Luke Irving is hungry. Literally. I ask about a coffee, but he needs food.
I’ve grabbed him between calls, and while I go for a long black, Luke tucks enthusiastically into a Kindred Road Tuna sammy.
I find it interesting, because in these times of the highly managed public image, many CEO’s would probably stay hungry until after I’d left. It’s a small observation but telling nonetheless: Luke Irving is very comfortable with who he is.
By his own admission, he failed pretty much everything at school. “The learning environment just didn’t suit me.” he reckons. Which isn’t entirely true. As a Palmy Boys High fourth former, Luke impressively convinced not just the School board, but McDonald’s big wigs to let him open a franchise in place of the school’s ‘rather shitty’ tuck shop. It won Luke a Young Enterprise award, putting a decent amount of walking around money in the shorts pocket of the ambitious teen.
This is telling too: I doubt there’s much Luke Irving couldn’t sell you.
I’m betting it’s this quiet determination that very much drives Fingermark, the technology company he founded. Luke’s fascination with touch screen technology led to the development of an automated shoe selector for Rebel Sport. That opened a global opportunity with Subway, which didn’t go anywhere, leading to one with Restaurant brands, which did.
Their mastery of touch screen systems caught the eye of the American parent Yum, who worldwide own KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. As you read this, Fingermark are in the middle of a massive rollout of self-service kiosks and digital menus to well over 10,000 locations worldwide.
The new shiny thing is something called IQ tech, which uses cameras and AI to help staff anticipate customer needs at the drive through. The next time those fries come through the window super quick, it’s a safe bet to say that Fingermark technology is behind it. IQ sort of completes their metamorphosis into a data company.
There’s something big coming down the pipe too, but Luke won’t be drawn on what. “It’ll be a bit of a coup though,” he teases. When you hear it come from the mouth of the guy who brought the Golden Arches to Palmy Boys High, you should have no doubt about it.