In the latest instalment of our interviews speaking to leaders throughout the world of tech, we’ve welcomed Steve Dieter, CTO of Arryved.
Tell us about the business you represent, how did the idea come about to found your enterprise? What is the vision?
Arryved is a leading point-of-service provider that provides food- and beverage-based venues with flexible and intuitive technology needed to provide better guest experiences. Our founders came up with the idea for Arryved by hanging out at local breweries and noticing how the secret sauce to hospitality was the connection between the breweries and their guests.
Too often the technology that the breweries’ staff were using created barriers to making those connections with guests. The Arryved vision is a flexible service model that can be adapted as needed to allow our customers to connect with their guests in a variety of ways.
What was it like being a Senior Staff Software Engineer at Google?
My engineering and leadership capabilities greatly expanded during my time at Google. Their entire mindset is to think big and push existing technological boundaries, and all their systems are tuned with an eye toward scalability.
It also helped that I was involved with several projects I had a keen interest in, including Google Wallet, Google Play Gift Cards and Google Street View. Overall the experience was amazing.
What notable IT challenges have you overcome?
At Arryved, we strive to protect our customers from events that can disrupt their ability to operate. One feature we provide is that we abstract away the details of payment processing.
If a downstream payment processor or card network has a service disruption, we have the ability to store and replay those card transactions, allowing our customers to continue making payments when other establishments might have to move back to cash-only during that time. We also support the ability for our customers to work in offline mode for a limited time if they are experiencing network issues at their site. When payment processing outages recently happened nationwide in the US, we were able to keep our customers operating while many competitors were not.
How has your business adapted during the Covid-19 pandemic?
I joined Arryved right at the start of the pandemic. Because we are in the hospitality industry, there was a real concern that our customers would have to close their doors. Pre-pandemic, the industry and our company were centered around the on-premise service model.
I'm proud that our whole team made a quick pivot to meet the needs of the hospitality industry during this time and we built online store capability to support pickup, curbside, and delivery, and to integrate seamlessly with our on-premise service systems. Many of our customers were able to keep their doors open by switching to off-premise sales and creating new revenue streams with these new features.
What are your plans to expand your service?
It's really about doing more of what we do best -- partnering with existing customers, listening to potential ones, and building out the functionality needed to grow. We want to do this within our existing wheelhouse -- craft -- but also in adjacent markets where true hospitality is the focus.
It's how we started, and why we continue to have such strong retention. We firmly believe we succeed through our customers' success, and we try to let that show through everything we do.
Being the CTO, what do your day to day responsibilities look like?
Our workday always starts with an all-hands stand-up, to discuss anything that came up from the day before as well as to get status updates or general information about some part of the company. The engineering team then follows that up with its own stand-up.
It's a terrific way to stay focused on what's important. I often have business strategy and product meetings, as well as several-times-a-week design review sessions to participate in. When possible, I sit in on customer sessions where we discuss specific features we are working on or testing out. And at the end of the day, we have another engineering meeting where we get to look at demos of what the team has just accomplished.
What advice would you give aspiring CTOs and entrepreneurs?
Stay focused, make sure everyone understands what your north star is, and listen to your customers. On the technology side, measure everything, and don't be afraid to throw something out if it's not working.
How has payment technology changed in the last twenty years from your perspective?
Payments were generally stagnant for a long time. It was cash, checks, and then credit cards. Nothing really changed -- even when online banking came around it wasn't a radical change.
A number of innovations that have been around elsewhere, such as immediate funds transfers, are slowly making their way to the U.S. But the biggest change has been the ability to pay from a variety of devices and technologies -- NFC, tokenized cards, various form factors (phone, watch, card tap), etc.
What new challenges are CTOs facing today?
We were already moving down this path, but the pandemic accelerated the idea of remote work, which often means more personal devices than ever before. So you're managing the technology for remote work (video, collaboration, etc), as well as the devices and profiles.
Many companies have pushed forward and done great things here -- but I do think it will be a challenge to work through what the "new normal" is over the next 1-2 years.
What do you see as the hottest trends within your industry today?
One thing I find interesting is the effect social media / streaming is having. The rise of non-celebrity influencers is making a real difference for a number of companies in terms of how they engage with their customers.
What can we hope to see from your business in the future?
When I think about our founders' original vision -- connecting our customers to their guests in a meaningful way -- we have done a lot of work, but there is still so much we want to do in this area.
Hospitality is about connecting people, and we have a lot of ideas we just can't wait to start testing out. The real test for us in the future will be how far we can push ahead to make this vision a reality, both in craft and in other markets.
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