Technology entrepreneur Omer Choudhary faced an uphill battle when he launched his restaurant software company, Truffle, in the middle of the pandemic.
Although hundreds of Edmonton businesses were seeking solutions for touchless payments and digital orders, his team managed to sign up only 10 restaurants in the first three months.
“The biggest challenge I had was people not believing technology talent existed in Edmonton,” Choudhary said. “The first 10, 50, 100 customers were hard. Getting it across to customers to believe in us was hard. It was scary at first.”
After 12 months and a lot of hard work, Choudhary’s efforts have drawn 450 new subscribers across Canada — and last week his company Truffle took home the third-place prize for MSP of the Year and the digital innovator of the year award at the MSP 501 Channel Futures Summit in Las Vegas.
“It was a proud moment,” Choudhary said about the award he received on Nov. 3. “What we’re doing is being recognized. I felt really proud we could show the world there’s a lot of tech talent in Edmonton.”
The tide began to turn for Truffle once Choudhary could show potential clients that his subscription services, ranging in price from $69 to $279, would save them money compared to food delivery giants like DoorDash and SkipTheDishes.
“We needed the data to prove we’re more affordable than third-party drivers” he said.
“And it’s about more than just less fees. When we make the site for the restaurant, they own that. They’re in control of their own brands.”
Ahead of COVID-19, Choudhary had been working on Truffle for six months and thought the digital shift in the hospitality industry would take another five to 10 years.
“In the long run, I figured restaurants would have to become more digital. Before the pandemic no one was talking about that,” Choudhary said.
Now, Choudhary is planning to increase his staff to almost 60 in 2022 from 20 people, a move that he said will enable Truffle to reach 3,000 customers in the next two years.
For other aspiring technology entrepreneurs in the city, Choudhary urges them to believe they don’t have to be in Toronto or Vancouver to find success.
“I kept noticing that there are opportunities and a market here that no one was going after,” he said. “Other entrepreneurs might not see it today but they should keep going. That’s what we did. We didn’t stop.”