Interview with Omar Hernandez, CEO & founder of ONEBIT
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
Independent business owners need a holistic view on their cash flows. However, capturing such insights across third party systems can prove difficult. ONEBIT aims to change that, for good.
Omar Hernandez is the CEO and founder of ONEBIT, a business intelligence platform for independent businesses. ONEBIT enables owners to gain a clearer picture of their business’ health, aggregating sales and expense data processed by third party systems.
"Businesses today have more options when it comes to selling, both in-store and online," said Omar. "Tracking all of this information accurately along with their business' cost can be a challenge for many independent business owners. ONEBIT helps solve this problem by centralizing all of their financial data in one place and providing valuable information using AI and machine learning."
ONEBIT is currently in a private test phase, trialing the platform with several Chicago area restaurants and online shops. Omar says that the feedback from these business owners has been extremely positive, as he and his team continue to enhance ONEBIT’s algorithm and machine learning capabilities. Omar graduated from DePaul in 2015 with his degree in Business Administration. While at DePaul, he ran a side business in the event management space, fueling his passion for entrepreneurship following graduation. Omar and the ONEBIT team currently work out of 1871, a major startup incubator in Chicago.
Q: Can you tell us a little about ONEBIT?
Omar: “For small businesses, point of sale systems capture so much information around transactions and customers. However, not all business owners know how to use that data to improve their business operations. They often lack the time or resources to analyze all the data that they have compiled in their systems. With ONEBIT, we aim to go beyond the traditional dashboard. Leveraging machine learning and AI, we provide business owners with tailored recommendations to make better, more sound financial decisions.
For example, ONEBIT can identify if a business owner is spending a higher amount on a particular category, such as inventory. We immediately notify the business owner of this, and provide an actionable recommendation to cut back on excessive spending to help ensure their business remains profitable.
If you own a small business, think of it as getting a notification to your phone which reads, ‘this is what we noticed with your business, and these are actionable steps you can take to improve things.’ That is the vision for our product.”
Q: How did you get the idea for ONEBIT?
Omar: “My mom’s always told me about the inefficiencies in the food and beverage industry. She has a lot of experience in that space. Two big ones are inventory tracking and labor cost management, and there are plenty of others, too.
The idea for ONEBIT really came together early on during the 2020 pandemic. I had friends and family in the F&B industry who lost their jobs and source of income because of the COVID-19's impact on local business. We wanted to help these businesses get back on their feet, financially.
Around this point, my team and I started interviewing various business owners. By speaking with them, we began to identify common financial and operational challenges that these owners face.
For example, tracking their business’ financial information: many small business owners outsource financial reporting tasks to accountants or CPAs, with the idea that they’re handling the books. This oftentimes creates information silos for businesses, where business owners aren’t active in the management and reporting side of things. With ONEBIT, we want our recommendations to help owners make the right decisions for their business, regularly.”
Q: What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
Omar: “As an undergraduate, I ran my own event management side business in the nightlife industry. Frequenting these restaurants and bars for gigs, it allowed me to make a lot of valuable contacts and connections.
I always felt that, after graduating, I wanted to pursue my own business. I wasn’t exactly sure I wanted to go into the technology space, but something just pushed me more towards tech.”
Q: As an entrepreneur, what skills have helped you the most?
Omar: “If you’re going to launch a business, you need to know how to manage people. I’ve always considered myself a servant leader, as I genuinely enjoy engaging with the people I work with.
It takes a team to build something great, so you want to bring on the right people. At the same time, you should want to help them advance in their careers, too.
When I bring people onto my team, one key quality I evaluate is how entrepreneurial are they? I don’t just want people to work for me – I want people to be able to do things for themselves, so I try to help them work towards whatever their unique career goals are.”
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Omar: “I love the ability to set your own schedule. Of course, you have to be disciplined to do that and still get things done. There will be days with long hours that'll require you to put in that extra grind, but the fun part is definitely being able to make your own decisions as a business owner.”
Q: What would be key activities you recommend student entrepreneurs invest their time in?
Omar: “Start early. As an entrepreneur, that is how you truly learn. The sooner you can make mistakes and learn from them, the better.
If you’re a student and interested in entrepreneurship, I’d recommend starting a simple side business or freelancing – to help you gain experience. Those experiences will be invaluable to you down the line because they will pay off when you launch your bigger business.
I would also recommend taking a course on financial management, or at the very least, watch some online videos and learn more about the topic. I think having a solid understanding of cash flow management separates successful businesses from unsuccessful ones.
You don’t have to understand everything about finance or accounting, but if you at least understand the basics, you can hire someone who can help you manage all of that.”
To learn more about ONEBIT, check out their website at https://onebitapp.com/, and follow them on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can reach out to Omar directly at email@example.com, or by connecting with him on LinkedIn.