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Meet Nicholas and Derek Skeba of CostBrain in Bucktown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicholas and Derek Skeba.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nicholas and Derek. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We started out as a research project at the University of Chicago. We were given a grant to study the restaurant industry. We interviewed 50 restaurants for the project and focused on learning their pain points. We learned that food costing is a major challenge for most restaurants. By working directly with a few restaurants we were able to develop software to help restaurants track their costs and improve their bottom line.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Developing the CostBrain software was a challenge. We wanted to try and solve all the problems restaurants had with one piece of software which left us trying to do too much. By focusing on a few core issues, we were able to hit the major pain points. This isn’t to say, that doing this gave us smooth running software.

Our early version of CostBrain was a little harder to use and left us working a lot with customers to explain how to use it. We had to adapt the software several times to get it to a point that was less confusing.

Other struggles we encountered was the restaurant industry itself. We actually had little experience in the food industry and no experience running a restaurant. We had to learn each part of how a restaurant operates in order to build the software.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with CostBrain – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
One thing that sets CostBrain apart from other restaurant software is our invoice scanning process. We quickly discovered that food vendors (the companies that ship to restaurants), often don’t provide digital copies of invoices. We created a process that can easily digitize invoices from restaurants, even from just a paper copy scanned in by a phones camera.

By scanning in invoices, CostBrain allows restaurants to skip the tedious part of invoice entry and get right into managing their costs. Our software links a restaurant’s invoices to recipes they have entered in the system. By linking recipes to invoices, restaurants can see exactly how their recipes margins have changed with each change in ingredient cost. Restaurant ingredient costs change all the time. The price of tomatoes can change from invoice to invoice. A restaurant can use this information to adjust menu pricing to keep their margins in check.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have a few plans we are working towards.

Our goal is to provide a full database of supplier products for restaurants. This will let us implement an ordering system to make it easier for restaurants to reorder their ingredients. This database will help us work towards our second goal.

We want to make it easier for restaurants to compare pricing among suppliers. Currently no easy way exists to compare prices between multiple restaurant suppliers.


  • Free Version – $0 – Provides Invoicing Only
  • Basic – $25 – Invoicing and Recipes
  • Full Access $40 – Invoices, Recipes, Sales, Inventory

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