QUEENS TECH CORNER: Robert Kaskel of Onhand

This week’s featured tech entrepreneur is Robert Kaskel, the proprietor of Thai Rock restaurant, a Rockaways success story for over a decade now. Recently, he launched Onhand, a technology platform to organize, track, and control business operations, their people and their assets.

What made you want to start a tech company in addition to your work running Thai Rock? The genesis of Onhand came out of the wake of Hurricane Sandy. As a small business owner who had to bounce back in the wake of a natural disaster that none of us could control, I gave a lot of thought to what I did to get back on my feet.

What I learned from that experience was just how key it is to stay on top of the thousand little responsibilities that come with owning a small business.

I wanted to provide opportunities for small businesses to better themselves without breaking the bank, and made Onhand’s services free to get started. Every company that uses Onhand gets a piece of my expertise, which includes over 30 years designing and developing Wall Street technologies, and a lot of valuable on-the-ground experience as a small business owner myself.

Photo: Drew Kerr/queenschefproject.com

What kind of an impact has COVID had on your company and your services? The year 2020 was obviously tough for restaurants. When COVID hit, I had to put Onhand, a project that had been in the works since 2016, on hold to focus on Thai Rock.

Business has definitely changed in the past year-and-a-half, impacting many parts of the business from operating hours, reduction in live performances and menu items, price changes, and even the relationship with our staff.

The good news is that I was able to finally launch Onhand in the fall of 2021. Since rolling out Onhand and onboarding new businesses, I’ve been learning so much more about small businesses, their struggles, and how they manage their activities.

I’m excited about the opportunity to help the business community, not only in the Rockaways, but across Queens, our city, and our country. Onhand is a technology alongside a personal helping hand. It’s about connecting with people who own and manage small businesses and helping them create the long-term change that will take their business to the next level.

Why are you excited about the future of tech in Queens? It’s important to ask the question: who’s actually “doing tech” in New York City? An awful lot of them are folks commuting from Queens to Manhattan. We also generate tons and tons of well-trained technologists.

We can, and will, get better at holding on to them by having companies like Onhand provide opportunities right here in Queens. Let’s start using the resources we have to give people who are coming to study here, or already live here, a good reason to work here too.

This virtuous cycle is good for Queens and will have lasting benefits from better qualities of life, such as shortened commutes along with more economic support for local businesses to increased property values and better attraction for newcomers in making Queens their home.

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