Congratulations to Jim Bricker and the team at Order Mapper for being selected as the winner of the Twilio and PayPalX developer contest! We asked Jim to tell us his story and he did such a good job, I’m going to leave the rest of the post to him…
What’s the story behind Order Mapper?
Order Mapper was born on the golf course. My uncle and I were looking for the drink lady and thought how cool it would be to be able to order from your iPhone. We wanted to allow people to order from casino pools, sporting events, and the golf course. Investors we talked to didn’t think it was big enough. So I decided to focus on pizza because it is the most likely item people will purchase on a mobile device.
I formed Order Mapper Inc. To start, I needed to learn how to make mobile apps. So I created 21 Golf Tips. It’s a simple audio book that walks you through 21 ways to improve your golf game. My iPhone developer, Shahryar Khan, was a student at the first iPhone class taught by Apple at Stanford. We worked well together, spent a huge amount of time on figuring out how to create and submit apps to the AppStore and delivered a really high quality product. The app is still selling for $9.99 on the AppStore.
I heard about Twilio through a good friend of mine, Greg Meyer. We went to UW Business School together. After reading about how easy it was to make voice applications, I contacted Twilio and met Danielle Morrill. I asked her if she knew any good developers that knew Twilio and she introduced me to John Pitocco. We began designing and coding right away. Within 2 weeks, we had our Proof of Concept ready to go. We were calling pizza orders to each other and decided we needed to go show it to our mentors.
I decided to show it to a good friend of mine, Sean Jazayeri (now one of our investors). I worked for Sean for several years at Avanade while he was the CIO. He was having a poker party and I thought it would be a perfect way to test our first order. I didn’t know it at first, but he had invited Hadi Partovi (the founder of iLike and TellMe). Before the poker party, we went to a pizza place in Bellevue and told them we were going to order pizza that night and to make sure to take the order. To our surprise, the guy behind the counter rudely said, “NO! We don’t take orders like that!” He definitely didn’t understand what we were doing and I think he thought we were crazy. So we went to the poker party feeling very disappointed that we weren’t going to be able to do the demo.
While I was sitting there, I thought to myself, “F*#$ it! Let’s just order from a random pizzeria.” I looked up the number to Dominos on Google, pasted it into our web based Twilio app from my iPhone, and tapped order. About 25 minutes later, my wife jumped up and yelled, “Yay!!! It worked!” The Dominos guy walked in front of the dining room window and rang the door bell. We were all shocked and started high fiving each other. We realized that Dominos took our order without talking to a human and had no idea where it came from. We knew we were really on to something. Hadi ended up knocking me out of poker game early. I was exhausted from preparing for the demo the night before. I think I had about 3 hours of sleep.
I called a good friend of mine, Simon Taghioff and asked him if he wanted to do the UI and graphics for a company I was building. He created a cardboard looking icon and “Order Pizza” was born! Simon is now our CMO.
We launched our beta version of Order Pizza in December to see how the market would react. We were amazed to see our downloads hitting 10,000 and then 20,000 in just a few weeks. We had to keep refilling our Twilio account and decided we had to figure out how to make some money.
After landing a couple more investors, we setup a booth at the 2010 International Pizza Expo. At the show, we released our branded pizzeria apps. One of the franchisees that owns 8 Round Tables in the Silicon Valley (Round Table was the 5th largest pizzeria in the country) signed up as well as a few other chains. We had paying customers!
We launched about 10 branded white label apps on the AppStore. We learned a ton about our customers (pizzeria chains) and how they do business. Pizza Hut called us and asked us how they can help us deliver orders directly to their backend. We had delivered orders to 1 in 7 Pizza Huts and franchisees were asking for more features.
We launched our Android beta version of Order Pizza and quickly learned how hard it was to support many devices.
My daughter asked me, “Dad, are you in love with your pizza app?” At that moment, I realized that I was kind of in love my pizza app. I explained to her that everything I was doing was so that I could take care of her and my wife. I love them more than anything.
We were selected as a finalist in the PayPalX Innovate developer challenge. We came in second in our category, the winner, iConcessionStand was doing orders directly to hardware Points of Sale. We were disappointed, but excited that investors were finally paying attention to mobile ordering. We are now working with PayPal on some cutting edge mobile payment solutions that integrate directly with Twilio.
I just moved to San Francisco. 150,000 downloads and counting. Wait until you see Order Pizza 2.0! We are also building another app for a non-food vertical. It’s sweeeeet!
What technologies are you using for Order Mapper?
Our backend is currently written in .NET. We are on Microsoft BizSpark, we get all of our Microsoft software for free. We are also on the Windows Phone 7 Tap program and are really excited to launch our Windows Phone 7 apps next week. We will be the first mobile ordering company to go live on all three platforms.
How was your experience with integrating Twilio?
Twilio is the coolest thing I have ever seen. It takes a really old technology, the phone, and makes it a programming language. It is the most powerful and easy to use API I have worked with. I mean think about it. Our app translates human desires for food to a computer and the computer processes it by sending the order to other computers and humans. We have only begun to see the power of Twilio.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We are launching an affiliate program. Signup your pizzeria and get $100! We are also hiring interns and rockstar-startup-minded-developers. If you’re interested in discussing the affiliate program or job openings, email Jim Bricker.