We’ve actually known Steve Palmer and about his startup TruckyLove for quite a while now. We met off the Philadelphia startup leaders listserv. Palmer has gone through some major growing pains with TruckyLove and now with the help of the Iron Yard accelerator in Greenville SC, they’ve finally rested on the final concept for TruckyLove.
When we first met Palmer last year, there weren’t a hundred food truck apps either on the market or on the way to market. After another great south by southwest we were sure that TruckyLove was going to be epic. However, in April it seemed like every entrepreneur wanted to connect people to the food trucks they love.
So Palmer and his team, with the help of the Iron Yard accelerator, where they’ve been incubating the last few months, they built something a lot more epic than just a food truck locator app.
Essentially TruckyLove has become a food truck social network of sorts for both the food truck owners and their fans, and patrons.
For the food truck owner, TruckyLove gives them a great way to connect with old and new customers. They also get a fancy profile page, something the other food trucks apps don’t offer. On the profile page the food truck owners can tell their stories, highlight their menus, advertise specials and connect with fans and patrons.
The food truck profile pages can also be integrated with existing social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For the end user, they can now peruse the food trucks, their menus, their profiles, their specials and see every single food truck spread out across a map. This is great if you’ve got eclectic taste buds or if you’re one of those folks that just loves trying new things.
One of the things you’ll learn about Steve Palmer though is that he’s not just the founder of TruckyLove he’s very passionate about startups and entrepreneurship in both his hometown of Lancaster PA, and his adopted home in Greenville. In fact his invitation to do an interview here on nibletz.com has been an open one for months, but he didn’t even want to complete his interview until the rest of his colleagues at Iron Yard got a chance to tell their story.
Lomgtime readers of Nibletz.com know how we feel about Philadelphia, but the other startup ecosystems in Pennsylvania have some great things happening. We can’t wait to see the finished product on Truckylove, and we can’t wait for Palmer to get back home so we can add Lancaster, York and Easton to our sneaker-strapped, nationwide startup road trip.
Check out our interview with Palmer below:
What is TruckyLove?
TruckyLove is an engaging web and mobile community that helps you find your favorite food trucks and mobile vendors anytime, anywhere. However, it goes well beyond your standard food truck finder app. Our belief is that “a rising tide lifts all boats” so we are building a complete web and mobile community for food truck owners and their fans.
Most websites and blogs are focused on news and articles about the food truck industry. We want to feature and index all food trucks by offering a unique profile page to each owner. Fans can search our web or mobile apps for these food trucks, view them in a live map, view menus, create favorite lists and engage the owners via social streams like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For truck owners and fans, this web community becomes a showcase for the exploding food truckmovement. Owners will benefit from the tools we provide that will allow them to manage social channels, offer promotions and empower them with location sharing.
By bringing these tools into one interface, owners are simplifying the engagement process for the fans. As fans interact with these pages we can offer owners access to valuable analytical data that is largely unavailable to them or really time consuming to find. Essentially, this serves as a marketing platform that leverages community.
Our mobile application will include all of the web features will be available to owners and consumers. Fans can use the app to see which trucks or vendors are nearby.
Owners who use our GPS enabled app will finally have complete control over sharing the location of theirtruck. Simply turn it on when open for business, turn it off when closed for the day. When in the “on” position, the truck’s location is reported in real-time to the web and mobile app.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds
Steve Palmer, CEO, co-founder and Luke Bayas, CTO, co-founder.I have extensive management experience in H.R., Marketing and Operations primarily in human services. This is my first startup. Luke has more than 10 years of programming and software engineering experience. He has worked for software companies such as Invensys, Hitachi Data Systems and S2. This is his first startup as a co-founder.
Where are you based?
Headquarters will be in Lancaster, PA though we are involved heavily in the Philadelphia startup community and plan to spend a lot of time there as well.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
Lancaster is not considered a tech hub but companies like MapQuest and appMobi set up shop there. However, there are some stellar startup founders in the area cultivating the startup scene. Leaders include founders of Chilisoft, Mission Research, CoTweet, Knack, Markkup, Loggr, The Usic and others.
What problem does TruckyLove solve?
Location is the name of the game for food truck owners. But running a mobile business takes more than just telling people where you are. We equip business owners with the power of GPS location sharing AND a toolkit to engage the food truck community on a whole new level.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
We realized a little more than half way through the Iron Yard accelerator that we weren’t on the right path with our original product. Product-market fit was just not quite right and to reference a term I read on Brad Feld’s blog, we didn’thave the founder-market fit either. We circled back to TruckyLove knowing we were passionate about it and decided to let the rest fall into place. The challenge is letting go of something you worked so hard on for nearly 8 weeks (and in the months prior to the Iron Yard). We are happy we made the change.
Who are your mentors and role models?
There are several who are part of the Startup Lancaster group facilitated by Charlie Crystle (founder Chilisoft, Mission Research). The talent there is insane; people just don’t know – yet. Officially, Charlie and Kyle Sollenberger, founder Co-Tweet are advisors to our team. Also people we see as role models are Dave, Eric, Fran, Ryan, Joe, Josh, Clint, Leslyn and many others!
In Philly, we seek the advice from Chris DiFanzo (CEO, OpenDesks), Bob Moul, CEO appRenaissance, as well as the Philly Startup Leaders and rest of the startup community.
In D.C., Nick Whitmoyer and Martin Ringlein (now in S.F.)
We have several mentors at the Iron Yard that continue to serve as advisors as well.
What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about you or your startup?
By the publish date of this article, we will have actually worked on a food truck to learn the pain points first hand.
What’s next for your startup?
Planning a private beta release in September. Sign up at link below, no code required.
Sign up for early access to TruckyLove here
Here are more startup stories from the Iron Yard
Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more startup interviews from “everywhere else”