Join us for a fascinating episode where our host Brian Dainis engages in an intriguing conversation with Xavier, the CEO of Presto, a restaurant automation company. Delve into the world of AI and discover how it’s revolutionizing order-taking in the restaurant industry, leading to improved consistency, efficiency, and enhanced customer experiences. We’ll also explore the vital role of AI in self-driving cars and its promising applications across industries, focusing on the potential for elevated safety and convenience. Lastly, we’ll discuss the entrepreneurial journey, comparing experiences with and without venture capital funding, emphasizing the importance of staying true to your vision and maintaining control over your company’s trajectory.
Xavier Casanova, a distinguished tech entrepreneur, boasts over two decades of experience in Silicon Valley, where he has excelled in building SaaS companies from the ground up. As the CEO and Founder of Presto, a leader in restaurant automation, Xavier brings a wealth of experience in product management, marketing, sales, business development, finance, and technology, having developed numerous SaaS products and web applications from scratch. His impressive track record includes both VC-backed and bootstrapped successes, making him a notable figure in the tech industry. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Cache Flow Podcast:
- By using AI to streamline order taking, restaurants can increase the speed of service, average check size, and overall efficiency, while enabling staff to focus on higher-value tasks.
- The convenience and lifestyle benefits of self-driving cars are immense, from transporting kids to reducing automotive-related deaths.
- Valuations in the growth stage SaaS industry were slashed by 80% after the dot-com bust.
- College education can provide discipline in problem-solving and encourage the pursuit of excellence.
- Not everyone needs college to succeed; self-taught individuals can excel with creativity and online learning.
- Building a real-time content personalization solution for email marketing was a game-changing pivot for their company.
- Bootstrapped companies can still thrive and attract customers, proving there’s room for organic growth.
- 09:48 – “We’re trying to learn from the human and actually replicate what a human would do. And it’s also similar in the way that your example actually is a good one. In the automotive space, these self-driving cars, right? You still need to have a driver kind of monitor what the AI is doing and take over when, when the AI is not responding properly, which is one of our principles as well.”
- 25:30 – Xavier: “It didn’t last long, but there was a time when Covid-19 hit that we thought “oh, you know, maybe the economy’s going to tank”. And then rebounded, and then this surge of optimism lasted for about a year.”
Brian: “Was like four weeks of uncertainty during Covid-19 that it was like everything’s getting funded.”
Xavier: “Everything’s getting funded, everybody’s working from home. Everybody can build the company in their like garage. But it didn’t last long, the dot-com, the boom and lasted three or four years, because really it started in late nineties and went all the way to 2000-2001. So that one felt longer and more irrational than this last one.”
- 06:27 – “But I think a lot of times when you have new technology like this, a lot of people are looking for problems to solve with that technology. And there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there thinking about what we could do with this technology with large language models and so on. And Presto actually is in a unique position because we actually have a problem that can be solved today with that technology. And that’s exciting, that the market is growing and it’s going to be a big market and AI is a perfect fit for what we’re trying to do in the restaurant, which is automate the restaurant.”
- 39:23 – “If you can see a path where you’re able to build a first prototype, you’re able to convince a few people to pay you a bit of money, buy your product, be your early partners, and you see a path for organically growing that business, I would definitely avoid the VC route because first of all, it will stay out of your company and you’ll have control of your destiny.”
- 40:20 – “Sometimes you have to build a very complex product before it can add value, and that’s expensive. So, a company like Presto, for example, is a good example of a company that needs capital because of all the things that are involved in making our drive-through solution work. It’s a very complex product with a lot of components. There’s a lot of engineering, there’s AI technology that needs to be built. That’s a very difficult company to start as a bootstrap company. But VCs love these type of companies and investors love these type of companies because you can clearly see that with investment, you’re opening up an opportunity that’s gigantic and in a high growth space and so on.”