Quickening the pace of change
They were taking orders for gin in one corner of the room and delivering them in another. For guests mingling at the new offices of QikServe this was a way of showing them what the company does and how it lives up to its name.
As the QikServe-operated kiosk did brisk trade among the gin lovers, Daniel Rodgers was sharing a demonstration of an installation for Burger King. The fast food chain has just gone live with the click-to-order kiosks at Amsterdam Central rail station and more in the US.
Rodgers, co-founder and CEO of Edinburgh-based QikServe, says the company is “at the front end” of changes in the way we order and buy goods, particularly food and drink. Technology is reducing queuing for customers and lowering costs for retailers.
He’s recently raised money for the company which has relocated to refurbished Randolph House in Edinburgh’s west end, home to its 24 staff, mainly software engineers.
It marks another milestone for one of Scotland’s fast-growing tech firms which has raised more than £2.7 million from investors, including Equity Gap, Par Equity and Maven Capital Partners.
“Equity Gap has been with us from the beginning. We could not have done this without them,” he says. “It takes a lot of investment to get something like this to this stage.”
Rodgers is unusual among the tech community. “I do not have a technology background,” he says. “I worked in customer services.”
He dropped out of a university course in bio-medical studies and for a while cut the grass on motorway embankments.
“I was always interested in science and went from that to work in the labs at the blood transfusion service.”
That led him back to university to study life sciences and subsequently into business consultancy and customer services.
An experience trying to get a table for his children in a fast food restaurant made him realise there was a business opportunity in improving service.
“I spoke to people who shared my frustrations and decided to do something about it.”
He was introduced to Ronnie Forbes, who in 2002 had launched mobile ticketing company Mobiqa, and they created an “order and pay platform” for hospitality operators. Using QikServe software the operators can take orders and payment for food and drinks directly from customers from any device.
Rodgers signed up with software giant Oracle and in early 2012 raised some seed capital.
“We did a test run with West Brewery in Glasgow and when that went well we raised more money from the angel syndicates.”
The company now owns a patent across the US but has yet to make a breakthrough in the UK.
“All our business is overseas,” says Rodgers, who adds that he is in talks with two global companies, one a theme park operator and the other a travel concession.
Just last week he introduced Craneware co-founder Gordon Craig as a non-executive director. Craneware, also Edinburgh based, has a huge business in the US healthcare billing sector.
“His experience will be invaluable,”says Rodgers. “Craneware is big in America and that’s our goal.”
Birthplace: South Africa
Education: Glasgow Caledonian University (bio-medical sciences for six months); Napier University (life sciences)
Career highlights: Blood Transfusion Service; Quintiles (quality management); QikServe
Who have been your mentors?
Ronnie Forbes and Martin Mutch (investor and company chairman)
Who from the past or present would you invite to a discussion of new ideas?
Martin Mutch, Barack Obama and Michaelangelo
What do you admire in people?
Creativity and an ability to communicate
What annoys you?