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Detroit, MI 48226

Automation equals gazelle growth for Detroit's foodjunky

Imagine trying to run a business where your team had to manually enter the information for each new client. Now imagine doing that as a tech startup.

That wasn't exactly the point where Travis O Johnson was living the entrepreneurial dream. But it was the dark time before the dawn of rapid growth for his company, foodjunky.

The downtown Detroit-based startup simplifies the online food ordering system for groups. Its software enables large groups to place restaurant orders with a simple process that eliminates errors and streamlines food delivery. Watch a video describing foodjunky’s service here.

In the early days, foodjunky's first customers (restaurants) needed to touch base with it directly to leverage its services. Nothing about signing up was automated.

"We had a lot of manual processes," says Johnson, foodjunky's co-founder & CEO. "They needed to call us and we needed to do it (sign them up) for them."

That is what was holding foodjunky back. It's something Johnson and his small team saw and quickly moved to improve.

"We have fully automated that," Johnson says, adding restaurants can sign themselves up now with little impediment. "That's why we can add 50 restaurants a day and 1,000 per month. We have to make the processes quicker."

Today foodjunky is in 100 cities across 20 states. Johnson expects to be in all 50 states by next year. To make that possible he plans to leverage $750,000 in seed capital to launch a revamped platform that is both more streamlined and comes with more features.

"Right now we're adding 1,000 restaurants per month," Johnson says. "A year from now we hope to be in 20,000 restaurants."

Johnson and his team of 10 employees (its looking to hire two more right now) didn't get there by themselves. Foodjunky launched out of the Bizdom accelerator two years ago and still calls that space home. It also works with the MidMichigan Innovation Center in Midland.

Johnson was introduced to the MidMichigan Innovation Center by Ken Kousky, president and chairman of the board for the Blue Water Angels angel investor group. Kousky has served as a mentor for Johnson and helped guide the Blue Water Angels to be a lead investor in foodjunky. Kousky also helped Johnson and his team find follow-on funding from the like of the Northern Michigan Angels.

"They are very good about finding more investors so the company still has cash flow," Johnson says. "Ken Kousky has been a great mentor for foodjunky. He is always a phone call away."

Johnson also helped bring the Bootstrappers Breakfast meetup to Detroit. The group meets every third Thursday of each month at Bizdom's offices. The meetup helps guide aspiring entrepreneurs so they can take their ideas to market.

"It's about someone who is working on an idea but doesn't know what to do," Johnson says. "We help those people."

Welcome to the Year of the Gazelle, an exploration of the fastest-growing startups in southeast Michigan by the Startup team and the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan (NEI). Not only will we identify the local gazelle companies that are perfecting innovative new products, creating jobs, and generating lots of revenue, we will give you a full accounting of each one. The stories behind the entrepreneurs that build these businesses. The investors that back them. The resources they leverage. How they have all worked together to build Metro Detroit's new economy, and how they plan to do it in the future. In return we will only ask you to do one thing: keep up.

- Written by Jon Zemke

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  • Bizdom
    Bizdom is a startup accelerator that was started by Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures, majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and general partner of Detroit Venture Partners to help entrepreneurs in Detroit and ...