Owen Clark is revolutionizing the restaurant industry. A bold statement, but true nonetheless. As the founder of the KiSSGC mobile app, Owen intends to transform the loyalty programs, gift card system and entire payment process at your favourite restaurants — and we’re excited to announce that Holistic Hospitality Solutions will be a part of this journey. Later on this month, we’ll delve into how having your own branded app is an investment that pays for itself, why this app stands apart from the crowd, and how HHS and KiSSGC can do all the heavy lifting for you!

KiSSGC stands for “Keep It Super Simple” + “Gift Cards” — and that’s exactly what Owen’s intention was when he came up with the concept for this app. In a nutshell, KiSSGC helps businesses boost sales through mobile payments, loyalty programs and mobile coupons.

What is KiSSGC?
Owen found inspiration for KiSSGC while working with his entrepreneurial venture Speed-Sew. Many of his business vendors used physical cheques to make payments, which Owen found to be inefficient and outdated. In an effort to make business processes more efficient, Owen helped his distributors switch to direct deposit, and helped his suppliers switch to credit cards and wire transfers for payment processing.

During this transition, he started to analyze his own habits and processes. He realized that the gift card system was just as inefficient. And just like that, the concept for this mobile app was born! Owen’s goal is to transform the gift card system with KiSSGC by:

1. Eliminating the need for physical gift cards, which take up valuable wallet space and are easy to lose.

2. Empowering customers by making it easy and convenient for people to check and manage the balance on their gift cards without having to physically go into the restaurant.

3. Encouraging restaurants to implement customized loyalty and coupon programs through a mobile app that is directly connected to their customers.

4. Streamlining rewards programs by managing everything through an app, consuming less of your staff’s time and energy.

We spoke with Owen about the digital transformation of the restaurant industry, his journey into hospitality, and how he assesses whether a business idea is worth implementing.

You’re the owner of Speed-Sew Fabric Glue, as well as your newest venture, KiSSGC. Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

owen-clark-kiss-gcWhen I was 16, my dad acquired Speed-Sew Fabric Glue and encouraged my brothers and I to learn business through reality rather than theory. So I set out on a long journey to learn about business by manufacturing glue. Speed-Sew is a fantastic business, but I have run this business for 28 years and wanted something more. Technology and the opportunities that the Internet offers were always of interest to me.

In 2006, I started Byzhub.com, a directory for businesses where consumers could request a service and businesses in any local area would be notified and have the opportunity to reply to this inquiry. Four years later, I had over 58,000 businesses subscribed on the platform. But my business model was challenging. I had to maintain two different databases across multiple regions: a business directory for the businesses, and another directory for the consumers. I sold the list in 2010.

To me, building Byzhub.com felt like earning a university degree in Internet marketing and technology. I realized my love and drive for emerging technologies would not die.

I decided to reflect on my former experiences with optimism, and hunt for my next adventure in the tech world. And it truly was a hunt. I checked out what felt like hundreds of opportunities and ideas, and that’s how I decided to focus on KiSSGC.

How did you get involved in the mobile app space and why have you chosen to focus on the hospitality industry?
KiSSGC is my first experience with apps! It has been a long two years of learning, and I have built over 300 versions of the app to get it to where it is today. By the time we go through another 100 versions, it will be extraordinary — so I cannot wait.

You can only have so many balls in the air at once. Focusing on the hospitality industry is the current direction we’re headed, and I am excited to focus on this area with Holistic Hospitality Solutions. We also intend to break out into other industries as well.

Why did you choose to partner with Holistic Hospitality Solutions to build KiSSGC?
It took me a long time to find Holistic Hospitality Solutions! As an entrepreneur, I know that finding the right people is literally like finding a needle in a haystack. It must have been fate. I’m looking forward to working with Holistic Hospitality Solutions as a part of our bigger story as time unfolds.

The digital landscape has changed everything for entrepreneurs and restaurateurs. What is the biggest mistake you see restaurant owners making nowadays?
I think the fear of technology is the biggest mistake, but I can understand where they are coming from with a mind-boggling number of options.

In my opinion, apps are today what a website used to be. In the past, not many businesses had websites. Now, it would be unthinkable not to have a website. Businesses with any vision will have an app in the very near future.

Interestingly, right now is the first time in history where the younger generation is teaching the older generation. I know entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate when running a business, so it’s unrealistic for them to explore every new technology that emerges. That’s why I encourage entrepreneurs to recruit young, tech savvy people for their teams. Companies who have the resources to do this are in a much better position to deal with the inevitable changes in technology and stay competitive.

Do you have any other projects on the go?
I do not. A few years ago, I learned not to multitask. Until a project is running smoothly, it holds my full attention.

What is your personal and professional vision for 5, 10, and 20 years from now?
I am a big dreamer. I’m currently the director of a charitable foundation that gives away approximately $600,000 each year to different local charities. That is a large sum of money, but I know that if we had $6,000,000 to give away each year, it would vanish just as quickly as there is a great need out there for these types of contributions.

I don’t see KiSSGC as anything short of a billion dollar plus enterprise. I imagine all the good that will be done with this kind of cash flow and all the positive change I could make. I want the dash on my tombstone to represent something great.

If you could start your business path all over again, what would you do differently? This advice may help others as they go through their entrepreneurial journey.
I thought that others would make me rich and I thought you could take shortcuts. I’ve learned the hard way that these assumptions are not accurate.

I also wish that when I was younger, I had better clarity about the criteria in which I assessed business ideas. After Byzhub.com and before landing upon the notion for KiSSGC, I evaluated each approach through a set of six specific criteria. If the idea fell short of meeting all six criteria, I refused to spend additional time on the idea and would investigate the next opportunity. Everyone’s criteria will be different, but mine are:
• I could not buy myself a job
• There had to be passive income involved with no ceiling on income potential
• No geographical restrictions
• Must be in a multi-billion dollar industry
• Must be something people can buy, use up and buy again, or have a subscription-based model
• Must be tech-related, fun and sexy

What project are you most proud of?
For four years, I organized annual golf tournaments for a local charity that have collectively raised over $50,000. They say, “if you give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” This charity continues to raise money from the foundation that was established in the years I was helping them, and I couldn’t be more proud.

If there was nothing holding you back, where would you pack up your bags and move to?
Probably Hawaii. It’s only a five hour flight from Vancouver, the weather is great, and it is clean and safe.

What are your favourite words to live by?
Keep it simple — simple is hard enough!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Work on yourself more than you work on anything else.

What motivates you to keep dreaming up and executing on new projects?
The dash on my tombstone.

Holistic Hospitality Solutions is excited to help Owen bring the KiSSGC mobile app solution to restaurants everywhere. Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will give a full rundown of how the app works, or reach out to us at trish@holistichospitality.ca or roger@holistichospitality.ca.

Author Trish Hudson

Trish is the owner and principal at Holistic Hospitality Solutions. She aims to help assess her clients operations from top to bottom in order to gain efficiencies, save money, and increase their bottom line.

More posts by Trish Hudson