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Bo Davis - Co-Founder & CEO MarginEdge

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About this episode

#46. Meet Bo Davis, the co-founder and CEO of MarginEdge, a cutting-edge back office technology tailored for restaurants, streamlining operations from accounting to POS systems and beyond, encompassing all facets of kitchen management.

Despite dropping out of high school, Bo's insatiable thirst for knowledge propelled him to attain two master's degrees, one in finance and another in artificial intelligence from Northwestern University, showcasing his dedication to continuous learning.

Prior to MarginEdge, Bo's entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish multiple successful ventures in both the restaurant and technology sectors. Notably, MarginEdge's commitment to fostering a positive workplace culture was recognized with a prestigious seventh-place ranking in Glassdoor's nationwide list of best places to work.

Throughout the episode, Bo shares invaluable insights into building a thriving organizational culture, delving into the nuances of restaurant unit economics, exploring both the triumphs and challenges faced in the industry.

Tune in to gain a deeper understanding of the restaurant industry's dynamics and entrepreneurial pursuits, accompanied by engaging discussions and practical advice. Enjoy the conversation and join the dialogue on the evolving landscape of entrepreneurship.

Where to find Bo Davis:


Where to find host Josh Sharkey:






Just give the code "meezpod24" to your meez Services Manager for 25 FREE Recipe Uploads (must be a meez customer to qualify)

What We Cover

(05:13) Bo Davis' background

(05:38) How being a parent has impacted the way Bo runs a company

(16:03) The reasoning behind MarginEdge's strong company culture

(23:29) The irony behind teammates being eager to share the pain

(25:59) Separation agreements

(33:27) What good restaurant economics look like today

(37:56) How Bo handles mistakes

(44:29) What makes Bo really really angry

(49:48) Why people work at MarginEdge

(51:47) Final thoughts from Bo


[00:00:00] Josh Sharkey:

You're listening to season two of The meez Podcast. I'm your host Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, a culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, we're going to talk to high performers in the food business, everything from Chefs to CEOs, technologists, writers, investors, and more about how they innovate and operate and how they consistently execute at a high level day after day.


And I would really love it if you could drop us a five star review anywhere that you listen to your podcast. That could be Apple, that could be Spotify, could be Google. I'm not picky Anywhere works, but I really appreciate the support and as always, I hope you enjoy the show.


My guest today is the co-founder and CEO of MarginEdge, a back office technology for restaurants, connecting, accounting, POS, and more. So all your kitchen operations. Name's Bo Davis. Bo and I met years ago, actually, while I was still running restaurants, and we've been friends ever since. He's one of those people that you realize more and more over time how smart they really are.


Bo actually dropped out of high school, which I didn't know, but he still managed to get two master's degrees. One in finance and then 30 years later another degree in data science from Northwestern. So he's definitely an avid learner and he's built several successful companies. So before MarginEdge, he had a couple others.


He had restaurants and another tech company. Most importantly for him recently, uh, MarginEdge won seventh out of the entire country from Glassdoor of best places to work. So we talk a lot about some of the tactical advice related to building great culture before digging into restaurant unit economics, the good, the bad, and sometimes scary.


I'm curious what you think about our last topic as we start to talk about what it's like to be an entrepreneur and what it means to be an entrepreneur. Shoot me a DM if you agree or disagree or just any thoughts that you have. I'd love to hear what you think. And as always, I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

[00:02:00] Josh Sharkey:

Welcome to the show. We're live. So thank you.

[00:02:03] Bo Davis:

Super excited to be here, Josh. I look forward to talking to you. I always enjoy our conversations, so doing it recorded should be interesting.

[00:02:09] Josh Sharkey:

I know. Well, I find I'm usually picking your brain anyways, so I'm going to take today to pick your brain even more. You know, for, I'm going to wind everyone up a little bit, and then maybe you can fill in the blanks. Okay. About your background, because it's pretty, it's pretty impressive. I didn't know. It's a little random, but. Well, I didn't know you actually dropped out of high school, yet still have two master's degrees.

That's pretty awesome.

[00:02:29] Bo Davis:

A little random, as I said.

[00:02:31] Josh Sharkey:

And you started a company long before MarginEdge, and you also obviously started restaurants, which we'll talk about, but an educational platform that you sold to Blackboard. What I didn't know, I knew you were like digging into data science recently.


Obviously you went to college, I'm not going to know how many decades ago. It was a while ago. Yeah, but like literally two years ago, you got a master's from Northwestern in data science, which I had no idea. I knew you were taking classes. I thought they were like a fun little like, you know, laissez faire, like nighttime data science class, but you're actually like. Got a degree in data science.

[00:03:04] Bo Davis:

Yeah, it's actually, it's, it's technically artificial intelligence and it's out of the engineering school at Northwestern.

[00:03:10] Josh Sharkey:

That's amazing, man. It was fun. Well, can you just fill in the blanks a little bit about who you are?

[00:03:15] Bo Davis:

Yeah, so it is a little bit of a random walk. So yeah, I'm a high school dropout, went to community college, ended up getting out of college, a sixth, I think forever, but finally graduated.


And then started a software company right out of college, higher ed tech, as you mentioned, a company called Prometheus that I sold to Blackboard. And that was. 27 years ago. So I started that in 97 and it was actually my first job out of college. So I was a kid and then I wasn't sure what to do. So my wife and I went into the peace corps.


So we moved to Eastern Europe, did a couple of years in the peace corps, still wasn't sure what to do. So I went to graduate school and did my first master's in finance in London. And there decided to go into the restaurant business with a couple of buddies. And so we hired a chef out of London and moved to DC, opened our first restaurant, did that for 10 years. And then in 2015, started MarginEdge

[00:03:59] Josh Sharkey:

So you and your wife were both in the Peace Corps together?

[00:04:02] Bo Davis:

Yeah. So we got engaged when I was running my first company, my first software company back in the nineties. And then when I sold the company, we weren't sure what we wanted to do. And she had just finished a master's in history.


And I just. You know, had an exit, so I had flexibility and, and we realized that like, this was probably the only point in our lives that we would have that flexibility until we retired. And so we were like brainstorming ideas and she said, you know, I always wanted to join the Peace Corps when I was in college.


And so we looked into it and it felt like a great chance to give back and go see the world. And so, yeah, we spent two years in Eastern Europe together. She was a teacher of English. I was doing economic development in a little tiny town called Krivopolanka in the corner of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, middle of nowhere. This is definitely a learning experience.

[00:04:44] Josh Sharkey:

So, my sister was in the Peace Corps in Mali, in West Africa for a few years, and then she went back to Malawi, I think, actually not for the Peace Corps at that point, but originally the Peace Corps in Mali, but it was, it was a process, and to get, and it's somewhat random who got in where, like how did you and your wife end up getting to the same place?

[00:05:01] Bo Davis:

So the deal with the Peace Corps is if you are married upon application, you go together. Ah. So we actually got assigned together. Their story's a little bit funny though, in that we applied and we wanted to go to Russia and we got accepted and we're going to Russia, we got married in June, we were leaving in August, and in July of that year, Putin threw the Peace Corps out of Russia.

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