This article was initially published on SeedToScale

How many of us will build a product in double quick time and give it out for free, all while running a young startup and that too while under quarantine? Madhulika Mukherjee did just that.

Madhulika headed back to India from the US in one of the last regular flights between the two countries before the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in late-March. She, like thousands of other travellers, was in government-mandated home quarantine, when she heard about the struggles of restaurant workers in the US. The startup she founded with Tushar Mishra, Delightree, was just six months old at the time, but she knew these restaurants, as they were prospects Delightree had been working with, and she wanted to help. She single-handedly built a free app that would make it easy for patrons to send in tips to their favorite restaurants and servers. In just 10 days, on the other side of the world, many workers started seeing money being sent to them on Venmo from some of their regular customers.

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The Delightree team

Madhulika is a consummate entrepreneur, with true empathy for her audience and a real product mindset to problem solving. That truly makes her the kind of founder we love to partner with.

We met Madhulika and Tushar earlier in 2020. They had been on an entrepreneurial journey before and at their earlier startup, Survaider, they created a solution that helped companies listen to their customers. Many of Survaider’s customers were small businesses and franchise stores, and as they spent time with them, they started seeing other areas where franchise owners in particular were unable to take advantage of technology. This led them to launch Delightree, to offer an app-based solution that takes care of all the tedious tasks of managing a franchise location. It caters to businesses that are run by a largely deskless workforce.

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With the Founders — Madhulika & Tushar

Owning a franchise location of an established business like a McDonalds or a Subway is a very popular means of achieving the American dream in the US. There are over 750,000 franchise locations in the US, and they employ over 75 million people. But, most franchise owners are unable to find technology solutions that are right-sized for them, leaving them to either operate largely on pen-and-paper, phone, and Excel, or struggle with software that leaves them frustrated as it was not made with them in mind.

Delightree is tailor-made for small businesses and franchise owners, so it solves their very specific challenges. It allows a business owner to get started with the operating procedures for their particular franchise almost instantly. They can then personalize some of those routines for their specific needs, like building their own workflow and assigning tasks. For store-based businesses in industries like retail and F&B, the workforce is deskless and typical technology solutions are not ‘on-the-move’. In the case of Delightree, the team can go about their business, with just the right nudges and prods from the Delightree mobile app to keep them on top of their tasks. The business operates a whole lot smoother, team members get things done on time, and the franchise can stay compliant with ease.

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Covid-19 had added a whole new burden on businesses that now have to meet guidelines from local authorities as well as national ones like the CDC. Fortunately, Delightree makes it easy for franchise owners to pull in the workflows for these guidelines, monitor compliance, and even make this visible to customers and help regain their trust in the safe operation of the business.

The intuitive nature of the app, its ease of use, and relevance to the market has already drawn multiple franchisees of brands like Subway, Pedros, Burger King, and Halal Guys across the US to Delightree.

Now that Madhulika and Tushar have trained their energy on solving the tech challenges of small businesses, we know that many business owners around the world will be better off because of their efforts. We’re delighted (no pun intended!) to be supporters of their journey, and wish them all the best for their mission.

— By: Dinesh Katiyar