pizzamico, as Marc explained, came from a variety of places and was fueled by a committed and well executed customer discovery and customer validation process.
"The inspiration for Pizzamico was born from a mixture of events, conversations with local pizzerias and from several attempts to order pizzas online from independent pizzerias," Mišanović said. "We did 20-30 interviews with local Volusia restaurants. We spoke with some restaurants with websites and others without. Some had third party ordering platforms and with others, you could only call in an order. After those conversations, and a situation where a business owner was willing to hand us a large check to immediately implement our proposed platform, we knew we had something. We tossed around different ideas on what we could do for independent pizzerias. Most had outdated websites and the owners weren't very tech savvy. We set out to find a model, utilizing lean startup and agile development approaches, that would get them more sales and more exposure."
With that, Pizzamico was born. At the time, Mišanović, Paiva and Vandenberg were all part of Golevel, a full-stack development and consulting agency in Daytona Beach. Mišanović first learned of Golevel after attending a 1 Million Cups meetup where Paiva was pitching another startup. The two stayed in touch and, after being part of separate initiative hosted by the UCF Business Incubator to encourage people to pursue computer programming, Mišanović joined Golevel as a Project Manager.
As Mišanović explained, the focus from day one, was to truly get to know the customer and to develop an all encompassing solution. "We spent about a month in the first quarter of 2017 volunteering with a local pizza shop. We were there to learn the business. We helped with everything from handling phone orders, deliveries, cleaning and making pizzas. Most importantly, we got to see how orders came in and, as a result, we started to figure out the pain points. From that experience, and other outreach efforts, we developed a streamlined solution that, not only includes the online ordering platform, but also takes care of their domain registration and website build out if needed, increases their web presence and improves their overall online marketing strategy."
Mišanović shared that the response from local independent pizzerias has been great. Since going live, the three partners have focused on sales & product development and business model design to generate new sales. That strategy has recently changed as they brought on someone to focus on marketing and additional outreach. To increase customer acquisition, they're deploying a Southeast marketing campaign, improving their social media presence and will be launching a new and improved website soon.
Looking ahead, Mišanović and his partners are looking at expanding their model to include other restaurant segments such as Chinese and Mexican. They will focus on expansion through strategic partnerships with restaurants, restaurant marketing agencies and food suppliers that already have established relationships with restaurants. According to Mišanović, partnerships are a big component of their growth strategy, requiring the least amount of effort and netting the maximum amount of results.
Mišanović offers up some excellent advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Do your research while you're still working at your day job," he said. "You'll need money to survive and pay bills while you build out your business on the side. Your biggest concern in the beginning should be customer discovery. All you have is assumptions until they're tested. Timing is also very important. Don't wait too long if you have an opportunity. Figure out a business model that is sustainable and that you can scale. Read books like the Lean Startup and Startup Owner's Manual and use tools like the business model canvas and the value proposition canvas to visualize and to get everything on paper. Lastly, start building your network now, and always, with investors, partners, mentors, etc. Surround yourself with people that love hearing about your ideas and can give you feedback."