He’s carrying out his takeout idea

Jeremy Hobson Jan 1, 2010

He’s carrying out his takeout idea

Jeremy Hobson Jan 1, 2010


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: So it’s New Year’s Day. Looking for something quick and easy to eat? Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson reports on one entrepreneur who’s trying to make fast food even faster.

[Sound of a gong ringing.]

Jeremy Hobson: That’s the second gong of the day at Gomobo headquarters. The gong rings every time there’s a big piece of good news at the company.

Dave Fellows: I am gonging because we have been officially accepted as an iPhone developer.

Dave Fellows is one of 10 employees at Gomobo. He works for 28-year-old Noah Glass, who started the company four years ago.

Glass: I’d say that I’ve been working 100-hour weeks every week for the last four years.

And with a work ethic like that, it won’t surprise you what he’s been working on. Gomobo is a Web site that’s meant to save you time ordering takeout food. You order online or on your phone, pay in advance, and skip the lines when you go pick it up. It doesn’t cost anything for you the customer. Glass and his company collect fees from participating restaurants.

Glass: We’re going to end this year at 5,000 restaurants.

And Gomobo will be making a profit at 3,500, he says.

The huge jump in numbers is due to deals with Subway, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. Up till now, the company has been running on investor support — primarily from a wealthy venture capitalist Glass showed the idea to just before he was supposed to start attending Harvard Business School.

This was the guy’s response:

Glass: “Show me that you’re really in this thing and withdraw from Harvard Business School and then we’ll put the money in.”

So Glass traded his potential Harvard degree for a whole lot of takeout food.

Glass: I’m going to log in and register, which is how I sign into my account.

Glass pulls out his Blackberry to show me how the product works.

Glass: I will get a 6-inch turkey breast Fresh Value Meal.

Just to test things out, I’ll order the old fashioned way — by standing in line when we get to the restaurant.

Hobson: Could I have lettuce, tomato, green peppers?

Glass picks his order up, already paid for, about 30 seconds after we walk in the door. And when I finally sit down at the table, he says:

Glass: “Five minutes, right there.”

Hobson: That was five minutes you’ve been sitting here. Your sandwich is getting cold.

OK, so it works — or at least restaurants, large and small, seem to think so. But how common is this kind of entrepreneurial success? What does it take?

I asked Rod Kurtz, senior editor of Inc. Magazine.

Rod Kurtz: It’s not good enough to just have an idea. It’s not good enough just to work hard. It’s where the two intersect. That’s where you find the real success stories.

It’s the combination of innovation, smarts, hard work and competitiveness, he says. And confidence — what it takes to do some of the things Noah Glass has done in his life: Bike across the country; Move to South Africa to work for a company that helps business start-ups; Abandon a budding career playing lacrosse. And, oh yeah, throw Harvard Business School out the window to start a company.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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