9 Questions for Tripleseat’s CEO and Founder Jonathan Morse
Typically our Founder and CEO Jonathan (Jono) Morse like to keep his stories to just friends and family, but we convinced him to answer some questions on Tripleseat and some personal info too!
1. Let’s start with the obvious question. Why did you start Tripleseat?
My background has always been in hospitality, whether being a busboy at my local pizza place or VP of Sales and Catering for a huge hotel chain, my roots have been in restaurants and hotels. The short version of why I started Tripleseat is that in 2008 after a poorly-executed private event, I was told that restaurant event managers do not use any software because it was too expensive or complicated. I did some research and it is true that close to 85% of restaurants and unique venues used paper and pen at the time. I set out to fix that problem.
2. Are you a developer? How did you know what to build?
I am not a developer, even though I won a computer award in high school (true story, I have the trophy to prove it) I found my Co-Founder, Kevin Zink, basically by going online and researching “developer.” We hit it off right away. He is a super-talented developer and understood my vision from the jump. I knew what to build and, more importantly, how it should flow from my experiences as a Catering Sales Manager for Starwood Hotels. I knew the software had to be web-based so people could access it from anywhere, and it would allow people to cross-book their sister restaurants. I also wanted it to be simple to use, but at the same time have the features everyone needed like an online event calendar, banquet event orders, proposals, eSignatures, autotasks, and deep reporting.
3. Is it true that you tested Tripleseat with your mom?
It is true! My mom at the time was in her early 80s and still used AOL. I thought “Here is someone who is clueless about technology, and if she can make a booking in Tripleseat, anyone can.” We would give her the details of a booking and watch her try to enter it into Tripleseat. Wherever she got stuck, we would fix it. We would go through this process until she could do it without stopping for questions. I always say Tripleseat is mom-tested and mom-approved.
4. Who were Tripleseat’s first customers?
When we had just the basics of Tripleseat, I hopped into my car and drove to Boston. I walked into Davio’s Italian Steakhouse because I could see their private event rooms from the street, and asked for their event manager. When the event manager came out, I immediately went into my pitch of how I invented online event management software and how Tripleseat can streamline the planning process. She agreed to see it and 30 minutes later, I had my first customer. Davios now has 10 restaurants and they are still a customer of ours. We have kind of grown up together.
5. Where is Tripleseat today?
Yeah, so fast forward a few years and now we have over 5,000 restaurants, hotels, and unique venues and over 40,000 users. The company has grown from me working in a closet (it was literally a closet) to have over 70 employees. It is pretty amazing to see my vision of providing an online event and sales tool become the hospitality industry standard.
6. Talk to me about your employees at Tripleseat.
My employees are awesome. A lot of them have been working for Tripleseat from the beginning. Close to 90% of them come from the restaurant world just like me. I have general managers, event sales managers, and operation managers that bring hundreds and hundreds of years of experience in every aspect of the restaurant and hotel business. Their knowledge is really the driving force behind why Tripleseat is as great as it is. Simply put, they just get it.
7. What keeps you up at night?
To be honest, what keeps me up at night is all the new event software companies that have popped up since I started Tripleseat. When you have has as much success as Tripleseat is having, it is common to have competition. I don’t mind the competition; what really upsets me is that the software is so terrible. These companies do not share the same vision I have, which is to provide an easy-to-use event application so restaurants can move off of paper and pen and grow their business. These new companies are just ripping off Tripleseat and doing a terrible job at it. I feel bad for the restaurants and event managers that use it.
8. What is your superpower?
I actually have two superpowers. First, because of Tripleseat, I am walking encyclopedia of restaurants. I can go into any town in the US and know where to go to get a great meal. I get asked all the time where to go for a great dinner or event. I usually tell people to go to our venue directory site, VENUES, and pick any place. They will not be disappointed. My second superpower is something I have to be very careful with. If there is a bank of elevators and I am waiting, the elevator door will always open in front of me. Happens. Every. Time.
9. Last question, why do they call you Jono?
That is a secret only a few people know. I have been called Jono since I was two. When people call me Jonathan, I always think I am in trouble.