Christopher Huebner: From a food service designer to a tech entrepreneur
INTERVIEW: Christopher Huebner, the founder of Kitchautomation talks about his business and the reason his partnership with Roomle is a perfect fit for the food service industry.
The foodservice industry is the only industry Christopher Huebner has ever known. His entire career is now dedicated to the foodservice industy. After graduating from The University of Maryland he took a job with his father who sold commercial kitchen equipment. From a young age he was intrigued and showed interest in drafting, so much so that he took AutoCAD courses at the local community college. Little did he know that when he started his career in foodservice, those courses would become the foundation of his new career. Christopher quickly realized he could use his design skills as his competitive advantage to sell more restaurant equipment. So he became a design-build specialist, designing the projects and then selling and installing the equipment. He started to work with Revit, the world‘s leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, and after the first project he was hooked. Revit is a 3D design & planning tool mostly used for architecture, and Christopher was using it to design restaurants as a consultant to architects and owners. He fell in love with Revit and became and expert while designing and building hundreds of commercial kitchens. In his spare time he was also experimenting with the software to automate the repetative parts of food service design. Christopher always had a love for software but this created an opportunity where he could merge his expertise in Revit and foodservice design with his love of software.
What started with a few macros to automate the repetative parts food service design has ended with Christopher starting his own software development company for the food service industry. Christopher decided to bootstrap his company using the funds he got for selling he food service design firm in 2017 to found Kitchautomation. Now he's taking the food service industry to a whole new level with the partnership between Kitchautomation and Roomle.
Christopher, what is the connection between Kitchautomation and Roomle
How did you find us?
I found Roomle about two years ago when I was building configurators for Revit. This resulted from my cooperation with Metro,the world’s leading manufacturer of shelving, utility carts, high-density track shelving systems, and more than 10,000 other storage solutions for the foodservice, healthcare and commercial markets.
Metro wanted a tool that allows them to design their shelving into rooms. Means, they needed a floorplanner and wanted to configure their shelvings and reconfigure them in rooms - and export the configurations into Revit. That was the point I brought Roomle in.
You guys at Roomle have something very special. When I tried the Floorplanner I immediately loved it and realised what I had found. After working with configurators myself I understood the potential of Roomle - so I introduced it to Metro and they loved the tool right away too. My vision was that Roomle would not only be good for the food service industry, I thought it would be good for all industries that need configurations.
So your first contact with Roomle was through our Floorplanner?
The floorplanner was the thing that brought us in - the so-called door opener. There are a lot of competitors that do configurators, but none of them has the combination with the floorplanner. Especially for Metro, this was the decisive reason to go with Roomle.
The goal was not only to embed configurators on Metros new Website. The goal was to also have a mobile app with a floorplanner that Metro sales people can use to go out and create shelving layouts on a tablet at the restaurant or customer location, and to ultimately quote and sell their products. And now we are pretty much using everything Roomle offers for all of our clients: From embedding configurators into websites, integrating them into 3rd party websites, using AR and VR. With the Rubens Configurator it is very easy for a customer to configure their favorite products and then just click a button to add the configured product to a shopping cart. So far the response has been great, people are absolutely amazed what Roomle can do and how the incredible graphics and easy to use interface allow all users to better understand a manufacturer‘s products holistically for the first time.
Where do you see the advantages of the Rubens Configurator?
The big advantage of the Roomle configurator is that people can see the options of the products and the whole range of possibilities. When people click on it, they understand the products better and can imagine a lot of things more easily. Only by playing with the configurator new perspectives open up for users - and in Roomle's case this is very intuitive. Five minutes with a well-built configurator and the customer can understand every option and accessory of a product. It is the closest thing to a customer seeing every variation of the product in real-life.
What are the main USP's of working with Roomle for you?
- Exporting Revit data out of Roomle is our competitive advantage and this is where we stand apart. With Roomle, we are able to built better product configurator experiences for our Revit configurator tools.
- The Roomle user experience stands on its own.
- The time savings - it's so much faster now for salespeople to sell the right products.
Coming back to the export from Revit and the possibilities that arise on it: At the moment there is a catalog of static Revit things, without options, a very generic version. And it's a bad thing not to show all the possibilities, all the accessories that are important. Once we launch this product, it will be a big leap forward. Especially from a sales perspective. There's no mobile design tool that works like Roomle Right now, I can't go to clients with an app and a tablet, draw and design kitchens with them. This will be something completely new in the market! With the export of data to Revit, this takes foodservice to a whole new level of convenience.
Is the export into Revit difficult?
The export is really simple. The person exporting the data just has to click a button and provide an email. It's like writing an email and sending it off. It's also very easy for the person receiving the data to take what is sent to them and place it in their project. You can even go back into the configurator and change it - it's like a two-way relationship. You can always change configurations, send it back, and change it again. It's seamless, going back and forth which allows users to constantly maintain and improve their products over the course of the project design.
What is coming next?
Soon we will be launching an App called Kreator, for the food service equipment industry on the Appstore – inspired by the Roomle Floorpanner but with a focus on food service equipment and design. The Kreator app can also be integrated with existing Roomle configurators to allow Revit exporting with the proper setup. The goal is to create a full catalog of configurators that you can design a whole restaurant and bar with and Kitchautomation is currently adding new products to the catalog every month.
Thank you for the interview!
More about KITCHAUTOMATION
Kitchautomation is passionate about the simplification of the Foodservice design process. Leveraging our industry knowledge, 3D modeling expertise and software acumen, we build digital tools that enable Foodservice professionals to design and specify the right kitchen solution quickly, easily and accurately. Kitchautomation helps Foodservice professionals do more and sell more whether they are in the office or in the field – working in Revit or on a mobile device. Join the movement: