January 20, 2023
Tommy Yionoulis - Staying the Course as a Bootstrapped Startup

Tommy Yionoulis is the founder of OpsAnalitica, a SaaS platform that helps multi-unit businesses manage and measure their daily team activities for more consistent operations. In this episode, you’ll hear how Tommy went from ...

Tommy Yionoulis is the founder of OpsAnalitica, a SaaS platform that helps multi-unit businesses manage and measure their daily team activities for more consistent operations. 

In this episode, you’ll hear how Tommy went from being a “non-techie” guy working in the restaurant business and moonlighting as a standup comedian, to founding his SaaS company, OpsAnalitica. 

As a business owner, Tommy shares the ups and downs of bootstrapping a software startup and how he finds the motivation to keep going and not give up. You’ll learn from his experience how to leverage automation to free up your time when you don’t have a team; how to know when you should hire salespeople; and whether obtaining private equity funding is the right decision for your business.

Finally, Tommy talks about how critical the support of his spouse has been to building a bootstrapped business, the development challenges specific to building a software  company, and the mindset that motivates him to keep driving forward through the hard times.

If you’ve ever had times where you felt like giving up on your business, Tommy’s story will inspire you to keep going, so join our conversation!

Skip to topic:
4:04 - How a non-technical comedian found his way into tech
5:01 - Moving into business process management 
5:49 - Launching OpsAnalytica
13:38 - What to consider before accepting private equity funding
16:38 - Overcoming a drastic, sudden drop in sales
17:33 - Generating sales as a bootstrapped SaaS company
20:35 - Using business automation when you don’t have a team
21:31 - Recognizing when to hire sales help
23:51 - Finding the motivation to stay the course when you’re not making money
25:00 - Making sense of the difficult times
26:47 - 2 things that drove Tommy to keep going and not give up
29:00 - The role family support played in the decision to continue with the business
30:57 - The complicated nature of software development and managing expectations
35:13 - What Tommy thinks is real vs. what we see out in the business world
36:50 - Developing successful tech products by solving a problem

Find Tommy  at:

Website: http://opsanalitica.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tommyy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/opsanalitica/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/OpsAnalitica

Visit Stephanie at: https://stephaniehayes.biz/

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Welcome to the Real People, Real Business Show. My name is Stephanie Hayes and I'm a business strategist who loves to speak with like-minded entrepreneurs to share their real stories and the gritty details on building their businesses. On this show, you won't hear about the glamorized entrepreneurship journeys that you see online. You won't be told how to make six figures in six weeks. Instead, you can expect to hear real, vulnerable and inspiring stories you can relate to that have helped create the foundation for each of our guests' businesses. Goodbye, boss Babes. Hello, real life entrepreneurs today. I'm so excited to welcome Tommy Yionoulis. Tommy has been in the restaurant industry for nearly his entire life. He has a BSBA from University of Denver's Hotel Restaurant School. In addition to an MBA, this former standup comedian turned SaaS founder. Extensive experience helping businesses become more efficient and profitable, profitable through process accountability and data. He's currently the managing director of OpsAnalytica an operations analytics platform that focuses on managing and measuring daily team activities for large multi-unit businesses. Tommy believes that the next. Big technological disruptor event for many businesses is going to be implementing operations management software to shape the future of work and beat our competitors through better, more consistent daily operations. Welcome to the show, Tommy, and thanks so much for taking the time to share your story today. Oh, thank you very much for having me. Okay, so, so back it up. Restaurant industry, SaaS, operations, analytics. How did this happen? So yeah, it, it's like a normal SaaS founders story. I was doing standup for like 10 years after grad. Yeah, that's normal. I hear a lot of SaaS founders that did stand up. Exactly. With no technological background really, other than, I mean, I don't have any technological background, but my mom and my dad. My dad was a rocket scientist and my mom worked at Lockheed, so like I was around tech my whole life because we had like a Commodore 64 and we had one of the first I B M computers and like. My dad would, when he worked from home, like if I was sick, he was programming the whole day. And so I was around tech but I had no tech experience. And um, I went to grad school, so I did stand up like 95. I graduated from hotel school like three months into that summer just talking to my best friend Allison, who runs a bar out here. And I was managing a country club in Virginia and Northern Virginia and I was like, I should just be a standup comic cuz that'd be way more fun than this. And she was, Brilliant sage of that time, and she was like, dude, you're 23 years old. You don't wanna be 40 with a wife and kids living in the suburbs, regretting that when you were 23 you didn't do standup. So, . I was like, you're right. And so I like literally a couple weeks later, went down to Baltimore, checked out an open mic. They told me to come back in two weeks. I didn't stand up, fell instantly in love, and then continued to work in the restaurant industry for the next like 10 years, but did stand up primarily like that was my real job. And so I would travel and pretty much everywhere, WestEd and Mississippi I would, I had performed in all those states. . And then around 2004 I was getting pretty burned out and tired and broke and you know, everyone's getting older and having kids and getting married and you know, getting cool cars. And I was just sort of sitting there like making eight 50 an hour working in the basement of this comedy club And I was just like, I gotta do something with my life. And literally coming back from the Vegas Comedy Festival, I called the University of Denver and I said, Hey, I wanna get an mba. And they were like, first of all, they were nonplussed that someone would just call having done zero research, go, how do you get an M B A? Like, that's almost like a prank call to an admissions department. And they were like, well, you gotta apply and get your GMATs. I'm like, great, thanks. Bye. Click hung up. decided I'm gonna go get my GMATs. So I'm gonna start studying for the GMATs. I'll apply. I get into school, do my MBA, get out, go to Quiznos. Quiznos is the biggest franchise implosion ever. I got there, my first job there was a franchise assistance program manager. So my job is to help franchisees that are dying. This is 2008 in the financial downturn at the peak of the Quiznos collapse. So every day, eight hours a day for months, it's just, how can you, I'm going outta business, what can you help me do you know? Which was nothing by the way. And then I ended up, as I got promoted, we laid everybody off. I got a new job and my new job was build out and start reporting on all these audits we're doing. So audits were, you go out to the restaurant, you visit, you go do an inspection. They did it on paper. No visibility, no accountability, no data. So I ended up building myself a web form that you could run on a 2008 smartphone. And that was really the predecessor to my current company today, OpsAnalytica. And that's how I kind of got into tech. So then I had a buddy from grad school that was like, Quiznos is a sinking ship. I just got recruited away from my current company. Would you like to backfill me and learn how to do, uh, business BPM, business process management? So business pro BPM solutions are like, uh, a web designer where you would like, you know, you put picture on and it writes HTML in the background. This is very similar, but you're building complex programs, but you don't need to, how to know how to code. You just need to understand. Software kind of works and you use components and you hook everything up. So I did that for five years. We ended up buying that company out. Me and my current business partner in 2015 were kind of burned out on doing that company because we were in the Semantic partner channel and they weren't really supporting our software anymore. And I was like tired of doing these consulting projects where every six months we were building something new for like these business people that were like trying to make their name in the company. And it was horrible. Most of the projects were just kinda like, nah, when we were done, like it was always like, okay, I guess you guys are done. Thanks. And we'll be like, okay, give us our money. So I just wanted to build one thing. So that's when we launched Ops Analytica based off of what I had built at Quiznos. That's how I got here. . Okay. But we have like almost identical backgrounds. Really, I de, I decided two weeks before the deadline that I was gonna do my MBA and I had to go write my GMAT and I just, I think I studied for like a week for my GMAT, which was really interesting. Yeah. And then I, uh, my software company started because there was an opportunity with GAP that we saw and I built like in a forms based, you know, solution. And then it turned into a big software platform. And then, uh, I used to do BPM. So here we are. We're in the same, we're in the same. Oh my gosh. Same space we ended up in That's hilarious. So I had like, it was just like a crime in America that I went to, like University of Denver, which is a really good private school. And I got out of there without ha with the worst grammar ever. Like I went to two colleges, high school, had horrible grammar the whole way through. And then, so I had to teach myself grammar and seventh grade geometry so I could pass that stupid GMAT. Cause I didn't remember any of that . Cause I was like 35 at that point, like 33 when I went to grad school. So I had been outta school for 10 years, just driving around the country telling jokes. As a matter of fact, I did a week at the Albuquerque. Laughs, Albuquerque, which I don't think is there anymore. And I got like a room at the Hyatt cuz it was 45 bucks a day on Priceline. And I sat in the Hyatt and I did GMAT studying from like six in the morning till Showtime would go do my shows. Then I would come home and just study so I could pass that stupid thing. I don't even think I studied that much. I'm like, I'll read a few books, whatever, I was terrified cause I, it was the most stressful thing I've ever done. Three hours and it's all computer graded. Yeah. So you get to the end of this stupid test, you're already stressed out. I knew I, uh, nearly flunked the math part cuz I got, like, I spent way too much time. Answering the question, so I missed like six of them. And so you get to the end and they're like, so do you wanna share your grades with the school that you've applied for? We're not gonna tell you what your grades are yet, but we're, but do you wanna share them? And I'm like, I don't, I don't know if I do, I probably not, but I guess so. Cuz you know, there's two weeks until the, the program starts and of course I like got the 30th percentile. In the, in the, in the Math star stuff and then like 98 percentile in all the rest of them. And the school was like, I guess you can come in, like, what happened here? So they made me take this like remedial math course ah, for a semester before the program started. And even that, it was a dismal and they're just like, okay, come on in. Whatever I got. The GMAT was harder than grad school. Oh my gosh. Way harder. Yeah, way harder because of the time. Yeah. Yeah. Grad school was actually wonderful. I did it full-time. I don't know if you were able to do that too. I did too. Yeah. That was such a nice little, like two year re reliving college, but doing it the right way, you know, like, whereas in undergrad you just drank your way through it this way. You only drank on Thursdays and like, you know. No, I think I drank more in my grad school than I did in my undergrad. That's awesome. . But wait, wait, wait. I get the software piece, I get like that story, but what's happening with the jokes? Did they go away? Are you still joking? You know, in two I, I did call me through 2007 and then I went to work after grad school at the comedy club. and then I got laid off from there. But just because it was like we're building a new club and kind of ran out of money construction, loan Bs craziness, which was fine because I needed to get, like, I needed to get out of that world. And so I got this job at Quiznos like a month later, and then I was like, I'm gonna be a director. And I just worked my butt off and then I kind of got out of the loop for a year or so and then all of a sudden I had kids and then, you know, and then all of a sudden, one day I woke up and it was 12 years had gone by and I hadn't really done any standup. And then in 2019, I said, okay, I'm gonna do it again. So January, 2019, I started going out, but like, so I was like, so I live in Denver area, so I was like a, uh, I was on the list of the Comedy Works, which is like the club in Denver. It's where Chappelle came. It's where Dennis Miller used to come. Like these are the biggest names come into that club. Chappelle comes all the time when he wants to work on new material. And I've for Dave a couple of times, very nice person, but like, So I did just want to go back to the club and just suck cuz I hadn't done it in 12 years. And also by the way, in 12 years, the entire world changed when it came to jokes. And this is before Me Too and everything else that happened that was crazy. So like I knew my jokes like didn't really match anymore because I wrote all my jokes when I was single before kids and I was broke. And now I had this whole other like life experience. So I was trying to rewrite my act. And I was going to open mics and I only could go one night a week cuz I have two young kids. So I was constantly like, I'd go one night a week, come home at like, leave at like seven, come home at one and open my comedy. Sucks the worst but you get through it when you're young cuz all your friends are there and it's fun. Well I this 50 year old dude with a great beard and everybody else is like talking about driving Ubers and you know, doing drugs and I'm coming in one night a week and just tanking. For like six months until swim team started, and then I just stopped and then I went. End of the year, 2019, me and a buddy of mine hooked up. We started doing it again, and then of course the pandemic hits and I'm like, nah. So I haven't gone back. I think when I like exit this business and I get like, or the kids get a little bit older, like when the kids are like, can someone can drive them the practices and whatnot, then I'll be able to like maybe go back out and try again. So is that, is that the, is that the long-term vision an exit? At some point? Obviously. I mean, you. The way the software industry works, obviously, right? Like you only get like, I don't know that I could grow this to be Google sized without money because we're bootstrapped. And so eventually, I mean, I get calls all the kind from private equity funds, you know, and eventually we're gonna get to a number where a bigger company is just gonna want to buy us because they just want the tech stack in their stack or something. So I assume, you know, I mean, Google got to be Google before. When people were just investing and it wasn't just grow by acquisition, you know? So I think like, I mean, I'd love to get as big as Google, obviously, and make billions of dollars and go get a boat somewhere. That's a different world though, right? Oh, it's miserable. It sounds your lifestyle changes, and I think that's one of the things, like we've bootstrapped our software company too, and I work with a venture capitalist right now, and we're building a whole business just for bootstrapped. Businesses to find their way to an exit. Yeah. And particularly sas SaaS businesses. And so there's like this whole other world that once you take on money, yeah. It's ru it ruined it. The business, the business changes. And I think we made a very conscious decision not to do that because it was our, you know, we loved the business as it was and we grew kind of organically. So what's that looking for like for you now? So who are the, who are your customers and, and what is growth looking like for you? So, okay, so I agree with you completely about the money and I have a buddy of my name's, a C F O and he, he took one, his other company, which he kind of built with the guy, they did five transactions over like five year period. And now that business is up to a billion dollars. This is a great story, but then he went to another private equity backed company. And was there for like 18 months and just couldn't take it anymore and quit. And he's very well off now, whatever, but he's told me repeatedly, do not take a penny until you absolutely. Have to, but try never to do it because he's like, they will, they'll dilute you and exit you out within a year or two. And he's like, it's just not worth the pressure and the pain and like what, you know, from owning your own business and bootstrapping it is that it's wonderful not to have a boss. You know? It's wonderful. Like, yeah, you gotta make some crappy decisions sometimes, and it can be hard, but in general. Like, it's really nice just to be able to go, I'm gonna do this and tell you an entrepreneur. And there's actually a ton of value in that. And I think that's what's changing in the face of business these days in entrepreneurship, is that we're recognizing the incredible quality of life we get from, you know, you think of quality of life and entrepreneurship in these sort of more traditional view of it. And it's like, no, no, you have no quality of life. All you do is. That's shifting. I think we're recognizing that entrepreneurship actually gives us the, the reason I started my first business was so that I could pick my kids up from school. I had no idea who their teachers were, the, the friends they would talk about. And, and because I would come home so late, I live, you know, an hour from the city and so it would be three hours of driving every day and then come home late, and you never get that chance to interact with your kids. So there's so much more to the decisions we make about entrepreneurship and our businesses now. other than just what's gonna bring us money. Yep. And I, I will say, So going, I'm gonna answer your question then I want to come back, circle back to this because you, you wanted the real deal. So like our plan right now is, so this was last year. At the end of last year, right around this time, we sold a deal and that deal was big enough and not huge, but big enough that we could hire two new employees at the beginning of this year. So up until last year, we were at four employees. This year we're already at 12, so we hired another sales guy and another developer January timeframe. 2022, and then we had these two sales guys going, and then our original sales guy ended up leaving at the end of April. He wanted to go do something else, and that was one of those exits where I was like, Torn because he was the kind of sales guy that one quarter you'd be like, you're the greatest sales guy ever. And then the next quarter you'd be like, we gotta fire with this guy. He ain't doing anything. And it was always very up and down with him. And so when he left, I wasn't like that upset. I was like, okay. Then we had this other sales guy, cuz you're talking about growth. And he showed us the, his biggest gift to us was he showed us the level of activity you needed to do outbound to get a consistent sales going. And that was the last piece of this puzzle that up until really this last summer, I didn't really understand for our company. He showed us what that looked like. Then we hired a salesman to replace the first guy, and then the same week that dude quit our, our second guy quit. I. What he got a job with a friend doing some, like selling old software. I don't services, something like that. That really kicked us in the gut. I mean, it, it just stopped our outbound because we, he was like a, like a solo act kind of dude, and we were in the process of adding more sales guys and putting in an S D R team. And so our pipeline just stopped because we had a new guy that had been there for a week. And you as anybody who knows if you have SaaS sales, A sales guy takes six months minimum to start to get a pipeline together just of constant outreach. So, you know, we were really trending, like we were just closing deals every single week, and then all of a sudden it just stopped in like mid-August. So now we have two, uh, enterprise reps and three SDRs, and they're all new and they're all working. And I mean, obviously this time of year, if you don't have a pipeline right now, the best you can do is hope to set meetings for January and just try to get through the end of the year. So I am hopeful for next year that we will hit the ground running as everybody's been here for a couple months and we should have a nice pipeline going. Um, and our goal was to. By the end of next year to have eight to 10 outbound salesperson team that were all at a point where they had a pipeline and they were moving, right? So that in 24 we could have just a epic year. So I think that's our plan right now is to just keep adding salespeople in next year too, as these guys start closing more deals. Because we don't have like debt and we don't have any equity. We're not sitting on a billion dollars from somebody else's money. We have to close deals to hire new people. So that, that requires a massive amount of patience. Um, and just, you know, you just gotta stay focused, I guess. So that. That was the plan to grow the business. It's just 10 outbound people with a real, with a realistic quota that we take really good care of so that they just keep closing deals. Cuz we're still small enough that like, you know, if we were to add a million a year or something, it would mean something to the business. You know, we're not like, you know, Google, we're a millions like a trap in the bucket. Yeah. Well, and I think, I think that there's two important things there, right? . The first one is that this is the model that works for your company for SaaS based business. What I don't want is someone to listen to this and say, oh, so I'd better hire an outbound sales team for my business because I know I have a, like a high ticket, high end. Business consulting practice, and we don't even hire salespeople. It's all consultative selling. And I, I like, we, we, uh, reward our consultants for new business development because, no advice, and we've learned this from the past. I send a, uh, a salesperson into one of these consulting clients. They're like, never let, and that this has happened. They're like, never let that person back in my space. So that's one business model. Yeah. I'm with you on my, on my software company. , if I wanna grow this, I need what you've just described. And that's what we haven't had yet. And I know this industry could be penetrated through a team of outbounds, even just one. Yeah. And salesperson that we've been bootstrapping and just doing it ourselves. And it would be like lighting a a, a match on dry tender. Yep. And you know, it's interesting because when we started, we had no money, right? Like we each basically had about $80,000 that we needed to live off of in the first year and use to start the company. And so we did sales ourselves and we followed Ryan Dice's the um, the machine. And we have, uh, we used like Infusionsoft, which is now keep. Yep. And we automated the crap outta everything. And it took us, at the first couple of years, it was me and my business partner and we literally just divided. We didn't even divide and conquer at that point. We both did everything. So we both had our sales pipeline and we were both emailing and calling and we had automated. To the nth degree because we were B P M people, we knew how to build these like workflows within the Infusionsoft. So everything was like, you could just apply a tag to a person and it would send them a voicemail or a text or an email, or have a call task for you. And what we realized probably around 2017, going into 2018, cuz I think we hired our first sales guy in 2018, was it just wasn't working because we were having these huge peaks and valleys because you would sell a deal and then you had to go implement that deal and then you weren't selling for a while. And then between the two of us, we were probably only selling about 40 hours a week. And we were just like, by 2018 we had, we had cobbled together enough revenue where we could say, okay. We really just need a guy who's full-time doing this. And that's where we got to in that point. And then we finally went out and got a guy to come in and start selling full-time. And that really did do change the business. We always had a transition period in the middle there where we, we, instead of this, both of us sharing every task. I became the implementation development guy that got everybody set up and my business partner became the marketing and sales guy and like accounting guy. Um, and so then it was like he could sell a deal and then I could implement it. And so there was always constant activity going out. And then when our sales guy came on, then he became our total outbound and we could just focus on the business. But going back to what you said earlier too, You know, I, I would be remiss if I didn't tell the truth, which is that for the first couple of years, like we weren't a unicorn, like, like 18 months into this thing, we were making $1,600 a month in revenue. Like, because when we started this thing, Like we had this, like we knew that day, like checklists, especially in restaurants and, and that's where we started. Our brand was in restaurants. Cuz I had the restaurant experience and I had run the audit program at Quiznos so we could talk restaurants when we started this thing. Like, I was like, oh yeah, and what we real like this is exactly what people need and want. But then for the, literally the first four years we would talk to people all the time and we got customers during that time and we, we got up to a reasonable amount of revenue, but. There were years where we didn't make a paycheck, literally years, and if my wife didn't work and have a good job, and if Eric's wife didn't work and have a good job, this company would've stopped at the end of year one. Um, so thank God to the wives, right? Uh, for not kicking us out and for putting up with this, why we were voting this thing out. Um, but, you know, we were looking like 1600 bucks a month in like May of 2016. And then our biggest client, a $500 a month client quit. And I remember Eric was like, oh no. Oh no. Like he was about to cry. And I was like, oh my God, you. Like, cuz that stuff's hard because it wasn't like we were working 40 hours a week and just all happy. I mean, you're like literally sitting at home going, I'm not contributing. This has gotta work. I know this can work. But it wasn't working. And it was like, you know, and the only reason we stayed in is cuz after that, like downturn, we just saw the numbers ticking up and they were minute, but they were always had it going in the right direction, you know? And we were able luckily to like get feedback and fix things and then, you know, and it just takes a couple of. So there were years where we didn't make any money. I just wanna make sure everyone's clear on that. And I'm not making a billion, like I'm not making what I would make if I work somewhere else today, but I know I will very soon so I can, I can keep holding on. The other thing was, and this is the double-edged sword of that whole deal, thank God nobody was buying the platform during those first couple of years too. Right? Thank God it was so hard to get meetings and so hard for to sell the thing. It wasn't really until like April of 2017 when we added schedules that we really started to get some traction cuz we were doing something unique at that point that people were like, oh, this is interesting, but. You know, when we started to really get meetings, which were in 2019, real meetings, real chances to sell some real deals, the platform was good. And had we gotten that kind of attention in 2015, we would've been laughed out of the room and then they would've never come back. So everything happens for a reason, but you know, Tell that to Tommy in 2016 at Christmastime, who has no money and is just like, oh, I'm gonna die. You're not with a heart attack, . So, well, I mean, so that begs the Because here's what happens, right? And I know you know this, that a lot of business owners have these expectations and, and very reasonably have, you know, financial needs that need to be met. But a lot of people will give up. Oh yeah. So here's why I didn't give up. Uh, so I thought, just by the way, I don't think we've even hit our original conservative projections that we did in 2014, just saying, because that's how we got our developer to come on. And I, and I go like, these are our, what we think's gonna happen. And this is like our conservative, but I don't know that we've actually hit our conservative yet, which is funny. I need to check that out. So here's why I didn't. Number one was I quit standup 12 years into my business, and so the when my last year at com, I worked at Comedy Works, the club. I worked for Comedy Works Entertainment, and we produced concerts. That was mainly like eight 50 an hour. I worked in this dingy basement underneath the kitchen of the Capital Grill. On Larimer Square. So every day I would hear them drop food and ice on the floor and we would go into this basement with no windows and we would work all day, like promoting concerts. And we managed this comedian named Josh Blue, um, who he just won like America's Got Talent, or it was like number two last summer and won, you know, last whatever we would produce concert stuff. Two of the guys that were in my office there, right. I was further along in my standup career than they were like at that time. Then I went to grad school and got my jobs and did all that. Those guys within like two years, they kind of flipped how people did standup. They got a television show called Those Who Can't, and they are basically like ought to think. They did a television show and I remember like going, they were sort of behind me when I was doing standup at that time, and then I quit and then they blew by me like 10000%, you know? And I just remember going. Had I not quit, what could have potentially happened? Even if I had just worked a day job and did comedy at night, I could have still been in the loop. You know? So I really like that really hit home for me, like as a personal lesson. Like, nothing's gonna happen if you stop doing it. You just gotta keep going. Right? So that was one of the main reasons. And then the second reason was we were making. Glacial progress forward For years, it wasn't rapid. I mean, we've never had a time where we were just rocket ship flying outta the, the solar system for any like prolonged time. We've just been grinding, grinding, grinding. But I could look at the numbers and go, we ticked up and these people were using it, and we just added that feature that people said they needed. And so I felt. We were making progress even though it was tiny. Now, having said all of that, if I didn't have a wife who was making great money, we, this would've been over eight months after it started because I. Like, you know, here's a lesson too. Developers cannot tell you how long anything is going to take and whatever they say to you, you should smack their dirty lying mouths because they are at least half to not three or four times off what it's actually gonna take. And that was me too. It depends how I will, I will say yes for the most part. Yeah. Uh, my two business partners I've been working with for 20, 20 years, and they're older than me, so we're all like, you know, around the fifties ish. Sure. And those guys, like, I don't question anything and they always deliver exactly to what they've estimated. It just has become a thing good for that. And so, like, you know, and, but, and so, but I find myself having to defend estimates. To clients because they, they, they would like it to be quicker. They would like it to be less money they would like, but I'm like, you know what, there's no, there's no point in me doing that. Like there's, I don't wanna disappoint you. And if you can't afford it and isn't too much money, then that's okay. But I think, you know, what's happened with one client just yesterday is they, they said, you know, we just, it's just. It's, it's more than we expected to spend, but what it's causing us to do is go back to the drawing board and say, well, why, why are we asking for so many requirements for this solution when it, if it's too much to build it, maybe what we're, we're putting too much prioritization on it. Yeah. And so it force, it forces a business conversation and I'm at that point in my career where I don't like, I don't have a reason to try and sell you something you don't need and try to sell you something that we're just gonna end up going over on, because I tried to make it cheaper for you. Yeah. Well, and you know, in our world, everything just takes so long because we're coding it from scratch, right? And we are not using any platforms and like, it just takes what it takes and it's like, yeah, that's just what it is because the human brain cannot. . You can look at software like development criteria at a 30,000 foot level, but you then, when you start to actually build it, you realize, well, to do with that thing that you wanted. We made a decision six years ago to make this a date time with an offset when it needs to do a date time, so now I have to convert that to this other thing. And so all those little like, yeah, you just, you can only see. At a 30,000 foot level, and it's when you get into the details, that's where these projects go so long because you made a decision that was dumb or whatever, and now you have to deal with it now. So it all comes, you know, it all comes to fruition and like development just takes so much longer than you expect. and in the first year he said six months, and then in 11 months I had been developing for four months with him and we still were at like basically a beta level platform, you know? So it's just, I've had to learn to become way more patient. And by the way, I made the same mistakes when we were running those projects at. Our previous company because you just can't visualize how many details there are that have to be addressed in this development. And our developer's amazing because he's the kind of developer where you go, Hey, I need a, like, we need to have some sort of logic in there. And then he develops an entire rule builder. So he's the kind of developer where you can literally just say, I need a high. English sentence versus having to scope out Yeah. Every single decision, which takes months to do, you know? Yeah. And I, I believe over time, like in, you know, software companies are unique in that regard because you have a team that's trying to translate things and you, you start to learn. Each other's vernacular and you start to learn each, you know, where I, I know where I need to be extra detailed and specific about requirements versus where I can assume, and we can all assume that, you know, certain things are a given. Um, we're coming up on time. I have a question that I ask everyone. I told you I was a I know, I know. Well, I, and we could probably talk for like another hour, but Yeah. I have a question I ask everybody because this show is all about being real. , um, what's the difference between what we hear and see out there in the business world and what's actually real? So, I see it all the time on LinkedIn. It, it's p Public relations, it's PR people who raise money or people who are like, you know, there's a lot of PR going on out there, especially on LinkedIn. Oh, we closed this or we did that, or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. People are trying to put this massive persona out that they're so successful. And then, and, and sometimes they are, sometimes they're not, you know, but there's this, there's a giant marketing message that's being put out there. Buy these businesses, and they have their own reasons for doing that. One might be that they think they can attract clients because they are so successful and they're always in the news. You know what I mean? Some of it is they're trying to attract investors, right? So that they can raise more money to stay open. Some of them are trying to shine their current investors by just, Hey, look at all the amazing things we're. Uh, I don't have time to do any of that. Like, I have to work every day . And so like, uh, so I think like, you just gotta cut, you know? You just got to look past like, so, like so many of these, I'll give you an example. We were, we paid $2,500 in 2019 to be on a list of top 10 technological innovations that went out to 75,000 people around the, uh, around the world, you know, or a hundred thousand people, whatever. And they did a bio on us and they had a picture and they, you know, the whole thing. It didn't it. And so we were in 2019, a top 10 new technology firm. It didn't get us a single lead. Didn't generate any sales, but I can hang my, I have a, like an icon I can show people. I'm a top 10 business. There's an entire world out there marketing these companies for a lot of different reasons. Not always to their end customers. And that's what's happening out there. And you've gotta look through the social media bs. It's the same thing as somebody. Taking a selfie on, you know, taking a selfie with a selfie stick. Oh look, I'm just relaxing at the restaurant. It's exactly the same social media thing. It's just happening on LinkedIn. Right? And you know, if you're successful as a business, I think what people are gonna see is you're gonna get testimonials. You're gonna have people using your product. You're gonna start hearing about, you're gonna start hearing about this company. You know, through peers and competitors, you know, you're gonna start, they're, they're gonna just start organically showing up in your world through word of mouth and through Oh, did you, we use them at that place. That kind of stuff. I think that's kind of it. Like, I just think there's a lot of marketing going on right now and, um, you know, you don't know who to believe. You know, it's the show to, you know, we had a, we had a hypothesis when we started this software company that we're, we're dealing with a market that is a me too industry. And so one guy does it, the others do it. And we've never marketed, we've never done any marketing, nothing. And we've just grown organically from, because it's a specific solution for a specific industry and it's a very core process for these. These customers. And so it's been, you know, it's been kind of an experiment, how, how far can we grow without ever doing any marketing. And I think those are actually like the best tech products is when somebody worked in a big company and they were like, this is a real problem, we gotta solve this. And they couldn't find any solution out there. And then the guy goes, I'm leaving. Goes out, gets an investor. Cause in that world you can go. You know, we would've spent 5 million fixing this problem right here, cuz it costs us 10 million. Any investor who's got half a brain would go, you already know that this is a problem. You know the solution and you know what you were willing to pay for it. Here's 5 million bucks. Go build it. Like there's a new product, oh my gosh, I'm gonna forget their name. They're huge in the restaurant space cuz they solved a very simple problem, which was that all the delivery. Companies had tablets. So if you had like Uber Eats and Postmates and uh, uh, DoorDash and GrubHub, you had four separate tablets on your counter. They were all coming in. None of 'em were synced to your register. And it was squashing these restaurants cuz they would get 30 orders. They had a busy kitchen, they couldn't turn 'em off. People would forget. And uh, this guy just came out and solved that one thing. He just put 'em all in one tablet, stuck it in the register, and he made a billion dollar, you know, it's a billion dollar. That's a uniform, you know? Yeah. Those are great businesses and they're not sexy. Nobody goes, oh no, my business not sexy responsibility thing. You know, that's like this weird calculation and they made a billion bucks because the insurance companies were like, oh my God. Yeah, we're a data management platform. Right, exactly. But there's very specific, there's very specific problems that we solve and we've been doing it for 12 years. Yeah. Okay. We are up at time. Thank you so much for sharing with us today and being part of the interview. Can you tell the listeners where they can find you? Sure. I'm on LinkedIn, or you can come to opsanalytica.com. Ops A N A L I T I C a.com and just chat me. I'm dying to talk to people, so please reach out to me on LinkedIn. Part of my job now is to find new, interesting use cases. For the platform. So if you are going, you're sitting in your business and you're going, I don't know how we're gonna solve this. I don't know how we're gonna collect data or hold these people accountable or get better customer satisfaction, or whatever it might be, and you're just like trying to talk through it in your own mind, talk through it with me for 30 minutes and let's just figure it out because if I can help you. that's great. Then I have a new vertical I can sell into and if I can't help you, like I am like a process expert, like I'm doing process for 12 years now and like, you know, I can help you figure stuff out and I can help you find other tools if my tool's not the right one. So please reach out to me or email me. I don't care. Whatever you want to do, I'll give you all that transac. All right, well, I'm gonna hit you up on LinkedIn because we're twinsies and I've got more to talk about with you after having this conversation, but we're gonna wrap it. I'm so happy that we had the opportunity to chat with Tommy today to hear more about his business and how it came to be, his experiences along the way, and what the future of the business entails. And thanks so much for tuning into this episode of The Real People Real Business Show, where we get the real entrepreneurial stories and journeys that you can relate to the show notes, resources and links from this episode are available on my website and social media platforms. Thanks for joining us today. If you've enjoyed today's content, I'd love for you to give us a review on whatever platform you're on to help us share these genuine stories with an even bigger audience. Until next time, keep building. Keep dreaming and keep being real.

Tommy YionoulisProfile Photo

Tommy Yionoulis


Tommy has been in the restaurant industry for nearly his entire adult life. He has a BSBA from University of Denver’s Hotel Restaurant school in addition to an MBA.

This former stand-up comic turned SaaS founder, has extensive experience helping businesses become more efficient and profitable through process, accountability, and data. He’s currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica, an Operations Analytics platform that focuses on managing and measuring daily team activities for large multi-unit businesses. Tommy believes that the next big technological disruptor event for many businesses is going to be implementing Operations Management software to shape the future of work and beat our competitors through better, more consistent daily operations.