By Chris Mincher
Wednesday, March 29, 2006 5:00 PM
JASON A.T. LUNN, 25
JOB: Vice president of technology for Fetchfood.com, working part-time from Berwyn Heights, Md.
SALARY: Lunn has made about $90,000 in company stock since Fetchfood launched in October 2004.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's in computer science from the University of Maryland
WHAT HE DOES: Lunn manages the Fetchfood.com site, which acts as a middleman for eateries that don't have their own Web presence. The site directs customers to restaurants who deliver, serves up their menus and takes online orders. Lunn must fit the site to all kinds of cuisine: one of Fetchfood's first clients, for example, was a Chinese restaurant, from which customers ordered complete entrees. But when a sub shop and deli joined up, Lunn had to design ways of letting customers design their sandwich orders online. "If a customer can't get whatever they want online the same as if they went into the restaurant, it doesn't work," he said.
WOULD YOU WANT HIS JOB? You can't speak geek to customers. Most of the restaurants Fetchfood deals with are not especially computer-savvy. They may not understand either the possibilities or limitations of doing business through the Web. "It's hard to convince people who haven't already moved their business online why they should do so now," he said. "We make it as easy for them as possible, but sometimes there's things you have to explain, and they're either skeptical or need help to understand."
HOW YOU CAN GET HIS JOB: You'll need two things to be successful at a new online venture: knowledge of programming (or a willingness to learn) and, most importantly, the entrepreneurial spirit. "These kinds of things can really work if you have an idea and believe in it," he said. Lunn encourages self-starters who want to take their ideas online to consider thinking of ways traditional commerce -- i.e., going to a store and buying something -- can be translated into a Web-based business. "There have been so many ideas, and a lot haven't worked," he said. "It's not easy to find something that people are willing to pay for." As for the technical end, he said, programming skills can be learned from any number of sources (classes, books), but the most important is simply "using them every day until you figure out for yourself all the shortcuts and quirks and effective ways of making it work." Get help anywhere you can, and experiment as much as possible before attempting to make your site live.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Web Developers' Association of America
This article first appeared in the Express on October 3, 2005.