Member Profile: Roger Hancock
July 25, 2016
Recall InfoLink, founded by Roger Hancock, is truly a story of hockey stick growth — it just took longer than Roger had hoped.
For more than fifteen years Roger led food and safety functions for Albertsons, a job that included the recall of numerous products. Roger says he completed approximately two hundred and fifty recalls a year at Albertsons, and remembers about 98% of them being painful. Misinformation and slow response time was a huge problem in the recall industry. One day someone finally said to Roger, “Maybe someone could do this better for the whole industry.”
This was the beginning of Recall InfoLink, a software system that is transforming the way products are recalled around the world. Recall InfoLink acts as a recall management system that makes generating, tracking, and verifying product recalls a more efficient process. The system provides notifications of a product recall to affected and unaffected businesses in the supply chain, as well as notification of the public and government agencies that may be affected.
For the past eight years Roger has been tirelessly working on his venture, and his hard work is really starting to pay off. If you can picture what hockey stick growth would look like, Roger has edged past the stick’s blade as Recall InfoLink has begun to grow exponentially.
Just how exponential has the company’s growth been? In just the first half of 2016, Recall InfoLink more than doubled the sales revenue it saw in all of 2015. If you’re involved with anything in the product recall department, it’s safe to say you will be hearing about Recall InfoLink soon enough.
Roger Hancock took some time away from a frantic workday to sit down at Trailhead and talk about Recall InfoLink’s growth over the past couple years. The following comes from that conversation.
What do you like about being an entrepreneur?
I like to build things, and I like to solve problems. These are the two driving forces behind my interest in entrepreneurship. During my professional career prior to founding Recall InfoLink I was constantly involved with these two functions, building things that solved problems. Throughout my experience working with recalls at Albertsons I learned all recalls have three components: items, instructions, and customers. Surrounding these three common traits, tens of thousands of companies have their own methods and practices for performing recall functions. The lack of symmetry between recall processes across the board causes problems, and I am naturally working to solve them.
How did you hear about Trailhead and what made you decide to become a member?
This is actually a great story. Before Trailhead opened I went to an entrepreneurial gathering in Boise, and as a door prize, I won a free six month membership to Trailhead. The space hadn’t opened yet, but I had casually known Trailhead’s Executive Director, Raino Zoller. I happened to pass him one day on the street and said, “Hey I got a Trailhead membership, are you open yet?” After some conversation he suggested I apply for Challenge Cup. With the combination between applying for Challenge Cup and having won a free Trailhead membership, I ended up at the startup hub more and more, both speaking with available mentors and working on my pitch.
Eventually I made a full transition to the space from where I was previously working, and am happy I did so. The whole process has been great timing, and Trailhead has been a great place for making connections. It really has been a great move.
While conducting market research for Recall InfoLink has anything ever surprised you?
The biggest surprise was there was no market for third-party management of recall data, yet. When I would talk to a customer about my product, it wasn’t like selling canned peas. Everyone knows about canned peas in the food industry. It is a familiar product and everyone buys them. Though in my case with Recall InfoLink, my competition was everyone’s own way of issuing recalls; I wasn’t competing against other recall management software systems because no one had developed one. I had to convince my customers that my way of managing recalls was better than theirs.
The second surprise I experienced in founding Recall InfoLink was how hard it was to initially get the conversation going. No one ever wants to talk about recalls, because they never want to be in a situation where they have to carry one out. The fact of the matter is recalls happen all the time, and companies should be prepared for them to happen.
Has Recall InfoLink undergone any strategic pivots?
The big pivot Recall InfoLink made was a game changer. We realized we needed to shift our focus from the manufacturing segment of the recall supply chain to the distributor segment of the supply chain. Only 1% of manufacturers perform a recall each year. Though, if you take a look at the 3,000 distributors of products in the United States, 100% of the time you will come across a company who is issuing recalls. Targeting this market propelled the company forward.
What does Recall InfoLink do for its customers?
Recall InfoLink is a comprehensive service that makes the business and compliance process for recalls faster than ever before. A cloud based system inputs various information about a recall into the platform, such as the recall’s items, instructions, and customers who need to hear about the event. The system allows the company to customize information based on who customers are. Once you input the recall information into the system and press go, the system manages the notification of all customers using email, phone, fax, and text technology, documents the action on the receiver end to close the loop for the communication piece, and gives the receiver a customized way to respond back to their supplier. Reports are then generated for compliance purposes, and statistics are kept on the recall throughout the whole process.
What is your long term vision for Recall InfoLink?
I want to transform the way products are recalled around the globe.
In what ways has Trailhead workspace pushed you on a path towards success?
Trailhead deepened my community outreach for validation and idea generation. Trailhead holds a diversity of thought from people who are generally walking down the same path. The coworking space taught me the community really does make a difference. Being part of a bigger entrepreneurial community is an advantage compared to not having that community. Its intangible how it’s better, but it is. Even if you come to Trailhead and you’re insulated, someone is going to approach you.
What has been your greatest success with Recall InfoLink so far?
Making recalls faster and easier for everybody that uses our system. Everyone who uses Recall InfoLink at some point says, “This is faster and easier than it used to be.”
What have been some of the greatest challenges you have faced in working on your company?
The greatest challenge was continuing to move forward when adoption was slow. I have been working on Recall InfoLink for 8 years, but today I am busier than ever. In fact, I haven’t had a day off from Recall InfoLink since this past May.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting a company in Boise?
I would say probably three things.
- Stay focused
- Be persistent, it might not happen as fast as you think it should
- Realistically evaluate the path you are on