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From Boardrooms to Bistros | Alison Galix from Dinova

Every year, corporations spend $100 billion on dining. Dinova is a technology company building the digital resources for small and large restaurants to harness that massive market potential.

In this episode of UpTech Report, I speak with Alison Galik, the president of Dinova, who discusses the technology and marketing challenges in facilitating these mutually beneficial relationships and some of the unique opportunities involved in developing B2B technology. 

Creating a restaurant network

Restaurants have a new way to make business with large corporations, by creating a network where they receive customers, through Dinova.

“The reason that restaurants like to participate in our program is because we’re sending the majority of their Monday through Friday traffic to them, and it tends to be a higher average check because it’s business dining”, explains Allison.


Alison Galik, President & CEO of Dinova, is responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of the company as well as executing its strategic plan and future growth. Galik brings more than 20 years of global leadership and progressive operational management experience in technology and corporate travel management. 

Galik was most recently President at Vibe HCM Inc., where she was responsible for the success of the human capital management software firm. She was a member of the executive team that was responsible for identifying and evaluating acquisition targets, as well as creating company integration plans.

Prior to Vibe, Galik was Executive Vice President at Nashville-based InnLink. There she presided over a $10 million central reservation services business serving 3,500+ independent hotel customers. Her success with the company led to its acquisition by Sabre Hospitality Solutions.

Before InnLink, Galik was the Senior Vice President of Client Success at Lanyon, Inc. where she was responsible for the account health of all 10,000+ customers and 150 support and service delivery professionals globally. In 2012, she successfully saw the company through its acquisition by Vista Equity Partners and following merger with ACTIVE Network.

Galik’s career runs deep in the corporate travel management space, having also held executive positions at Rosenbluth International, American Express, and StarCite.

Galik earned her bachelor’s degree in Management and Marketing from Rutgers University and her MBA from Temple University. She resides in Malvern, Penn. with her husband and daughter and works at Dinova’s headquarters office in Johns Creek, Ga.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Alexander Ferguson 0:00
Every year corporations spend $100 billion on dining DeNova is a technology company building the digital resources for small and large restaurants to harness that massive market potential. In this episode of UpTech Report, I speak with Allison Gaelic, the president of de Nova, who discusses the technology and marketing challenges in facilitating these mutually beneficial relationships and some of the unique opportunities involved in developing b2b technology. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Allison. I’m excited to hear more about the journey of Nova and how are you innovating and staying current in today’s world? starting us off? What year did you start to Nova? And what year did it start?

Alison Galik 0:44
Okay, so I started with de novo about a year and a half ago in April of 18. However, de novo was started 10 years ago. So we’re just celebrating our 10 year anniversary was started by a guy named Vic Mockito. And Vic’s vision was to create a restaurant program for corporations just like corporations have airline and hotel and car rental ground transportation programs. His vision was to create that same kind of program, a discount preferred vendor program for the restaurant industry for corporations.

Alexander Ferguson 1:25
Got it. And was it bootstrapped? Was it VC funded? How big is the team where you guys based?

Alison Galik 1:31
Ah, yeah. So right now we are owned majority share by a company called frontier capital. They’re a private equity firm, outside of well, actually, inside of Charlotte. And do NOVA is a company based in Johns Creek, Georgia, which is just about 40 minutes north of Atlanta.

Alexander Ferguson 1:56
Gotcha. And how big is your team know that? You were in know,

Alison Galik 2:00
our team now is 72? Employees?

Alexander Ferguson 2:05
Yes. Good size of group and and now going forward? This focus 10 years has been a long time. But the the focus has sounds like remain the same? Who is your target market? And how are you helping them,

Alison Galik 2:17
we really target two groups of customers. First, obviously, is the restaurant side, because we need to have a lot of restaurants in our program to create a restaurant network and marketplace for corporations to interact and send their business to. So we target restaurants primarily in the US. And then of course, to make the marketplace you need the other side of that, which is the corporations, and the corporations we target tend to spend a million dollars or more on dining business dining throughout the year. So what are kind of our sweet spot, I would say farmers, obviously farmers are spending a lot of money on dining, business, dining, and catering and things like that. So we have farmers and then financial services, and we even have government agencies and universities now to on our program. But we have 430 corporations in over 20,000 restaurants in our program. In the US.

Alexander Ferguson 3:31
That’s a quite some good numbers there 431 different enterprises and different in different industries, pharma, knowing that makes sense for that. And for them, using your service being able to track their and maybe rebates. I think I saw somewhere on your site. What’s your revenue source? Then? How do your packages and pricing work? Yeah, so

Alison Galik 3:53
the great news for the corporations is that DeNova is free to participate in actually, it’s more than free because you actually get paid to participate in DeNova. The more business signing you send to our 20,000 restaurants, the more rate rebate you will earn. What’s funding that, of course, is the restaurant side. So every time we send diners into one of our dinner of a restaurant, the restaurant will then process a rebate to to Genova and then we send that off to the corporation. de Nova takes a small piece of that rebate, and the rest of it goes off to the corporation. The reason that restaurants like to participate in our program is because what we’re doing is we’re spending majority of Monday through Friday traffic to them, and it tends to be a higher average check because it’s business dining. So it’s typically teams going out or Customers meetings, things like that, that are happening in a business dining setting. So, you know, obviously a higher check. And Monday through Friday traffic when consumer traffic tends to be down is a really nice sweet spot for restaurants.

Alexander Ferguson 5:20
Gotcha. And and the way the reboot rebate works for them is after the they’ve the check has been paid, then they send a rebate back to you guys, which then you process and send some back to the company. Exactly, gotcha. The technology behind it, you’re having to manage both the database, obviously, of all these different restaurants and keep track of all the transactions tell me a bit more about kind of your overall structure and partnerships and technology behind it.

Alison Galik 5:47
Yeah, so do Nova has, has our own database that we house and do, it’s actually a matching process we do how much spend is coming into the DeNova program being matched against the restaurants that we have. So every time a corporation spends on dining, that information is sent over to de Nova. We match it against our restaurants, we figure out what the rebate will be. And then we push that back out to the actually both to the corporation and to the restaurant. So the restaurant wants to know, why are you charging me this rebate who’s been in my restaurant, obviously. And then on the corporation side, they get get the rebate, and they can see where they’re spending where their corporate diners are going, and how much they’re being able to influence that spend to the preferred restaurants in the DeNova program?

Alexander Ferguson 6:48
What do you see the most value that the enterprises are that the businesses enjoy? Is that the rebates? Or is the ability to track it? Obviously, both. But what do they really see enjoy most?

Alison Galik 7:00
Well, I think actually it could be now third component, which is the actual employee benefit, so we have a rebate program, obviously going back to the corporation, we also create now a preferred dining program so you know where to send your employees, right? So that employees who are traveling our business or buying catering, they know which restaurants to go to. And then thirdly is we have a points program. So a loyalty program, which is getting so much bigger, it’s actually now expected in in many areas of spend, but primarily in the travel industry, it’s expected that you have a loyalty program. So whether you’re a corporate admin, buying catering or setting up private dinners for your employee base, or whether your individual traveler or salesperson on the road, on Dining Out, you can earn points. Every time you dine in and dinner the restaurant,

Alexander Ferguson 8:16
what was what was harder to build and continue to grow? Isn’t that list of businesses that million plus spend? Or is it the restaurants with tell me a bit more about building those partnerships? Yeah,

Alison Galik 8:27
so you know, Vic were here, he could tell you the story, he was able to get them both simultaneously. But started out really with just one corporation, one corporation and a few restaurants that serve the needs of that corporation. And that’s where it started. But obviously, we have 20,000 restaurants, we have a lot more restaurants than we have corporations. But as a corporation, you’re going to dine in many restaurants so that you know the challenge. The the driving force behind our sales team is primarily to acquire new restaurants, restaurants that we consider business grade, and we’ll keep our corporate diners happy. So that’s really where we we tend to spend most of our sales effort and sales and marketing dollars for

Alexander Ferguson 9:24
going forward. The vision. Yes, yours. Where do you see guys?

Alison Galik 9:30
Yeah, so Well, this year, we are starting to consider a expansion outside the US. So we are looking to expand in the Canada which is pretty exciting. And so that should start in 2020. So I would imagine in five years, the company will be much more international and we will have restaurants all over the globe as well as corporations all over the globe as well. Well, we just launched a catering portal as well. So we just started to step our feet into more technology than we’ve actually had before previously. So now we have a catering portal launched in a few cities in the US, but we’re hoping to really grow that. So I’d imagine catering would grow. And then we would get more international in our both our restaurants and our corporations.

Alexander Ferguson 10:29
For you personally. How are you innovating? Where do you look for for new insights and ideas?

Alison Galik 10:36
Yeah, so we have, because I am part of a private equity firm that owns the company, they have anywhere at any given time 15 to 20. Companies that they own within their portfolio, and they gather the executives together on a annual or more frequent basis. And we get together and we kind of share ideas and brainstorm. So I get a lot of input from the other CEOs of those companies, there’s portfolio companies, and, you know, obviously, I read I belong to Harvard business review studies, and you know, Wall Street Journal, things like that.

Alexander Ferguson 11:19
What kind of books or audiobooks are you listening to?

Alison Galik 11:24
So right now, the big book that I’ve really dug into is a book called traction. And have you heard it says, anybody shared that before it? Yeah. So it’s by Gina Whitman, and especially as you have if you’re a growing business, like we are, and, you know, high growth environment, and you’re still smaller business, like we only have 72 employees, it’s a great way to help people really focus on the, like the big boulders of the of this strategic plan versus getting distracted with the day to day. So really getting your executives focused on what are the most important things

Alexander Ferguson 12:12
for you on the technology side? I know you’re not gonna say one in depth in technology. But do you see anything out there currently upcoming technology that you’re most excited about? Whether it’s just applying maybe playing on your own in your own business, or just technology in general, anything you’re most excited about right now?

Alison Galik 12:30
Yeah, I would say it’s really the consumerization of apps and in and particularly in business travel. How many apps are out there right now for business travelers. So one of the things that we do is we will integrate with certain travel apps so that the restaurants will display as you land or you are in a certain hotel, you can see what restaurants around you. So I think that kind of proliferation of using apps while you travel, on particularly on business is becoming much more important, ensuring that you’re using the right travel suppliers, in our case restaurants, but travel suppliers in general, your safe people know where you are. All of that, I think, is really key for business travel overall.

Alexander Ferguson 13:29
That’s awesome. Absolutely. Alison, thank you so much for joining, where can people go to learn more about to Nova? And what would be the first kind of steps that you’d recommend them to take?

Alison Galik 13:37
Yeah, so obviously, you can go to de novo.com. We have on on our website, not only how you can sign up and a little bit more about DeNova as a signing up as a corporation or a restaurant. But there’s a lot of white papers on traveler satisfaction and business diners and the generational changes now that the millennials are over 50% of the workforce. So a lot of changes, interesting information that can be shared on that as well.

Alexander Ferguson 14:12
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.

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