Conor Sheridan is the CEO and founder of Nory, a startup that has built an “operating system” for the hospitality industry.
Founded in 2021, Nory has developed a platform for hospitality companies to manage their operations, including payroll, team engagement and inventory. It uses AI to “learn” about a customer’s business and act as a “co-pilot” to restaurant teams.
The company lists restaurants Jamie Oliver, Chopped and Viva Italia as customers. Sheridan was previously a quantitative trader and investment strategist before leaving his career in finance to found and launch the Irish independent restaurant chain Mad Egg in 2017.
Playfair Capital and Cavalry Ventures are among Nory’s backers, with both investors participating in a £1.5m pre-seed funding round in 2021. The London and Dublin-based startup has raised a total of $10m and employs 34 people.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Sheridan explains why you should run a cash flow-positive side gig for your first venture, shares his productivity tips, and why we need better technology solutions for an ageing population.
1. What advice would you give to a first-time founder?
Conor Sheridan: If possible, run a bootstrapped business as your first venture. Even if this is a side gig, I think building and running a business that is cash flow positive and is completely based on unit economics will give you a huge appreciation for profitability and give you the right skill set to get there.
In the event you then want to start a VC-backed venture, you can either use some of that cash to shoot for the moon and/or impress those investors more easily.
2. Who’s a leader you admire in your industry?
CS: Danny Meyer, who is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. He is also the author of ‘Setting The Table’, a book I loved. He is a people-centric hospitality founder who built world-class brands (such as Gramercy Tavern and Shake Shack) on the foundation of empowering teams and delighting customers.
As a SaaS CEO and restaurant owner myself, his wisdom, which is vertical agnostic, is really inspirational.
3. Which company’s growth story are you most impressed with?
A company I have been incredibly impressed with is Deel, a US-based SaaS/payments company that is valued at $12bn.
It’s a classic case of vision meets timing meets execution. It is one of the fastest SaaS companies to grow from $1m ARR to $100m ARR in 20 months. We actually use the product at Nory and can confirm the experience is frictionless.
4. Do you have a productivity hack?
CS: Learning about what works for you is so important. If you can unlock those roadblocks and then work out how to design your days or weeks to support these findings, you will be left with a lot more productivity.
These could be anything from what hours you do your best work or when you find you are often distracted. From here you can establish a high-performing calendar structure – it could be a non-negotiable workout to start the day, having no distractions during certain times or even taking certain calls walking.
5. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that’s ripe for disruption?
CS: As we continue to see people live longer, we need proper tech solutions to cater for this ageing population. Consequently, there’s an untapped market of technology geared to those at retirement age and above. These people will need better support and care services, but the technology to provide this is practically non-existent.
Whether it’s health tech or SaaS models, we ought to see more innovation for those aged 66+ – especially as it’s something that will hopefully benefit us all when the time comes.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.