Steve Palmer and his partner, Luke Bayas took the DreamIt Ventures application requirements literally: “We are not looking for a detailed business plan.”
So when Palmer looks back on the application process with a year of wisdom, he’s not surprised their idea for Squareroute — a real-time delivery tracking service — was rejected, though they made it to a late-stage interview.
“We had no code written, just an idea and a concept around our platform,” said Palmer, who added that he values DreamIt, even if he wasn’t the right fit at the right time. “They took the ten minutes they gave us and hammered us.”
Palmer says that after that interview, he and Bayas spent the next few hours at a diner licking their wounds and “reformulating all the plans we initially had.”
It’s been a year since Palmer and Bayas first applied to DreamIt and hardly more then a year since the two met through a mutual friend, but a lot has changed about the “big idea” they naively pitched to DreamIt. For one, the name of the company has changed to Locengine.
The two also now have a business plan and they’ve been accepted to an accelerator, though it’s in South Carolina not Philly.
“Timing is everything. If the DreamIt app had opened for Philly a few months ago we would have considered it,” Palmer said. “Our process from the time we applied to DreamIt has been incredible.”
Palmer says he attributes the progression of the company, which has been renamed Locengine, to the lessons learned from DreamIt’s rejection.
Palmer’s three big takeaways were these:
- Refine your model: “[DreamIt] questioned how we were going to tackle big companies like UPS and get delivery services to adopt our [real-time] platform,” Palmer said. “We refined that model to really focus more on location management —so businesses that do provide deliveries or repair services in the home would have a platform to notify their customers of an arrival time using GPS technology on a smartphone.”
- Focus on a manageable market and validate your idea by talking to your customers in advance: “We needed to identify a market that would benefit from this, one that would be large enough to create a critical mass, but wasn’t so big that you were going to attempt to take over a platform that someone like UPS has already been using,” Palmer said. “We scaled it back to fit a smaller business model and capitalize on the number of small businesses that are located everywhere throughout the country, utilizing it as an opportunity for businesses that don’t have that option to get into the game.”As he and Bayas work towards building a prototype for beta release, Palmer says the two are already working with Philadelphia food trucks, thinking about ways they can use the Locengine platform.
- Use the right technology to solve your problem: “[DreamIT] asked if were going to use standalone GPS units for all of the customers that would use our software and our reponse was that that was an option, but the cost associated with it would be pretty monumental in a small business environment,” Palmer said. “We worked through the process to utilize applications as a result of that… We realized we were setting goals we might not be able to attain.”
Now the plan is for Locengine will run on a native application, Palmer told Technically Philly.
With these lessons in mind, Palmer and Bayas leave for South Carolina accelerator, The Iron Yard, in mid-June. But Palmer, 38, who lives with his family in Lititz, says he thinks he will be back to the area after the accelerator program. Bayas, 29, who currently lives in Framingham, Mass., is likely to move to the area with his wife then as well, Palmer told Technically Philly.
Palmer says he just wants others to know there is a larger benefit to the DreamIt application process, even for those that are denied entrance to the program.
“That process was extremely valuable to us,” Palmer said. “We feel it was a catalyst for helping us get to where we are today.”
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