Recent alumni sell online restaurant ordering business to LivingSocial

Three 2007 Case Western Reserve University graduates made national business news recently when their restaurant online ordering company, Onosys, was bought by daily deal-maker LivingSocial.

The acquisition will enable the Cleveland company of 20 to accelerate growth, adding 15 to 20 new employees by year’s end, said Stan Garber, Onosys sales director and one of the founders.

Alex Yakubovich, operations director and co-founder of Onosys

“We weren’t looking to sell,” Garber said. “But LivingSocial just launched a new merchants division, working with hundreds of thousands of businesses—many of them restaurants—and the deal just clicked.

“We’ll continue to focus on what we do and just grow.”

Garber and his co-founders launched the venture while still undergraduates. The three grew up as friends in greater Cleveland’s eastern suburbs and had already started a web-design company when they came to Case Western Reserve.

Garber was a business major, Alex Yakubovich, now operations director, majored in mechanical engineering and Oleg Fridman, now technical director, majored in computer science.

Garber said Lev Gonick, vice president of Information Technology Services and chief information officer, supported them from the start.

Stan Garber, sales director and co-founder of Onosys

“Stan and his friends were classic ‘three guys and a garage,’ Gonick said. “They were smart and hungry with ideas and passion.”

While still living in residence halls, the three sold web development services across the region and also on campus. Gonick paired the group with a mentor, Bill Bradfield, who had started a call center service company called Perceptis. Bradfield, Gonick and Bob Sopko, a manager at ITS, set the trio up in an office in what is now Alumni House.

“We had interns helping us some years,” Garber said. “We used the Weatherhead computer lab, where students used our software and gave us feedback.”

Oleg Fridman, technical director and co-founder of Onosys

Rascal House Pizza, on Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, became their first client. They were nearing graduation when Sopko introduced them to a longtime friend who had heard about them and wanted to know more. Lee Zapis of Westlake invested $500,000 in their new venture and the students shifted all their efforts to online ordering.

Soon, students, staff, faculty and locals were using Onosys software whenever they ordered online from Rascal House, Quizno’s down the street or Georgio’s Oven Fresh Pizza on Cedar Road.

After Fridman, Yakubovich and Garber graduated, Onosys added Panera Bread bakeries and Applebee’s restaurants; today they count more than 70 chains as clients.

The business grew 100 percent annually the last four years and assisted clients at more than 4,000 locations with more than $90 million in online orders last year. And now, Onosys plans to step up the pace.

“That’s good news for Cleveland and Case [Western Reserve], because we’re staying here,” Garber said. “We’re going to be hiring web developers and IT support. And we appreciate Case [Western Reserve] grads.”