Titan CEO and headline sponsor Wipfli LLP are pleased to announce the 2022 Titan 100. The Titan 100 program recognizes Colorado’s Top 100 CEOs & C-level executives. They are the area’s most accomplished business leaders in their industry using criteria that include demonstrating exceptional leadership, vision, and passion. Collectively the 2022 Titan 100 and their companies employ more than 34,000 individuals and generate over $22 billion dollars in annual revenues. This year’s honorees will be published in a limited-edition Titan 100 book and profiled exclusively online. They will be honored at the annual awards ceremony on June 2nd, 2022 and will be given the opportunity to interact and connect multiple times throughout the year with their fellow Titans.
“These passionate and driven Titans of industry exemplify the true definition of leadership. We honor them for their unwavering commitment to building their businesses, shaping our communities, and making Colorado a better place to work and live.” says Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEO.
The Titan 100 embody the true diversity of Colorado’s business landscape. Representing technology, manufacturing, healthcare, construction/real estate, finance, professional services, hospitality, entertainment, transportation, and non-profit organizations among many others. The annual Titan 100 awards celebration on June 2nd will be held at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum located in Denver, CO. Wings Over the Rockies is located on the former grounds of Lowry Air Force Base. The museum is housed in the historic Hangar No. 1, built in 1939, and features dozens of historic airplanes, space vehicles, and interactive exhibits. This unique cocktail-style awards event will gather 100 Titans of Industry for an evening unlike anything that exists in the Colorado business community.
“On behalf of all the partners and associates at Wipfli we congratulate all the Titan100 winners. It’s an honor to recognize this diverse group of leaders in the Colorado business community. We appreciate the lasting impact each leader has made, and continues to make, in building organizations of significance both here in Colorado and abroad. Your ingenuity and creativity have set you apart, and the honor of being seen as an industry Titan is richly deserved,” says Pete Aden Partner at Wipfli.
This year, in addition to celebrating 100 Titans of Industry, Titan CEO and Wipfli will be presenting the Titan 100 Hall of Fame. This prestigious honor has been awarded to only twelve Titan 100 honorees as part of this inaugural commemoration.
Titan award recipients are allowed to make the Titan 100 list up to three years, with each year getting progressively more difficult. To make it to the Hall of Fame, Titans must complete on-camera interviews and answer a series of questions where they do not know what will be asked in front of a live judging committee.
The Titan 100 Hall of Fame are a class of elite entrepreneurs that have consistently shown over the past three years their ability to demonstrate the characteristics of a Titan who is a pillar of our community. The Hall of Fame recipients have been noted in bold and with an asterisk.
DESCRIPTION: WHO WE ARE
SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions is a restaurant technology and innovations company that synchronizes people, process, and technology to enhance ordering, improve guest experiences, and increase restaurant sales and profits.
With billions of dollars in restaurant orders processed, SYNQ3 has been helping restaurants increase average check, improve up-sell, enhance order-processing, and provide better customer service both over the phone and on location for several years.
SYNQ3 works with more than 30 top restaurant brands servicing thousands of locations nationwide. With a passion for innovation, the SYNQ3 team continues to re-imagine the restaurant industry and provide transformational services and technologies — such as AI, Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) — for marquee restaurant brands.
SERVE TO LEAD: EMPOWERING AND UPLIFTING OTHERS
Beyond the transactional aspects of business and management, Steve radically believes in the principle of service-based leadership. He invests in others and actively seeks to develop and align his employee’s sense of purpose with the company’s mission. In everything that he does, Steve focuses on serving instead of commanding — demonstrating humility instead of brandishing authority.
Beyond this, Steve desires to be known for more than just the solutions and technologies his company provides. He desires to be known for the example he sets — and the heart and soul behind his brand. And SYNQ3 has proven, through its resounding success, that the fruits of servant-based leadership are bountiful.
SYNQ3 Restaurant solutions is what it is today due to Steve’s cultivation of deep employee relationships… and his commitment to the growth of others. In turn, trusted employees continue to grow and develop as future leaders — helping to ensure the long-term viability and success of the business.
MISSION: WHAT WE LIVE FOR
Through an innovative combination of People, Process, and Technology... we provide off-premise guests with frictionless solutions to engage with the world’s leading restaurant brands.
A TRUE HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE: FROM RESTAURANT OPERATIONS TO TRANSFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES
Steve Bigari’s journey into the restaurant industry began over two decades ago — as the owner and operator of a wildly successful chain of McDonald’s restaurants across the Colorado Front Range. Earning quite the name for himself amongst other franchise operators and McDonald’s leadership early on, Steve was called to serve as the Operations Leader and Innovation Chairman. A true innovator at heart, Steve’s leadership aided the company in massive technological and process advancements over the next 20 years — resulting in 141 months of positive comparable sales.
After opening his 12th McDonald’s restaurant location in 2002, Steve acquired four computers in the back office and established a call center for accelerating takeout orders. It wasn’t long after that Steve set the world record for processing drive-thru orders — serving 374 vehicles in one hour; or, one car every 9-10 seconds, for those curious.
It didn’t take long for other restaurant owners to take notice; and soon, Bigari was fielding questions about how he was using technology to reinvent customer service. This served to further embolden Steve’s ambitions… leading him to sell his franchise outlets in pursuit of the future.
In 2006, Steve’s experiences culminated in a call to transform restaurant ordering — to make it easier, faster, and more efficient using radical technical advances and innovations of the past decade. As a result, SYNQ3 was born… established with the overarching goal of transforming the way people order, pay for, and pick up food. Or, in other words, to create the future of guest-to-restaurant interaction.
At the start of SYNQ3, Steve disrupted the status quo for restaurant takeout ordering by providing off-premise, call-center services that rerouted orders to specialists, and then entered them into the restaurants’ Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. This order-taking service served to greatly increase restaurant volume and order processing speeds, while simultaneously enabling the restaurant to focus on what they do best — food preparation and delivery. As such, SYNQ3 became the world’s leading restaurant order-taking company — impacting thousands of the world’s greatest restaurant brands and processing over $1-billion in sales for their partners.
Always being at the forefront of convenience trends, Steve strongly believed that the restaurant industry was on the cusp of major change as industry trends began to shape new dimensions within the restaurant space — such as anticipating guest preferences, reducing wait times, and more. Guest preferences were beginning to change, and Steve saw it coming long before anyone else.
Never a man to sit idle, Steve began charting plans for a new, unprecedented course for SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions in 2014. Setting his sights on becoming the world’s leading restaurant innovation company, Steve pushed SYNQ3 to begin development of an AI, Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology — SYNQ Voice.
And, on May 14, 2018… SYNQ3 took the industry-first, fully-automated order… for Chipotle Mexican Grill.
For those that know him, Steve has often joked that the restaurant business is the one industry that technology has forgotten. And, despite Chipotle taking an early plunge into the automated restaurant order-taking realm… the restaurant industry was, as a whole, still noticeably reticent to adopt bleeding-edge technologies.
But that all dramatically changed in March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down indoor dining. Ironically, only a month earlier, Bigari spoke at the International Franchise Association Convention as one of the keynote speakers, outlining his ideas of a frictionless, convenient future — built around automation, take-out, and food delivery. And the need for immediate adoption.
The pandemic simply served to validate Steve and accelerate SYNQ3’s vision for the restaurant industry.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SYNQ3’s solutions helped many of their full-AI, restaurant partners handle unprecedented surges in takeout orders; with some seeing spikes of more than 200-percent. And, in 2020 alone, SYNQ3’s AI technology processed more than 23-million restaurant transactions as the pandemic forced restaurants to move solely to takeout services.
Working with incredible franchises like Noodles & Company, Applebee’s Bar and Grill, and many others… SYNQ3’s technologies helped thousands of restaurants adapt to their guests’ desires, improve their operations, and save jobs.
Behind Steve’s leadership, SYNQ3 has grown into the world-leading, technology-enabled services company — providing front-end ordering and back-end fulfillment processes for over 12,000 restaurant locations across 30 marquee restaurant chains. Since the company’s inception, SYNQ3 has processed billions in sales for its clients.
And, this is only the beginning.
A VISION OF TRANSFORMATION
Over the next 5 years, we will be returning to our roots bringing conversational voice automation in Drive Thru to the masses.
Greater convenience is the key to guest happiness. SYNQ Voice, Rapid Reorder, and SYNQ3’s other technologies make ordering easy and convenient for each guest while also allowing them to connect with the restaurant in the way they feel most comfortable — call, text, by voice, through their car, with the AI, or with a person.
These technologies also make orders more efficient for restaurants. Using SYNQ Voice, restaurants can increase their average check, secure more orders, and alleviate the stress of trying to manage off-premise. These technologies also help restaurant chains and franchisees maintain profits regardless of declines in dine-in… or crippling labor shortages.
Utilizing automation, and other innovative technologies, SYNQ3 will redefine the future of the restaurant industry. Within the next 5 years, restaurant guests throughout the world will be able to order from anywhere, through any channel they desire — be it voice, text, chat, online, mobile, in-car commerce, or IoT. And should they choose, restaurant guests will be recognized, offered the opportunity to re-order from their frequent orders, and pay via their preferred method both safely and instantly.
Beyond this, restaurant guest orders will be GEO-synched with their arrival — ensuring their food is always hot, fresh, and prepared just-in-time. These incredible technological advancements will also enable restaurant customers to experience unprecedented levels of service via any channel they desire — be it to-go, delivery, catering, drive-thru, or in-restaurant.
And the best part is… lines will virtually no longer exist; because restaurant guest loyalty accounts will seamlessly integrate into the entire process — resulting in a VIP experience for anyone who desires it.
Welcome to the future of convenience.
THE MARK OF A TITAN: ROCKING THE BOAT
Business Titans share a common characteristic: a strong vision for what they want to achieve and the relentless pursuit of that vision. It’s what drives leaders to launch businesses, take risks, work excessively long hours, and devote their lives to a singular purpose.
Steve Bigari, the founder and CEO of SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions, is a Titan in every sense of the word. Always looking to the future, status quo has never been something that Bigari strives for; frankly, he finds normal to be pretty boring. As such, Steve has never shied-away from “rocking the boat.” A true Imagineer of the restaurant business, Steve’s vast knowledge of “all things restaurant” continuously challenges traditional paradigms — and is one of the driving forces behind dramatic change within the restaurant industry.
Over the past decade, SYNQ3 has developed and successfully deployed revolutionary technologies and human-backed, AI ordering solutions. These industry-leading technologies are radically disrupting old notions — and paving the path for the coming wave of restaurant disruption.
Indeed, Steve is leading this charge. With significantly more than 50-million automated transactions processed to date, SYNQ3’s artificial intelligence ecosystem, SYNQ Voice, is truly unmatched in the restaurant space. In fact, the incredible automation capabilities powering SYNQ Voice have garnered significant national attention in recent years.
His innovative spark has led to the development, and ownership, of three significant restaurant industry patents… and he continues to revolutionize the restaurant business in new ways on a daily basis. In everything, Steve strives to enhance the offerings of food service companies by cultivating deeper guest relationships through the synchronization of people, process, and technology.
Today, Steve works with some of the most prestigious restaurant businesses in the world — including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Noodles & Company, MOD Pizza, Applebee’s, and many others. His company, SYNQ3, has processed billions in restaurant takeout transactions working with more than 30 premier restaurant brands. SYNQ3 is the undisputed leader in the space.
But even more than this, SYNQ3 is also a leader in corporate responsibility… providing jobs for neurodiverse people, including people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
A LIFE WELL LED
At SYNQ3, Steve developed an off-premise, AI platform, SYNQ Voice, to secure takeout orders for restaurants enabling them to process more transactions, increase upsell, virtually eliminate dropped calls, and meet demand without needing to hire more employees. This AI is an adaptive, conversational technology that walks guests through their order in the manner best suited for them — fast, slow, repeating options, providing descriptions, suggesting similar items, answering questions, and more. SYNQ Voice can also support emerging ordering channels, such as SMS-text ordering and in-car commerce.
Beyond this, however, Steve’s skills and concepts transcend food service. Bigari is one of only a small number of people, globally, to be inducted into the lifetime Fellowship of the Ashoka Fellows — an honor bestowed upon only top-tier innovators worldwide for their focus not just on profit, but on community. Steve is also radically dedicated to social entrepreneurialism.
With a reputation of success and entrepreneurship, Steve is currently listed in the top five percent of restaurant consultants for the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG). He worked for 20 years as a McDonald’s Operations Leader and the Innovation Chairman, aiding the company in massive technological and process advancements that led to 141 months of positive comparable sales. During his tenure with McDonald’s, Steve also set the world record for drive-thru orders processed — 374 vehicles in just one hour.
As a national speaker and author of “The Box You Got: Transforming the World You Live In,” Steve is a thought leader in technology innovations and business solutions for restaurants and others. He has spoken at dozens of restaurant leadership conferences and meetings, the U.S. Treasury, the FDIC, the United States Air Force Space Command… and other prestigious groups.
In 2017, he spoke on a technology panel with executives from Papa John’s, Olo, and Interactions. He even served as an innovation keynote speaker for the prestigious International Bankers Association conference. Further bolstering his resume, Steve was featured in “The World is Flat” and has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Denver Post, and Rolling Stone… to name a few. And, in 2021, Steve Bigari was featured in Business Insider as one of the restaurant industry’s most influential Tech Power Players responsible for redefining how restaurants operate.
Of all his accomplishments, Steve is most proud of his work within the community of Colorado. From helping families in need across the Front Range through America’s Family for many years, to being honored by the city for helping save a Christmas event held for underprivileged families, Bigari has done much in his life to provide many with a helping hand.
In recognition of his one-of-a-kind charitable spirit, Steve Bigari is the only two-time recipient of the McDonald’s Ronald Award — an honor rewarding lifetime achievement in selfless community service.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AND FAMILY
Steve, and his wife Brenda, have five children and four grandchildren. As strong proponents of adoption, three of their children, Anna, Zachary, and Matthew are adopted.
Nearly 30 years ago, Bigari helped build the local Ronald McDonald House — while also serving as its president on three separate occasions. His oldest daughter, Sara, cut the ribbon for the grand opening when she was just 3 years old.
Today, Sara has assisted with building the brand-new, $11M Ronald McDonald House of Southern Colorado… and proudly serves as its newly elected board president.
It goes without saying that Steve Bigari is infinitely proud of his family and the legacy of love that they embody.
IF YOU BUILD IT…
“Capacity begets volume. If you build it, they MIGHT come. If you don't they DEFINATELY won't!”
MEET THE NEEDS OF OTHERS. ALWAYS.
Leadership is not telling. It is showing and inspiring. This is one of the great countercultural ideas of our time, especially when it comes to business. The best expression of leadership comes from serving the people in your life — your employees, friends, and family. I serve my team by being present for them, listening to their ideas, and removing the barriers to their success.
Disruptive innovation is in my blood. It always has been. In this, the blessing is also the curse as I can’t seem to ever be completely satisfied with things the way they are. In that way, at least for me, “satisfaction” can lead to complacency. As such, pursuing perfection is essential to staying on top. The great news is that balance can be gained by taking short breaks along the journey to celebrate accomplishments and only then moving on to the next mountain to climb. This delicate balancing act brings a contentment with knowing you are always doing your best, while never being completely satisfied with the way things are.