Own Raises Another $50,000, Nabs Coffee House Customers

It has been nearly two years of hard work but Own president/founder Verdi Erel Ergun can finally say what every new company wants to say.

“We now have a real product with real paying customers!” Ergun e-mails me.

Since Xconomy first profiled the Ann Arbor, MI-based startup last summer, Own has raised $50,000 from Invest Detroit First Step fund, hired seven full- time employees, and signed up three customers, including a coffee shop chain in California.

“It’s really been great,” Ergun says in an interview. “We’ve taken it to the next level.”

Own makes an Internet-based cash register system that makes it easy for coffee shop owners to customize what employees see when they’re entering customer orders or ringing up the bill. The system allows managers to quickly update menus, see real-time sales data, and integrate customer loyalty programs with Facebook and Twitter

So far, Own has signed up Brewed Awakenings in Saline, MI; Juabla Village Coffee in North Carolina; and Caffino, a 24-store chain based in Concord, CA. The goal is to eventually hit 100 stores by the end of the year.

Own is also developing its own tablet computer. Nothing fancy like iPad or Xoom, Ergun says, but a “secure, locked down” tablet version of Own’s point-of-sale (POS) system that protects proprietary data.

Small businesses can’t afford custom made touchscreen POS systems, Ergun argues. With Internet-enabled tablets, which range from $300 to $900, coffee chains can run their operations, including inventory management and payroll, with the same sophistication of large companies, he says.

“‘What’s nice about tablets is that everyone can have them,” Ergun says. “This will level the playing field” in information technology.

With the Invest Detroit deal, which was inked in January, Own has now received about $125,000 in startup capital and is looking to raise another $1 million.

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