“Think about it, a 24-year-old kid building a million-dollar business within a year,” Onur Haytac, founder of Benseron Hospitality said. For Haytac, there wasn’t another option.
“As an immigrant student at the time, I didn’t have a choice, I either did it, or I had to go back, that was my mindset.”
“I came to United States for grad school. When I was about to graduate, I got a call from a gentleman who owns 150 Subway franchises and I realized they were using a really outdated point-of-sales system,” he said. “I came up with a potential solution to their POS challenge, gave them a sample and they loved it. I was pretty much in 150 Subway stores in four months.”
Founded in 2004, Benseron provides point-of-sales systems, payment technologies, online ordering and related services to thousands of restaurants and retail stores.
“The only reason I stayed in the United states was because of this business, it became a passion. So, I kept building new applications to improve the process,” he said. “My biggest passion is to =improve people’s businesses significantly.”
Haytac explained that this career pathway was never his intention, saying “It was just a coincidence, it just happened.” Surrounded by a brand-new culture, having to navigate his business on his own and becoming extremely sick, Haytac’s 15-year journey certainly wasn’t easy.
“Out of college I was an immigrant student, so my English was not that good. Learning to adapt tothe culture took me several years; it was a major challenge. I didn’t have any mentors, I learned almost everything by myself.”
“The first few years I was really running my business with my ego mind. I was thinking I could do everything myself and it needs to happen my way, or the highway. As I was growing the business, I was expanding to different countries and I was trying to control everything. I literally fell sick on one of my trips to India and was in the hospital for 10 days,” he explained.
Haytac says that life-changing moment was, ironically, the best thing that ever happened to him. “I recognized that some things are out of your control, you have to let the universe control certain things and you have to just be in the flow,” he said.
“I had to rest at home for three months; I didn’t go to work. I got into meditation and literally reprogrammed my mind. I was able to come up with my new product, Linga POS and a new focus. My intentions went from “Yeah let's grow this to a global business and make a lot of money,” to “How can I deliver a product that will change this industry and change people’s businesses?”
Benseron now employs more than 110 people, all of which share a similar passion.
“I make sure people that work for this corporation are passionate human beings. Not only for the business we are in but for our customers. I pick 95 percent of these people from the hospitality business because you can’t have empathy if you don’t know what they’re going through.”
“My employees have been able to see that I’ve gone from a little 10 by 10 room to a large corporation and it didn’t happen because I was smarter than the other guy or I had more money. I was just super passionate about what I did.”
Keeping a competitive edge
“We are in the top 3 products in the world right now with this technology,” Haytac said.
Benseron was the first in its industry to develop a cloud-based point-of-sale system, Linga POS, using Apple iPads. This point-of-sale technology allows restaurateurs and owners to continue making sales even if there’s a power outage since the devices can communicate with each other without internet connection.
Linga POS can control the security cameras, thermostats and door locks of business owners’ premises using Google Nest.
“It’s the only solution right now available globally. You can download it anywhere in the world and start taking orders within 10 minutes, it’s unbelievable. You can literally go live within minutes.”
“You just have to take the orders and Linga POS applies the intelligence. It shows you what your best-selling item is, who’s your highest paid employee or who opens and closes checks the fastest,” he said.
Haytac isn’t only motivated to give his business a competitive edge, but to help his clients obtain theirs as well.
“I’m pushing my clients to learn how to do inventory control. 30% of inventory is food costs and 30% is labor and that’s pretty much the standard. If you go below those numbers, then you’re going to start losing money. So we help them stay on track with benchmarks and reporting,” he explained.
“Despite strong growth via sales and channel partners, the product is reaching a point where it needs to be taken to the next level,” he said.
When asked about where he hopes to see his business in the future, Haytac had his eyes on expansion.
“I say to myself, I have 2 more months to be in 40 countries before I’m 40,” he laughed. “We have one country left, so I think we’re going to hit that. I’m not going to push for it, but if it happens it happens. So were getting international leads every day, and things are going great.”
“I’m thinking about opening more offices in more parts of the world,” he said. “We’re starting to sell in the India market next year, which is super exciting for me since there’s 1.5 million restaurants there; it’s a huge market.”
However, while planning to expand Benseron into the Asia-Pacific market, one of Haytac’s biggest goals is right in his backyard.
“I want every restaurant in Florida to use us because we are helping grow the local economy,” he said. “We are giving them a world-class product and a world class service that would change their business,” he said. “So that’s my next goal. Not just staying under the radar, but making sure people know who we are. I think we’re ready for that, it’s been 16 years to get to this level.”
What is means to be a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
Benseron was chosen as an honoree this year for Grow FL’s Florida Companies to Watch. This event showcases second-stage companies in Florida who have demonstrated tremendous innovation and growth.
When asked about what this honor means to both him and his employees, Haytac said it’s really exciting.
“It’s a validation of where we are and where we have come from,” he said. “Sometimes we are so busy plugging away delivering new services that we forget to look back at how far we’ve come in 5 years, 10 years. So it’s beautiful to see. I think that’s something that everyone is excited about.”
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Looking back on almost two decades of his entrepreneurial journey, Haytac was quick to give young entrepreneurs chasing their dreams some key advice.
“If you want to do something big, don’t do it for money,” he said. “Find something you’re super passionate about instead. Success is persistence plus failure. It’s important to learn from your failures but you can’t give up. You have to be persistent, and it’s easier to be persistent when you love what you are doing.”
“Don’t do it for money, if you’re good at it the money will come to you,” Haytac said.
Notable community contributions
Benseron donates point-of-sale products and services to Florida Gulf Coast University for their Resort and Hospitality Management program. Benseron has also donated POS products to the Special Needs classes of Naples High School, where they use the product to run an internal breakfast restaurant, teaching the children useful employment skills.
Benseron established the Gulf Coast Giving Project, to assist local merchants to funnel a percentage of their sales to charity, has been a contributor to the Golisano Children's Museum, and an Elite Sponsor of the Naples International Film Festival.