Clay Hutcherson, founder, president and chief executive officer of Binnj, was inspired by his 12 years old son who was accessing and consuming content about the upcoming race season with his iPad. He instantly had a fresh idea about creating a company’s new product, an iPad-based real-time electronic restaurant menu platform. The new product would be called LiveMenu. It would be a digital menu where restaurant owners could adjust and update their traditional menu at any time which would help them to manage their inventory and increase profitability.
The experience for the patron would be a dynamic menu, with links to various information, photos, and videos. All of this would be supported initially by the Apple iPad, with room to expand into other tablet hardware as it emerged. Hutcherson believed that the iPad was going to change electronic content consumption forever with its light form factor, full-screen touch-based navigation system, Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity, popular productivity and lifestyle applications, stable and highly popular software development kit.
With this disruptive technology, restaurant owners could have full control to customize their menu, cost saving on printing traditional menu, and risk-free fix-priced bundling; customers could be presented with up-selling, purchase options, and specific promotions. Hutcherson spent the next six weeks thinking about the feasibilities of the LiveMenu and analyzing the core idea about management, design, information technology, financial, sales, and marketing. Even though it was not fully-formed idea, Hutcherson wanted to push it forward and start building a sales funnel in 100 days by planning carefully with his Binnj team.
Hutcherson decided to treat the 100 day time frame as more of a science experiment then a startup. All work done by the team was done on a volunteer basis, with the promise of compensation only if the project worked. Hutcherson was very curious and excited about this potentially disruptive technology and the prospect of building a new platform for the restaurant industry, but he was not sure whether this platform would be created by his Binnj team the way he imagined.
He wasn’t even quite sure what he imagined the platform to ultimately be. In April 2010, after the iPad was officially released for sale in the United States, Hutcherson had a conversation with his key people (eventual the Binnj team) separately about his idea. Jen Hosafros, a graphic designer; Nancy Philip, a chartered accountant; James Hayes, a sales and marketing expert; and Scott Corscadden, a software engineer would make up the development team. They were all inspired by his wild idea and sensed the real, future value of the LiveMenu.
They were using collaborative tools that allow them to communicate, interact, collaborate, and work from different places and at different times of a day. Basecamp for overall project scheduling and test management, Redmine for feature, development tasks and bug tracking, SubversioN for code management and Dropbox for distributed file sharing, Skype for teleconferencing and videoconferencing. After Clay generated excitement and more productive information in all aspects involved in the business, he arranged his first jam section discussion meeting with his Binnj team in August 2010.