Olo, 7shifts, and Chowbus were among the companies that started out the year on a financial high note.
— Erika Adams
While hundreds of millions of dollars weren’t dropped on any one restaurant-focused company this month, there were some big wins for the little guys, from Chowbus’ $4 million round to set up shop in new U.S. markets to Inhouse’s $2 million round to fund international expansion.
This will be a big year for tech vendors in the restaurant space, as investors continue to place their bets on which players will outlast the others in the race to be the best version of whatever problem that each company is trying to solve for the industry.
Note: This is the third installment of Skift Table’s monthly tech-funding roundup. To view December’s list, click here.
Amount Raised: $18 million
Lead Investors: Tiger Global Management
Skift Table Take: This is the first round of funding that Olo has taken on since 2016. In that timeframe, its customer base has ballooned: Olo powers tech stacks for over 50,000 restaurant chain units. It hasn’t entered the single-unit, independent space yet, although founder and CEO Noah Glass told Techcrunch that he hopes to enter that market someday. “We’re big believers in this company as an independent company, and we’re building it until we’re ready to have some kind of [exit] event,” Glass said in the Techcrunch interview. “We think that’s in the cards if we keep doing what we’re doing.”
Amount Raised: $550,000
Lead Investors: East Ventures
Skift Table Take: Singapore-based Eatsy provides a platform for diners to order ahead, pay, and pick up orders at their local restaurants and coffee shops. The new round of funding is aimed at better enabling the company to get ahead of its competitors in this space and fully own the order and pay-ahead restaurant experience in Singapore. Plenty of tech companies are on the verge of large expansions on this front; Eatsy has its work carved out for itself here.
Amount Raised: $10 million
Lead Investors: Napier Park Financial Partners
Skift Table Take: 7shifts CEO Jordan Boesch knows that it’s not enough to simply run a glitch-free shift scheduling platform. With the new round of funding, Boesch wants to lead the company into deeper integrations with not just point-of-sale tech, but also payroll providers. He also wants to invest further in machine learning to better understand and recreate the emotional and intuitive components to scheduling. There’s an endless number of checks and balances that restaurant managers weigh out when they are putting together the weekly schedule (Do those two staff members work well together? Do they distract each other?) and Boesch wants to push 7shifts technology to the point of being able to ask and answer those same questions.
Amount Raised: $4 million
Lead Investors: Greycroft Partners and FJ Labs
Skift Table Take: Chowbus is trying to ease the pains of delivery on independent operators by catering specifically to mom-and-pop owners and operators. From a consumer-facing perspective, the app acts as a guide to local, independent food discovery in various neighborhoods. For the restaurant operators, Chowbus not only offers delivery services at a lower price point, but also provides marketing and other back-end tech support. The app is currently live in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Champaign, Ill., and Lansing, Mich., and the company has plans to launch in up to 20 new markets this year.
Amount Raised: $2 million
Lead Investors: Undisclosed
Skift Table Take: What if restaurant loyalty plays weren’t always driven by financial discounts and rewards? That’s the question that Inhouse is looking to solve. Like delivery and online ordering, restaurant loyalty programs — if integrated correctly — can deeply affect the way that restaurants interact with their diners. With this influx of funding, Inhouse founder Benjy Leibowitz will be internationally expanding the diner membership club that he launched in New York City. The membership isn’t about rewarding diners with money off their tenth meal, but rather equipping independent operators with the power and data to learn more about, and better cater to, the diners who already love their restaurants.