INTERVIEW: REA HUNTLEY CEO OF LAVII,INC.
By Sarai Butler
September 14, 2020
Rea Huntley, the CEO of Lavii Inc, is not only the CEO of an emerging technology company but a Black Female CEO and Owner of an emerging technology company. In a world where African American women in the technology space is not common, she will surely change your mind on the requirement and forward thinking of African American women in all technology fields. But, Rea Huntley did not just stumble on new technology needed in the restaurant industry. She has a solid background in IT and Networking, with one of the highest certifications obtainable in Cisco Technology. Rea Huntley's credentials definitely qualify her to be an authority on rising technology. And her background brings an innovative spin to the smart locker contactless delivery system when retrieving food orders from any restaurant. The main office for Lavii Inc. is located in the Washington, DC area. And, Lavii Inc Smart Lockers are located in Washington, DC and Brandywine and Waldorf, MD.
Read on for Rea Huntley's words on being an entrepreneur, future expansion plans and what sets Lavii Inc apart from their competitors.
The original name for the business was Xpress Grab and Go and is now Lavii Inc. How did you come up with the name Lavii Inc?
After doing some research, Lavii was chosen because the meaning of the name represents ambition, success, endurance and motivation. All of those adjectives resonate with the mission and goal of our business.
What inspired you to start a business of placing smart lockers in restaurant locations?
I placed an order at a Tropical Smoothie close to my home. At the time, a lot of restaurants were using an open shelving system for customers to pick up their orders. Unfortunately, my order was not ready when I arrived. So, I still had to stand in line to pick up my order. I was frustrated because I was tight on time that day and expected my order to be ready. I thought that there has to be a better way to make order pickup quicker and more convenient for the customer. And that's where the idea of the smart locker for made-to-order food pickup came to me.
How long has your business been established?
It's been up and running since June 2019.
Photos credit: Lavii Lockers
How did you go about the process of building a prototype locker and starting a pilot program in Crab Boss in Brandywine and Shark Bar in Waldorf?
I researched online regarding how to build a smart locker and presented it to my, now, two business partners who are knowledgeable in software development. We, three, came together and built our prototype of a smart locker using Raspberry Pi and proprietary configurations. After that, we researched different ways we can develop different locker systems and the ways we needed them to work. Crab Boss was at the top of our list of places we thought we could partner with to place our smart lockers. I actually stopped by Crab Boss to pick up my food order and spoke to one of the owners about our smart locker system. A week later, Crab Boss was on board.
Has starting your own business been everything you have expected?
With owning another IT Consulting Business that handles government contracts, Lavii Inc. is a bit different because of the pace and acceleration of this business. We have faced different hurdles that we have overcome. And we just have to figure out different solutions to the problems that we face.
Do you have any plans to expand your Lavii Inc. lockers into more locations?
We are pursuing other restaurants in the area. And our hope is to saturate the chain restaurant market.
What separates Lavii Inc from your competitors?
We are focused on restaurants and not parcel pickup. We provide restaurants with a viable solution for contactless order pickup, which will help restaurants increase their sales and provide the customers with minimal interaction.
Why should a restaurant want to use your specific Lavii Inc. Smart Locker solution?
We thoroughly explain the simple process of using a smart locker to the restaurant owner and decision makers. And, most importantly, the customer can be in and out of the restaurant establishment within 30 seconds.
What are your thoughts on the visibility of Black Owned Businesses and the importance of patronizing and partnering with other Black Owned Businesses?
Currently, black owned businesses in the area are a real focus. All of our lockers have been placed in black owned restaurants.
What is your most important piece of advice for an aspiring entrepreneur?
Believe in yourself. Stay dedicated and disciplined to pursue your dreams. Anything is possible.
What does owning a black business mean to you?
It means that there are other opportunities out here for African Americans other than sports and entertainment. We are showing the world that we can tap into this tech space. And not only are we black owned, we are woman owned too. We are changing the trajectory on black and women owned businesses in technology.
To learn more about Lavii, Inc - visit: www.lavii-inc.com