Jamie Michael Hemmings had the pleasure of interviewing Serge Amouzou. Serge is the Founder and CEO of Delect Technologies LLC, a company that improves the interaction between restaurants and consumers. Serge relocated to Birmingham, Alabama from Washington, DC where he is growing his company. In 2017, Serge was named Birmingham Business Journal CEO of the year in the Rising Stars Category.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’m the Founder and CEO of Delect Technologies, LLC. Delect provides a platform for digital transaction in restaurants. I’m an entrepreneur from Togo, West Africa. I started my first company at the age of 14 building websites and doing marketing campaigns for parents of my friends who were starting businesses. In the 5 years that the company existed, I worked with clients in the US, Germany, and France. I merged the company with a bigger firm in Alexandria, Virginia in 2014 and in that same year I started Vermeille Brand, a lifestyle brand in the US and Germany.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Frankly, I thought if I work hard, have a strong team, build a product people love, and have revenue in, I’ll be able to go out and raise a couple of millions of dollars and grow the venture. That has never been farther from the truth.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We make restaurant transactions easy. We do it through Artificial Intelligence (AI) that sends offers to consumers. Consumers order ahead and complete their transactions through a personal app. We make it easy for restaurants to personalize their marketing to consumers. We do it through software that enables direct-to-consumer interaction. Our software comes ready with all the point-of-sale functions restaurants use to operate — inventory, payroll, menu management, etc… What makes Delect stand out is that it solves a 50-year old problem in a unique way that enables a two-way interaction.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
The restaurant industry is an $800 billion industry. There is an opportunity to constantly innovate. Ultimately, I want Delect to be at the forefront of innovation in this space through a two-way interaction between restaurants and consumers. As such, I’m actively working on projects to make that vision a reality.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Building a successful company — a company that makes an impact in the world — is hard. To improve the odds of success, it’s incredibly important to give employees the freedom to fail and figure things out quickly. Promote a culture of transparency, constructive feedback, and listen to your employees more than you should. A cohesive team allows your employees to thrive, achieve goals, go beyond expectations, and keep going.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
When I began my first company at the age of 14, my mother was the one who encouraged me to turn my business into a company. The premise was that I wouldn’t be personally liable if someone sued me. I haven’t stopped since.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I live in Birmingham, AL, a growing tech and culinary city. The city is also rampant with homelessness. I’m working with the city to create a program to make the homeless job ready in 90-day. The success of the program could be the framework for moving the homeless to the workforce in other cities in the US.
Can you share the top five lessons that you have learned from your experience as a “Black Man In Tech”?
Lesson #1: I’ve learned that raising money for your venture is hard. As a black man, it’s even harder.
Lesson #2: To give your venture a chance for success, keep your day job, save the majority of your money, work on your project, and quit your job only after you have revenue coming in and/or you have enough to survive on for at least one year.
Lesson #3: As a black man in tech, you’ll find that building a successful company is more than a product, a strong team, and revenue. You’ll find that often, you have to prove your ability to be a successful CEO. Nevertheless, keep going.
Lesson #4: Don’t rely too much on your projections, forecasts, and vision to raise venture capital. Focus on execution.
Lesson #5: I’ve learned that it’s best to focus on serving your customers, learning from their feedback, and iterating on product that will revolutionize an entire industry. The money will come. If not, keep building.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
When no one is watching, you’re the only one who will starve. Trust in yourself and your abilities. Don’t let others tell you what you can or can’t do, at the end of the day, you’re the only one who can feed yourself.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Daymond John. Daymond has built capital efficient businesses. I believe business is a mean that can improve people’s daily lives and change the world through service, whether an app or valet service. I’d enjoy having breakfast/lunch with Daymond because he embodies values which I believe enable a business to have lasting impact.
Originally published at medium.com