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UNB fertile ground for tech startups

Author: Communications

Posted on Nov 29, 2013

Category: UNB Saint John

Entrepreneur and smartphone app developer Patrick Malone has his sights set on Fredericton.  He has taken his smartphone app, iTendr, to the popular CBC television show Dragon’s Den.

While Malone has been living in Vancouver for five years, he says the company is eyeballing Fredericton, which has a high profile in the tech community. And the University of New Brunswick is fertile ground for tech startups.

"For a small city, it is punching way above its weight class," Malone said.

More on UNB-born startups:

Engineering student launches pay-by-phone parking company in Fredericton

High tech start-up commercializing UNB research

MentorMash: Top CEOs and budding entrepreneurs celebrate TME’s 25th

Smart Skin Technologies set to launch new golf product

UNB students make a grand entrance at NBIF Breakthru

Read the full story behind Malone’s smartphone app in the November 29 edition of the Daily Gleaner.


App developer looks for Dragon dollars
The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
Fri Nov 29 2013

Fredericton native Patrick Malone has faced down Canada's fearsome financial dragons in their own den.

But the smartphone app developer isn't allowed to say yet if he emerged victorious with cash in hand.

No one will know until his episode airs on the popular CBC television investment show Dragon's Den sometime between now and April.

Malone entered the Dragon's Den armed with iTendr, his new smartphone app that allows executive assistants and party planners to more easily book restaurant reservations for their high-powered bosses and clients.

"It's six months old. It's live and active in Vancouver and Toronto," he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday from his home in Vancouver.

"It's an iPhone app that connects executive assistants and event planners to dozens of dining room managers simultaneously, speeding the search for large and last-minute restaurant reservations for corporate clients."

"For the office administrator, it's a tremendous time saver."

Restaurants pay a small monthly fee to sign up with iTendr. The restaurant manager tells the system what kind of food they serve, where they are located, how many people they can seat and if they are locally owned or not.

An executive assistant using iTendr simply inputs the size of their party, when they want to eat, what kind of food their party wants to eat, the part of the city where they want to go and how much they want to spend.

A small fee is also charged with each booking.

The program automatically matches the two and calls the restaurant that best fits.

"It saves them time, frustration and money because they quickly get a broader range of prices for their events," said Malone.

"For the restaurant, as you can well imagine, it's low-cost lead generation."

"What we're doing is dramatically increasing the visibility for both the corporate booker and the venues."

Before iTendr, executive assistants planners had to manually call restaurants one by one and ask all that information when trying to plan an event, he said.

"I've had executive assistants ... drop the F-bomb in frustration (before iTendr)," said Malone.

"The majority of times it's a scramble. It's telephone tag back and forth with hostesses and managers."

"With this it really speeds up the process."

So far 73 restaurants in Vancouver and 137 restaurants in Toronto have signed up, and the app has received rave reviews, he said.

But Malone wants to take his app global, and for that he needs cash.

"I have people on the ground in London and Sydney and Seoul," he said.

That's when he saw on social media the advertisement for Dragons Den auditions. He was one of 41 teams that showed up for the auditions in Vancouver earlier this year.

He passed that audition and taped his sequence on Dragons Den in Toronto just before Easter.

"I wanted to tape on the Thursday before Easter because if they crucified me I could say, well, they do that to all the good guys," he joked.

The television audience sees only a short, edited version of what goes on. Malone said he was in front of the dragons for about 15 minutes.

Malone said he was fairly composed before making his pitch.

He said he didn't dress up like a smartphone or do anything crazy in his presentation.

"It was a just a fairly technical pitch," he said.

"I felt it would resonate for them because most of the dragons have executive assistants."

His family flew up from Fredericton for the taping, and Malone said he will get two or three weeks' notice before his segment airs.

"We don't know yet," he said, about the air date.

While iTendr is initially targeting big cities, it would work in smaller centres like Fredericton, said Malone.

"We're going to cast a wide net and then drill down," he said.

Malone grew up in Fredericton. He was Fredericton High School valedictorian in 1982 and he was the swim team captain.

After graduation here, he attended Dalhousie University in Halifax. Then he went out west and worked in various restaurants and then moved into app development.

"I learned to waiter in a Ukrainian perogie house in Yellowknife. People say it shows," joked Malone.

"I worked in Calgary in some of the best fine dining rooms for the oil executives."

He has lived in Vancouver for about five years.

Malone also said that Fredericton has a high profile in the tech community.

"We're eyeballing Fredericton," he said.

"It's on our radar."

Everyone in the tech community knows Radian6 sold to Salesforce for $600 million last year and that the University of New Brunswick is fertile ground for tech startups, said Malone.

"For a small city, it is punching way above its weight class," he said.

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