“Based on intuition, based on pattern recognition, based on some historical analogy, I imagined where this could go and then, having a hypothesis, gathered enough data to really have conviction,” says Glass of his own creative process. “You can work backward. You should begin with the end in mind, then plot a course.”
That approach led him to found online-ordering platform Olo in 2005, back when a mere 5 percent of consumers had smartphones. Early on it proved a steep learning curve for restaurants and their guests, but fairly soon operators realized that online ordering freed up employees from manning the phones and also guaranteed that pick-ups were paid in full, regardless of whether customers claimed them.
Nearly 15 years later, Olo has evolved beyond its original online-ordering foundation to encompass a number of digital services, including delivery. Its latest rollout, Expo, aggregates and organizes orders from across multiple and direct and third-party platforms. The New York–based brand’s client roster now includes more than 250 restaurant brands across 50,000 locations.
But despite the tech advances made by Olo and other early restaurant digital solutions providers, foodservice is still considered to lag behind other industries.