Looking Back: A Decade of FoodStorm Success
September 14th, 2017
CaterXpress Pty Ltd is the company responsible for designing & developing FoodStorm Catering Management Software. The company was founded in 2007 by Miranda and Anthony Super, and is widely considered one of the best catering software programs available today.
Anthony Super recently performed an interview on FoodStorm and its successes, and we’ve shared here his answers.
1) How did you come up with the idea for FoodStorm?
Back in 2006 I was working as a Software Architect for an IT firm in Melbourne, and Miranda worked as the Catering Manager for a large utility company in the city. Miranda would frequently tell me about problems she was having with catering orders that were incorrect, arrived at the wrong time, or just didn’t arrive at all!
I remember thinking to myself that there must be some sort of IT solution out there that could solve these issues, but after some extensive online research we were unable to find anything that solved the problems that we thought were important to corporate caterers.
So since I had a background in designing & building software, we thought that we’d have a go at building something to solve the common problems that caterers and catering customers were facing.
Since Miranda had some great contacts in the Melbourne Catering market, she teed up some meetings where we asked real caterers what their biggest problems were. This became quite a long list!
We then set-to and started designing & building the first version of our catering product, which at the time was called “CaterXpress Manager”.
2) How long did it take you to build?
In the early days both Miranda and I kept our full-time jobs, and we worked on the product on nights and weekends from home. We worked on the User Interface designs together, and I did all the coding myself – all from my kitchen table.
It took us pretty much 12 months of long days and 7-day working weeks to have the first version completed.
Our catering software was Cloud-hosted from the very beginning, and since money was tight I ordered some second-hand IBM servers off eBay and installed them in a local data-centre in Melbourne.
Miranda and I then nervously re-approached the catering companies that we had seen 12 months earlier and presented them with our new system.
Incredibly it seemed we had hit the nail on the head, as a handful of catering companies purchased the software. We then scrambled to set up our new company, quit our existing jobs, and CaterXpress Pty Ltd was born in January 2007.
3) What was the company like at the start?
I remember the early days of starting a business were really tough. Not having an established name meant we had to cold call catering companies to get new business. I know there are trained people out there who can easily cold call anyone, but for us it was completely nerve-wracking – and dealing with rejection when it’s your own company can be really hard. I really owe it to Miranda as she pretty much did all the cold calling.
That said, from within the rejections we also got some really great new customers. I remember once Miranda did a sales demo and the customer signed the contracts on-the-spot – they are still customers of ours to this very day!
It wasn’t long before we had a good base of some really great and reputable catering companies using our software, at which point Word-of-Mouth became one of our best marketing tools.
4) What was the defining goal/purpose of the software when you first thought of it? And how has that changed over the years?
The defining goal of FoodStorm has always been for catering companies to save time and increase revenue – I don’t think we’ve ever strayed from this. The FoodStorm product has certainly gotten a lot bigger over the years, but every new feature that we’ve added either falls into the bucket of saving our customers more time, or providing new tools to increase customer revenue.
5) What has it been like as a couple starting up this business?
Well I would say this: If you and your partner can make it through starting & building a business together – you can probably make it through anything! In the early days we certainly did butt our heads together on many things, and because you’re working with the person you love you do tend to get more emotional during an argument!
But looking back I think that was a natural thing to happen, startup companies are messy but over the years we’ve both carved out our own roles in the company and now we’re a great team.
6) Do you have any key or memorable moments from the years that stand out to you and/or had a big impact – both personally and on the business?
I remember from the very beginning I imagined having some of Australia’s biggest National and Multinational catering companies using our software. It seemed like a pipedream at first, but I won’t forget the day we received the signed contracts from a multi-billion dollar catering company – which then set our business on a course for getting many more enterprise-scale companies.
From a personal perspective, having 2 kids while running a business has certainly had an impact! Life is certainly an ongoing juggling act and you sometimes wonder how you manage it all.
7) In hindsight is there anything you would have changed about the software or how you approached the business?
The great thing about software is that if something isn’t working you can just change it. The FoodStorm product is constantly evolving – I think we got a lot of things right from the beginning, but where things have missed the mark we’ve worked hard to change and improve the software. Of course, we still have a wishlist a mile long of all the things we still want to add and improve to FoodStorm – but hey, that’s the nature of software.
From a business perspective, we’ve certainly made a lot of mistakes over the years – but that’s how you learn. I firmly believe that persistence is the key to success and making mistakes is sometimes the only way you can move forward.
8) What have you/your customers seen to be the most valuable part of the FoodStorm software?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint a single feature that is most valuable, so perhaps I’d say the most valuable thing about FoodStorm is simply that it contains so many valuable features. We’ve been building & tweaking this software for 10 years now and the product literally contains millions of lines of code and hundreds of useful features.
One thing I’ve learned is that managing catering is complex, so you need a powerful system to manage all of the aspects of your operation.
9) What’s been the biggest driver of FoodStorm’s growth from your perspective?
I remember my previous employer once gave me a book called Raving Fans, which was all about ensuring that each and every one of your customers simply rave about your software. It’s a mantra that certainly still pops into my head to this day, and I think that our biggest growth driver as been due to an ongoing focus on building great software that our customer simply love to use.
10) Where do you see FoodStorm going next?
Technology is constantly evolving, and the way customers interact with businesses is also evolving – so it’s important that we always keep a finger on the technology pulse. We’ve got some fantastic ideas in the works for innovative new ways of managing catering, and also new ways that customers can interact with a catering team.
There really is no end to what we can do with the FoodStorm platform, and we’re excited to still be innovating after 10 years.
To find out more about FoodStorm Catering Software Solutions, contact us today.