Copy of Ep. 5__Truckr_GoX Version.mp3
3:07AM Oct 2, 2019
from Georgetown University, this is venture forward a series of conversations with entrepreneurs in and around Georgetown, in which we discussed the startups they've launched, the obstacles they've encountered, and the small wins that have made all the difference.
Here is your host, Jacki Abbey.
Hannah William started college thinking she would pursue a career as a physical therapist or an athletic trainer. But she soon discovered the path of life is full of twists and turns. She's graduating from Georgetown this spring with a degree in business and planning to work full time for a company she herself is launching. Hannah first notice she had a knack for business when as a sophomore, she started creating and selling humorous political merchandise that became so popular on campus that she could barely keep up with the demand. She's been honing her entrepreneurial skills ever since. Here is Hannah Williams, founder and CEO of trucker. Hannah, welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for having me. You've launched a business called trucker. Yeah. Tell us about that business. And the problem it solves in the marketplace.
Yeah, trucker is a mobile app that's free to download for customers. And what we do is we connect food trucks and customers in large cities. So how we work is we allow customers to find food trucks that are nearby them access their menus, reviews and pictures. And then they place orders directly from the app, and then they go pick it up. And this solves the really big problem of long wait times and like bad weather times to go order food outside. So we're bringing more revenue to food trucks and more convenience to customers.
Great, thanks. What's your business model? And how do you make money?
Yeah, we are a mobile app. So that's our main business model that we're a tech startup. And we make money just by charging food trucks. So it's a business to business revenue model, but it's completely free for customers to download and use.
This is the first business you've ever started.
No, actually, I've had experience launching other businesses. This is my third one so far. So I've launched two other businesses. It was a retail business and then a dog boot business. So kinda like dog animal retail, lunch, both of those. As a Georgetown student, I launched the first two as North Northern Virginia Community College student. So I transferred from NBC to Georgetown, my junior year. And so I launched trucker as a junior in Georgetown,
what drew you to Georgetown?
Definitely all the opportunities, I think I considered largely going to George Mason, first of all, and then I just kind of got it in my head that Georgetown was the place for me just, I wanted to do something with my business degree. And I thought that Georgetown would just give me much more opportunity and more access to resources than any other school would.
Now you're a senior in the business school at Georgetown, EF
graduating in May, I'm so excited. Do you feel like you've been able to tap into the entrepreneurial community and the business? Yeah, I have said, it didn't even take me any effort really to tap into it, it was just there was available, it wasn't hard to find, it was so easy to find people to talk to resources to access. It's been an amazing journey. Like, I feel like I never really had any issues, getting into entrepreneurship at Georgetown, it was just there and available to students and really open to helping everybody out
how they've been helpful to you in particular,
they've connected me with so many resources. I feel like anytime I have a problem, I just asked the ers, which are the entrepreneurs in residence, I asked them for help. And they always have solutions, like really, and it's always something that I think is like, Oh, I can't find anything. I don't know what I'm going to do. And then it over the course of five minutes, they've solved my problem. So you make an appointment with them. And you sit down, you bring your problem to them. Yep, I've created such like close relationships with them that they're just an email away. And they're always eager to help. It's crazy, like I don't know, understand how they do it. That is pretty amazing. Yeah, they're amazing. They're very helpful. They're very friendly. everything they've done for me just has really changed my life. Oh, that's,
that's great. And you've got an international background? I do.
Yeah, I'm a dual citizen. So I was born in Belgium and raised overseas. My parents are diplomats. So I've only been in the US since high school. So it's been almost eight or nine years now.
Did you always know you want to be an entrepreneur,
I always joke that I had no clue that I would be an entrepreneur. I changed my major five times my freshman year. And I guess it helps that I went to community college because that really helped me figure out what I what I hated what I wanted to do. What class by class. Yep. And just based on like the intro classes I took at first I thought I wanted to go into medicine, like I wanted to do like training, physical therapy, that type of stuff. And I realized I was terrible at anatomy. So I wasn't going to get anywhere with that. And then I
thought I could that's often a sign. That means medicine is
not the way to go. Yeah. And then I tried to get into computers. And I just don't have the technical grasp, I don't think to really work with computers in that much detail. And then I turned to business. And it just felt a really natural fit to me, like I grasp everything. Like I just understand all the concepts, and I love them. And I like growing on them.
So was it your first business class or the first business you started where you felt like, Oh, this is a fit?
Definitely the first business I started, I was, I guess, influenced by the presidential election to start my first business, then I wanted to do something that was impactful. That also helped me kind of feel out my feelings about how the election turned out. And so I created a politically cartoon, political cartoon, retail business, those t shirts that had political cartoons on them, and they were fun. And they were really popular on campus. And I, I had just started my business degree at that point. So I didn't really completely grasp business as my major. And then just doing that I learned so much by working directly on my business. And I realized this is what I want. I do
so it was humorous political merchandise. Yep.
And it was super popular on campus. It was it was fun. It was friendly. It was a great experience. And what was the company called? It was called free verse
free verse. Yes. Okay. And what made you decide to get out of that business and move to another business,
I think that I just kind of got my a dip my toe in the water. And I realized I loved it. But I also wanted to move on to other things like I'm I have ideas almost every single day and I write them down and I just moved into my new apartment and me and my boyfriend, we actually made a chalk wall like we painted chalk paint on a wall just so that we have constant access to write ideas down just as they pop into our heads. And so that was kind of the idea was that I did my first business. I thought it was a success, like it was making money. But I wanted to do more. So I ventured away from that I launched my second business called pound booties, which was dog boots. And that one was also a success. I was selling it on Etsy, I was making money, but it wasn't my passion, sell dog boots and sell merchandise. Exactly. It was fun. But it wasn't you know, I didn't want to be a millionaire off selling dog boots. I wanted to do other ideas that I had. And so I was just waiting for the next big idea. And that was trucker.
With your dog boo business. What was what was an obstacle that you encountered unexpectedly?
Oh, definitely trying to find ways to build the merchandise like I I went to Michaels and I just bought all this stuff that I thought I needed to kind of build a prototype craft stuff. Yep, like my MVP, like my, my minimum viable product. And I wanted to build these boots. But I don't know how to sew. I don't know how to put anything together. So they were really rough. And then I had to find a way to build them. And so I went on alibaba. com and I contacted all these vendors. I was like, can you build this for me. And I finally found someone that could and it took a about a month process to really get everything done. I got the money to get a full order. And I got them shipped over here and they were perfect. And then I started selling them. And that was the hardest part. But once that was tackled, it was just going straight from there,
making them was the hardest part yet selling them. No. selling them was no problem at all.
on Etsy. on Etsy, I started marketing them on Instagram, and I just reached out to a bunch of people that own dogs. And they were they loved them. And I got some local dog owners who wanted their dogs to model the product. And yeah, it was great. It was so much fun. I loved it. I was like I could work with dogs for the rest of my life is fun.
Alright, so trucker is a food oriented business. Yes. Do you consider yourself a foodie?
Yeah, in one way or another, I don't really like to cook at home. So I like to go out. And I like to experience a lot of different cuisines like I grew up overseas. So I have a pretty wide palette, I'd say and I'm pretty open to any new cuisine experience. And so food trucks in Washington DC are huge aspect of the foodie culture. And I all my friends go there, I go there, my my family goes there. And it just really branched out from there was that by going to food trucks, which is a huge part of almost every single day of my life. And like my family's life, I realized there was this huge problem that everyone was encountering. And it was that the lines were 30 minutes long. But people go to food trucks during their lunch breaks and their lunch breaks are 30 minutes long. And so I relate a lot to food truck owners like the vendors, because a lot of them are immigrants just like my family is. And they come from cultural backgrounds. And I was like, well, I want to help them. And also as a customer, I want to help myself, I want to eliminate that. Yeah. And it's just something that I've noticed is a trend in the food culture is that people are ordering from their phones almost all the time. You know, AAA, Uber Eats all these things. And so why shouldn't food trucks China have changed the way that they're doing orders right now, either. So once you
spotted this problem as a customer, you have long lines and inability to order on your phone. What was the next step you took? You're already at Georgetown? Yeah. What was the next step you took to? Did you do look at the market? Did you start asking questions would
Yeah, it actually took me a couple months to figure out what my next step was, because I didn't really know where to go, I thought I had this great idea. But I knew that I needed a product. And I didn't know how to get it because I don't have a technical background. So I couldn't build it myself. And so my next step was really figuring out how to validate my problems. So I did customer interviews, I participated in the Georgetown summer launch program. in there, I interviewed over 50 people, I think I over I interviewed over 100 people actually a food truck vendors and customer. And this was last summer, this was last summer. And I just validated the problem because I didn't want to spend money before validating the problem. And then I've figured out how to get app development. And that took a long time as well to figure out the right price, the right people exactly what I needed for that MVP product and just trying to get it out on the market as soon as I could. So it actually just happened a couple of weeks ago that we completely solidified that app development problem. And our app should be available in June 26. In June, you'll have
the app ready to launch. Terrific. Did applying for the summer launch program, did that help you to clarify your business and how so
it just helped me really focus on it. And I think that I started I came up with the idea in January of the spring semester, my junior year. And so I was you know, Junior years difficult. And I was struggling as a transfer student to really make sure that I had the right. All the classes all the right experiences everything. And so there was a problem of focusing entirely on trucker while also being a student. And so I wasn't able to give it my all and the summer launch program was just this completely all intense trucker program for me. And it helped me get for a couple of months for a couple of months. And I was in an environment surrounded by entrepreneurs at the White House Office. And it just was everything I needed to get trucker off the ground.
Great. Yeah. And given that truckers, your third business, were there any lessons you learn from either of your first two businesses that you took with you into trucker and felt like, Oh, that was a good time saver. You don't have to learn that one. Again.
I'm I'm a very impatient person, just by nature. And I think that the first two businesses taught me that business doesn't happen overnight. Startup doesn't happen overnight. And it gave me the patience through experience, that the results I wanted weren't going to happen at a finger snap, you know that I had to take my time to really figure out all the steps of launching a startup and not rushing into everything and making those huge mistakes, that are really hard to take back in a startup like financial wise and like time wise. So it just gave me everything I needed to really map out the process and take my time with it and not expect results. So quickly. There's a natural tension, though, is there? Because most entrepreneurs I know how a degree of impatience Yeah, and and yet building a business is one step after another takes to another. And things rarely happen as quickly as you want them to have. Yeah. And it's been a learning experience. I love it. It's a great process. It can be frustrating, but I live for it.
So you mentioned you're in the app development process. Yeah, a lot of Georgetown entrepreneurs are building apps. Yeah, we're having apps built. What are some things that you're encountering along the way that, you know, either roadblocks or some or big wins?
Yeah. Um, first of all, it's really hard to find the right team and the right people to build the app that you have, because every app has a vision, you know. And there's the design side where you have a vision of how the app will flow. And then there's the technical side where it's just code. And so you want to try to find the right team to build the app that has the vision for how it'll flow. And also, the vision for the code. And they're not just going to give you is something where you click a button, and it works, but that there's a user experience behind it. And it's really hard to find the right team to build everything that you're looking for. And it takes time. And a lot of the best developers also work overseas. So there's always time changes, time differences with scheduling and really communicating. And so I think that just finding the right team and communication has been the biggest problems.
Have you had to go through a couple of different teams?
Oh, yes, until I started at the end of the summer launch program to build the app. And we worked with an amazing team by run by a Georgetown alum in Puerto Rico. And what we got was a perfect MVP. But the MVP just wasn't functional like it, it wasn't able to bring in revenue, it wasn't able to bring all the features that I wanted for trucker
until tell our listeners the MVP is
Yeah, so the MVP is just the product that you can use to make money. And so for chucker, how we make money as we get customers on the app. So what we did was we built this product that got customers on the app, but they weren't able to process transactions. So we weren't going to be making any money. And just it was it was a complicated process. But it was necessary to go through that first process to get a feel for what the future would look like. And so then I went through a bunch of different people trying to get other developers to like, enhance the app and build on it. And it took a long time to find the people with the right qualifications to build in the code that we needed, and to also have the right vision. And so we just got that within the past few weeks. So it takes time. And are you building on the original work that was done at the end of the summer? Or have you scrapped that and you just start over, we're starting over, I think that it was great to work with the first company because we kind of got the first draft of what the app would look like. And as you know, drafts always get changed, and you make reviews and edit. sure that's what we're doing now. So we're almost starting fresh, and is your idea
of what you're actually building changed from the end of summer to new, which is beginning of spring,
I think it finally gotten better. I think I've really realized, yeah, I've built on what I'm looking for the user experience, which is something that as I don't have a tech background, so I opened Uber and I just expect it to work the way that I want it to. But it took me some time to figure out that there's user experience behind that, and that that's complemented with code. You know, it's not just like a bunch of letters and numbers that get put together, you really have to focus on the user experience in the design. And that's something that I didn't really think about. And so we've just refined how the app should look like
switching gears just a little bit. You were a bird tank winner. Yes. You gave a great presentation. Thank you. How did the Shark Tank experience impact you as an entrepreneur? and What impact did it have, if any on your business?
It really gave me a new sense of like the seriousness of tracker, because I felt like I was always working on trucker like in my garage. You know, like I was Jeff phases with this big idea. And like people and really take it so seriously. But doing Shark Tank made me realize that it's not just me who sees the promise of trucker like a lot of people believe in it. A lot of people support it, and they want it to work. And it makes sense. Yeah. And it just gave me the support, I needed to almost go a step further and how serious I was taking the whole process. And it just made me realize like I'm all in. Yeah, and it helped so much. I got so many connections out of it. A ton of people in the audience reached out to me, I got people signed up on our waitlist, like it was an amazing experience. And so going into the pitch, did you get good input from people along the way? Oh, yeah, that's just another compliment to Georgetown's entrepreneurship program. Like I got partnered specifically with some ers to work with every single day entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs and residents. And I just always had a team that I could rely on. And I also worked with another entrepreneur that was pitching and we were able to bounce off one another two of us competitors. Yeah, editors. And I was worried at the beginning because it's like, well, why am I working with my competitor? Like, isn't it a competition? And yeah, at the end of the day, it is at together Exactly. Like we're not it's not malicious competition at all. We all support one another, you know, we all want each other to win. And so that's what I realized was like, I want her to do as well as I can do, you know, and I can only do that by being there to support her and also, like, help her improve her pitch. And while she's doing that, I'm also being able to improve mine. And you felt that same level of
sincerity from her.
Yeah, it's just a kinship. It's a family. Like that's how I think of it. We all support one another. There's, it's just amazing. I always know that I have a support system there.
And I do think that sets apart the Georgetown entrepreneur community.
Oh, definitely. I don't think I could experience that elsewhere. Honestly, I'm so glad I transferred here
now did the fact that Ted Leonsis was going to be a judge at the competition. Was that intimidating for you? Or was that something you were looking forward to?
It was so looking forward to it and Melissa? So I like to think that I transferred to Georgetown for the business program. But in the back of my mind, I always transferred to Georgetown for Ted Leonsis. What do you mean by that? So when I transferred, I was in business, but I wanted to work in sports management. And I had my headset that I wanted to work in basketball, especially for the wizards and I had had experienced before interning with the Redskins and the nationals and such. And so I knew about Ted's experience, and he's this sports management guru, like he's just an idol in this sports management business. And so I just knew that like, if I go there, if I go to Georgetown, like, I have a connection to Ted and like, maybe my dreams will happen. And then it just so happened that I completely switch gears into entrepreneurship. And he was still that I
was like, well, it worked out perfectly. Like I'm still here for 10
years, now, he's in
your corner is amazing. It's just come full circle. And I was I was so nervous to pitch it in front of him. But when I was there, like, I just felt like he was there for us. Like he wasn't there for a competition. He was there to support us. Right. I was right. It was so meaningful to me.
Yeah, that and I think that is why he comes I think that's why he under under right spark tank and other elements is because he is so supportive of
entrepreneurs. It's amazing. I don't think you could find it elsewhere.
Yeah, that really does help. For many reasons. Georgetown entrepreneurship program is set apart. Definitely. If you could ask Ted, one question as the CEO of trucker, what would that be?
I think that my main goal as the CEO of tracker, like, my, my future goal is for trucker to expand outside of the DC market, I want it to go into much larger markets in other cities, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, all these other food truck hubs. And so one question I would love to ask Ted that I'm always asking myself is, what factors should I consider when I expand? And how should I go about this? You know, what actions should I take? What's the best course of action to expand successfully as a tech startup? Yeah, I'm hoping he would have an answer.
I'm sure he would, will try to get that question out to him. Thank you. Lastly, along the way, as an entrepreneur of not one, not two, but three businesses, what's a piece of advice that you've received so far, that really stands out for you?
Yeah, I think that, since I started the summer launch program, I just got the best piece of advice was just to take my time with my startup, and to really make sure that I had the correct vision for what I was looking for, as an entrepreneur. And also, as the founder of a startup, you know, not to get caught up in any of the little things, but to really see the overall vision of what I wanted out of my startup. And I just learned how to approach that the best way and really take my time with my vision and not rush anything, because they The thing about the entrepreneurship program is they don't want they try to help you not make mistakes. Sometimes, you know, you get hard love that, you know, maybe this isn't the right course of action, or maybe you need to rethink your business idea.
Yeah. And, you know, speaking the
truth to you. And that's what the hard truth, you know, because we all want to be successful here, you know, so you don't want people trying to hype you up for the wrong reasons, right, or, you know, trying to spare your feelings. And so really, the entrepreneurship program taught me how to make sure that my startup is successful, just based on my vision and going about it the right way.
And what I hear you saying is the input you were getting was first and foremost, it's about the vision. Yep. Be clear, have clarity in your vision, validate or invalidate it. And before you start to market
yet, or build it, that's been the best advice I've ever had. Like, I didn't think about it before I got here. And I did the entrepreneurship program. And the big thing that we're all focusing about, like with summer launch was validate, validate, validate, and I was like, Well, I know my business is going to work. You know, I, I support this. My family supports this, you know, so you think that it's the best idea since sliced bread because you
like it? Where's your enthusiasm today?
I'm really stressed it and I found out that you know what they're right. Like, you have to validate it. And now like whenever I have an idea that I want to work on, I just think about validating and then, right, that's the first thing I have to do.
Well, I really appreciate you coming in. Good luck and as you continue along your entrepreneurial journey, thank you so much.
Venture forward is a production of the Georgetown entrepreneurship initiative at the McDonough School of Business. Our production team includes Jacki Abbey, Christie Pels L and Ben Zimmerman. Thanks for listening. Until next time,