Andrew Leone of Dispatch

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Andrew Leone (co-founder and CEO) of Dispatch, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Dispatch – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

Dispatch was originally built as a tool to help scale an existing HVAC distribution firm that I owned. Our challenge was getting products to the job site quickly and efficiently for local contractors. With the rising cost of skilled labor and an economy where we had to commit to getting deliveries done right away, our existing methods weren’t working.

A lot of times, the solution ended up being sending highly paid skilled workers around town to pick up parts and then back to the job, losing out on billable time. Then we started running products out with our internal HVAC fleet and quickly realized that wasn’t scalable either. We decided to develop our own technology-driven solution to manage the delivery process and give visibility to the contractor or customer. Since the solution met our needs and we realized other businesses had similar needs, we decided to scale it and develop a whole new company. In 2016, Dispatch was in action!

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Adjusting to the speed of scale. I have experience building traditional firms, but a high-growth technology company has different constraints because it scales faster. Reshaping systems and people to meet that scale is tough because with other companies, you have more time to grow organically with employees or expand with your own cash. With tech firms, you need skill sets faster, so you end backfilling and rebuilding teams, and updating the organizational structure many times to meet new requirements.

What does the future hold for Dispatch?

The future is really exciting! We’re focused on the industrial distribution segment, where the space is so large and technology is getting more sophisticated. A lot of the things we’ve been updating lately are algorithmic – things that are really complicated to do but drive big wins on both the customer and driver side. We’ve spent years refining our software to build a best-in-class product. We’ve been focused on the core of the business and a lot of that is under the hood, but we want to make sure the foundation is strong. A lot of what we’ve done over the last few years is compliance, state regulations, and algorithmic changes, and it’s incredibly important for scale. We’re going to continue to focus on our core business but are really starting to adapt and bring in some other tech stacks to further build our platform.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Minnesota?

I think the Minnesota tech scene has ebbed and flowed, and there are some really good
organizations. When we started, there was not nearly the amount of capital there is now. I’d like to see more money reinvested into the local state ecosystem. I think sometimes cash moves and leaves and doesn’t necessarily come back. Keeping the funds in-state is really important to get that flywheel spinning and have wins come out of the market through money, mentorship, and other resources. I think it’s getting better, but you have to help companies succeed and then re-invest

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t neglect the basics. I think this is a problem in technology companies. My first firm did window-washing, so coming from a traditional model, I’ve learned the fundamentals are sometimes neglected in software organization built by aspiring entrepreneurs. Take the time to learn business skills and true acumen, like how to hire and fire people, and how to read a P&L. My biggest advice is learning. My pet peeve, especially in the tech startup scene, is having someone pitch you an idea without having done any real work or educating themselves on how to run a company – it doesn’t matter what tech you have if you can’t figure this out, or how to make money. That’s foundational.


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