Cape Breton company supports entrepreneurs with innovative tech
Matt Stewart, Co-founder and CEO of click2order, says that at barely 145 lbs and 18 years old, he wasn't quite ready for adulthood as he entered the Business Administration (Accounting) Diploma program. "My interest was in business and teaching, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do at that point. I knew I wasn't ready to move away. I didn't want to leave home. NSCC was so close. It was a perfect option for me."
Over the next two years, the Truro Campus grad says that the independence he developed changed the course of his life. "That's when I grew into who I'd become. I gained confidence that would allow me to move onto that next stage of life, and a readiness to take on that next endeavour - whatever that would be."
He explains that the College's applied approach to instilling skill in students made the biggest difference. "At NSCC you're meeting with companies, interviewing them, doing accounting simulations by hand, by computer, with all different programs. You're doing real-world projects from day one. You're responsible for your own destiny in some regard."
Matt adds, "On top of that, I was in class with people who were anywhere from 18 to over 50. People from various backgrounds, countries and experience levels. Interacting with and learning from such a diverse group of people makes you mature a bit more and become much-better prepared to succeed."
When a recruiter from Cape Breton University (CBU) encouraged Matt to take advantage of the Articulation Agreement between NSCC and the university, he jumped at the chance to apply for the Bachelor of Business Administration program in year three.
While his surroundings were new – having only been to Cape Breton as a child — Matt says he was well-prepared for his classes. "I'd taken a lot of courses at NSCC that were part of the third year accounting courses at CBU."
Encouraged by his new found confidence, advanced academic standing and his girlfriend (now wife) Kala, who had made the move too, Matt became involved in campus life in ways he never had before. "I actually became president of the student union." He was also encouraged to enter the inaugural Spark Innovation Challenge – which led to securing $10,000 in financial support to launch an innovative business he and his business partner, Rob Myers, developed just one month before the competition.
Today, Matt and Rob's company is approaching its fifth year in business. The Sydney-based firm provides branded, online ordering systems to its clients — primarily small restaurants — including in Cape Breton, Ontario, Alberta and Texas. Using click2order's platform, restaurant customers can place orders and pay online right from that restaurant's website or mobile app.
"There's a lot of on-demand delivery apps that provide this kind of service to restaurants, but some charge between 12.5% to 30% of the transaction fee, and all marketing activity is focused on the app itself." He explains, "If you're a small business, you can't build your brand this way — it's cost prohibitive. That model doesn't really cater to a restaurant's existing customer base either, which accounts for 80% of their business."
Matt says that his model isn't about attracting customers to his platform, it's about helping restaurants attract customers. "It's an old school business model, but old school can work."
He adds, "We're a small company ourselves and we know how difficult it is to shell out that kind of money. We've built our software to be scalable to each individual restaurant, without having to attach an exorbitant price tag to it."
Admittedly, Matt's appreciation for entrepreneurs started when he was a child — his father owns a welding company and both grandfathers owned successful businesses. However, through classes focused on innovation and entrepreneurial problem-solving, Matt says NSCC allowed him to develop the skills necessary to achieve a fulfilling, successful career. "I started to become a confident, independent thinker at NSCC. That's important whether you're going to be an entrepreneur or whether you're going to go work for one."