STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: How About a Side of Data With That Burger? | Kansas City

Mark Calhoun, CEO, PERFECTCUBE, contributor

By September 20, 2017, 6:15 pm EDT

    Imagine a typical Sunday: you go to your local grocery store, get sticker shock from the price of avocados, go home and have a kale smoothie (what, that’s not your typical Sunday?). Whatever your taste, have you ever considered the retail process that brought those goods to you? Mark Calhoun, the CEO, of PerfectCube, definitely has. PerfectCube is “an online platform that allows small retailers to easily track their performance and even forecast the near future.” It’s basically the Neo to every small grocery stores’ Matrix, allowing them to have the analytical capabilities of much larger chains. “PerfectCube can assess what hours of the day have the highest sales and which individual products sold fastest, not just today, but last week, last month and last year.”

    How big is the problem? “If measured separately, USA food retail would be the 9th largest economy in the world; it’s projected to grow from $800 billion in sales in 2017 to over $1 trillion in 2020.” And 1 in 10 jobs in the USA are in food based retail, which is the market that PerfectCube impacts. It’s a pretty impressive product in a very important market, and Prab, Techweek’s Head of Media, was fortunate enough to sit down with Mark to learn more. Read on, hungry ones…

    • Prab: Tell us a little about your company today.

      Mark: PerfectCube helps food retailers operate efficiently by giving them actionable information from the data they already generate. PerfectCube helps create a more stable, predictable working and operating environment that means happier employees and owners.

    • Prab: What is the hair on fire problem you address?

      Mark: Food retailers account for 10% of USA jobs but have little room for error with thin operating margins. Rapid, easy to understand data analysis can solve this problem and help retailers be successful but current solutions are difficult and expensive. PerfectCube is the answer.

    • Prab: How did you discover this problem and why did you tackle it?

      Mark: We experienced the problem because we were food retailers. We also previously started a financial data analysis company that we sold to Charles Schwab. We knew that data could solve our challenges but an affordable system wasn’t available so we built our own.

    • Prab: What’s the size of the problem? How big is this industry?

      Mark: Food retail is an $800 billion industry currently and will exceed $1 trillion in a few years. It accounts for 10% of the USA workforce and is the first job for most people.

    • Prab: What are the important trends that will shake up this industry? What will the industry look like in 5 or 10 years?

      Mark: Automation and wage pressure is threatening jobs with many analysts predicting job growth will shrink in food retail. PerfectCube is trying to save those jobs by helping retailers manage them efficiently.

    • Prab: How crowded is the space? What’s your competitive advantage behind your product or service that you believe makes it a winner?

      Mark: Our competitive advantage is that our founders understand and have experience as retailers and with big data. There are few competitors addressing this market space and none with the same experience.

    • Prab: Who are your customers and how do you make money?

      Mark: PerfectCube works with food retailers which today includes fast food, pizza, coffee and frozen dessert. We are a location based SaaS model.

    • Prab: How do you attract customers, and how well has it gone? How did you acquire your first customer?

      Mark: PerfectCube customers can sign up direct through our website. We’ve spread by word-of-mouth, trade shows and direct sales. Our first customer knew our founders from their retail experience, saw the product they were using in their own stores and signed up.

    • Prab: Tell us about raising capital – have you raised? What was the experience like? What did you learn?

      Mark: PerfectCube first received a Digital Sandbox grant that helped develop our first released product and lead to private angel investments. We’ve received additional funding as a LaunchKC 2016 grant recipient. Raising capital is a process that requires persistence, listening to investors and forming relationships. Most investors we talk with aren’t going to be an immediate fit but it’s still great to get to know them and develop the relationship.

    • Prab: Tell us about you – why are you the perfect CEO for this company?

      Mark: Our founders have unique experience in both food retail and data analytics. They’ve built successful companies previously and are solving a problem they’ve personally experienced.

    • Prab: How many people are employed by you today? Are you hiring – if so who should apply?

      Mark: We have 5 employees with a few other contractors. We are always seeking to talk with people skilled in data analytics and data science.

    • Prab: Nice! Three words to describe the company culture?

      Mark: Fluid. Enterprising. Idiosyncratic.

    • Prab: I love that the word “idiosyncratic” is idiosyncratic itself. What would be your company’s mascot?

      Mark: A gorilla (long story)

    • Prab: Hey no fair! We want to hear it.

      Mark: