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Entrepreneur Profile , Richard Manzo

While attending a food industry trade show, Richard Manzo noticed vendors were using paper , a practice he felt was archaic.

So the New York City native set out to update how orders are taken at trade shows, founding Buyingshow Solutions Inc. in 2003 and patenting a software suite in 2005.

“There was no organization for the wholesale industry to collect show orders and not use paper,” Manzo said.

The result is the Empower Software programs , iDeal, iReg, iBooked, iMarket and iPromo , which have now gone international after the company’s first show in Canada.

In January, Buyingshow Solutions also opened an office in Manzo’s hometown after noting that 80 percent of the business is done in the northeast.

“I knew from day one but it was a question of how fast,” Manzo said of his company’s success. “Anything without paper is scary and people are scared if the machines go down.”

But it seems that people aren’t too scared , Buyingshow Solutions tripled its clients in the last year. And though Manzo has focused on the food industry, he believes the software can be used in any wholesale trade show.


VITALS

Name: Richard Manzo.

Title: CEO.

Company: Buyingshow Solutions Inc.

Company address: 11211 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego.

Company phone: (858) 535-1814.

Year founded: 2003.

Prior business experience: Retail and food industry.

Average hours worked weekly: 60.

Source of startup capital: Self-funded.

2006 revenue: $2.8 million.

2005 revenue: $1.8 million.

Number of employees: 10.

Web site: www.buyingshowsolutions.com.


BACKGROUND

Birthplace: New York City.

Education: High school.

Age: 51.

Current residence: Del Mar.

Family: Wife Lesley; sons Nicholas, 27, and James, 25.

Hobbies: Walking, cooking, gardening.


JUDGMENT CALLS

Reason for getting into business: To innovate the trade show industry with software that does not require paper.

How I plan to grow the business: New products, international marketing, vertical markets, industry partnerships, expanding beyond the food service industry.

Biggest plus of business ownership: Seeing my vision come to life.

Biggest drawback: Enough cash flow to keep up with growth.

Biggest business strength: Product innovations. The company uses patented software called Empower Software.

Biggest business weakness: Managing our growth. As a small business, you always want to capitalize on growth but it doesn’t always allow you to bring in talented employees.

Biggest risk: Deploying new technology.

Smartest business decision: Pursuing the food service industry for product launch.

Biggest business mistake: Not slowing growth.

Toughest career decision: Moving my family to San Diego.

Biggest ongoing challenge: Finding talent.

The most important parts of my business: Our technology and employees.

My business works best when: Our customers streamline their sales and marketing using our products.

Best way to stay competitive: Product innovation and great customer service.

How I measure success: Customer satisfaction with our performance.


GOALS

Goals yet to be achieved: Total product integration and patent approval.

My five-year business plan: Build the business to $15 million and more.

I would sell my business only if: The price was right and I had realized my goals.

Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Continue to find ways to innovate the business processes for our clients.

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