Sometimes companies emerge from a need for convenience. For Mo Sloan, it started with a penchant for a certain pizza and an easier way to order it. Sloan is the founder of EZ-Chow, a company that provides restaurants with a branded, multi-channel POS integrated API system.
Louisville Future spoke with Sloan about how EZ-Chow came about and his plans for the future.
What is your origin story?
Sloan: It started with my love for BoomBozz Pizza. I ordered their pizza a lot but noticed they didn’t have an online ordering mechanism. So I sent them an email asking if they’d ever considered adding the feature. Boombozz responded that they had looked at integrating their online ordering with their POS system but hadn’t been able to find a solution yet. I explained that I used to work for Papa John’s International and I said I would see what I could do.
As I was getting closer to what I thought they could use, Boombozz told me they were going to launch a hot chicken concept called Joella’s and asked to use my platform for that.
So you did the tech behind it?
Sloan: Yes. I wrote the code for the platform. I didn’t really plan on necessarily starting a business. I just kind of stumbled on it.
How was starting the business?
Sloan: I didn’t know what I was doing from a startup perspective. I learned a lot in those early days. I was doing product/market fit but didn’t realize that’s what it was called. I was just bootstrapping in the beginning until it got to the point where I had a business and needed to go out and raise funding.
Why the need for platform like yours?
Sloan: Basically the dilemma we’re solving is not so much a technical problem as it is a business problem. We work with multiple merchants in the on-demand space. This is any merchant that sells a product or good that you want now, either to be picked up or have it delivered. Restaurants were using third-party marketplaces, such as the Grubhub or DoorDash.
There are drawbacks when you use third-party marketplaces. For one, order accuracy suffers because they might not have the most up-to-date menu or brand identity. Then the relationship suffers because your customer is using third-party marketplace data. As a merchant, you want to have access to customer data. That way, you know who’s buying your product and can figure out how to remarket them or retarget them.
What we do is eliminate the middleman from the transaction, which allows the merchant to engage directly with the customer. That means the merchant not only has the least expensive customer acquisition costs but can also own the channel and that relationship.
We disrupt that earlier model. This, in turn, allows the merchant to communicate directly with the customer in the form of ordering, and then that goes sometimes directly to the point of sale.
You were born and raised in Louisville. Did that make your business launch easier?
Sloan: You know you’re from Louisville when you’re asked where you went to high school. It was duPont Manual for me. I went to UofL for a couple of years and ended up graduating from Sullivan University.
As far as business launching, if you’re starting a lifestyle business, it’s great. Or if you’re in healthcare, due to the influence of Humana and other health tech and other entities, then you’re good. But starting up a high-growth company in other industries can be challenging in terms of access to capital.
What are your plans for the future?
Sloan: We want to grow the company. Our goal is to exit the company at some point. My personal goal is to reinvest within the local community. I’m on one side of the table now. I like to do this from the other side of the table and help upcoming founders and entrepreneurs with their ideas. I’d like to contribute to the creative environment. I just want to have a moderately successful company exit, and then kind of retool and rebuild. In the beginning, you don’t know what you don’t know. You’re always better the second time around.