Five Questions for Mike Lawson, Botrow Technology
We recently had the chance to interview Mike Lawson, from Botrow Technology. Botrow promises to change the way we pay for things. Their payment solution can be found at ski hills throughout Atlantic Canada, streamlining the way we buy lift tickets.
We asked Mike five questions.
Q) What does Botrow do? What problem does it solve?
A) Botrow Tech. is a payment processing company that offers self serve payment functions for business’ to help improve efficiency, data collection and customer service.
Q) What does the future of public transportation look like to you guys?
A) Public transportation is something that has been shaping the payments industry for decades, so it was an organic transition for us to move into the space. Currently in small to medium size cities across North America there are 2 major ways of paying for public transit, cash and a monthly pass. As we know the use of cash is declining year over year, this leaves a service gap between riders and the municipality. Not only is cash inconvenient but it is also expensive, with cash handling fees eating up around 20% of overall operating costs.
We came to realize that although many large cities across North America (pop. 500k+) have developed their own cashless payment systems for transit use, there is a wide market of small to medium size cities that have the same cash handling problems. Cities this size generally don’t have the resources to design their own system in-house and are looking for an off the shelf product like ours. With the help of our industry partner in Saint John Transit, we are currently building a new payment platform that will be able to collect bus fare in form of digital payments while collecting valuable ridership data.
Our new payment platform will include, a mobile wallet – the “Tapay” app that uses QR codes for payment, a city wide self serve kiosk network that sells and dispenses’ loaded transit cards, and the ability to use your debit and credit card. These payment methods will be accepted by tapping an on bus payment module, which is mounted to the existing coin collector. This will allow Transit authorities to reduce cash handling fees, collect valuable payment location data, all while improving the overall customer experience.
Q) Your technology is currently in use in the ski-hill setting throughout Atlantic Canada. How challenging was it to tailor your product / service for the ski-hill setting? Could your technology function efficiently for larger resorts?
A) The lift ticket kiosk is how I actually got involved in the business. Growing up I spent a lot of time at local ski hills as well as traveling to various mountains around North America. So when I was approached by my current partners with the idea of bringing self serve technology to ski hills it was something I was excited about. If you’ve ever been to a mountain on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday you know how frustrating it can be to wait in line to purchase your lift ticket. With that in mind, over the course of around 6 months we perfected the service of purchasing and printing lift tickets from a self serve kiosk. This allows for additional point of sale transactions without the need for additional staffing.
Now our kiosks are in ski hills across Atlantic Canada and we are on track to process $400,000 (approx) in ticket sales over the course of this winter season. We are looking to export to the US market in the coming year and we are currently developing relationships in the eastern United States. This is a new technology to the ski industry and can be brought to a hill of any size, as it’s a plug in and print solution.
Q) What challenges have you come up against as an entrepreneur in eastern Canada? How have you overcome those issues?
A) Doing business in Eastern Canada has some advantages, but access to start up capital isn’t necessarily one of them. The number of venture capital firms as well private investors looking to diversify their portfolio is smaller in this part of the country and can present some additional challenges when starting a business. That’s why Liftoff Capital can be such a valuable resource in connecting entrepreneurs with potential investors. Luckily for us we were able to create revenue through our lift ticket kiosk to fund the development of additional products. Now we are looking to take the next step in the growth cycle, by raising investment capital in order to improve our sales and marketing approach and bring our products to new markets.
Q) If you could offer one piece of advice for your fellow tech-entrepreneurs what would it be?
A) Be ready to talk to as many potential customers as you can, both business’ and end users. Take feedback from both parties and improve the flow and functionally of your product. In the world of software there is no such thing as a finished product, but a product that is in a constant state of improvement.