Olo Inc.’s founder and CEO Noah Glass anticipates the digital ordering and delivery solutions platform’s independence to continue to be a strength after Wednesday's successful initial public offering.
New York-based Olo began trading Wednesday, raising $450 million in its IPO of 18 million shares at $25 each. At market close, Olo stock had jumped 39%, or $9.75, to close at $34.75 a share.
Olo serves 400 restaurant brands and 64,000 locations in the United States and Canada, with such concepts as Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Chili’s Grill & Bar Denny’s, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Jamba Juice, Noodles & Company, Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Wingstop.
“The fact that Olo is a public company means a lot for us going forward,” Glass said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “We have been for 15 years an independent platform for our restaurants, and we are going to be for the long term an independent platform for our restaurants to build their on-demand commerce channels on top of.”
The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions shifted restaurant sales to contactless, on-demand channels, he said. “It became a lifeline for them,” Glass said. “What’s clear at this point is that digital ordering is going to be a big part of the restaurant industry’s future.”
Olo, being a public company with established roots, can assure customers it will be a long-term partner and will not be impacted changes in the private-technology marketplace.
“We’ve had customers have to scramble onto Olo off of other platforms, and it is terrifying,” he said, citing Jimmy John’s which was on the OrderTalk Inc. platform, which shut down after being acquired by Uber Technologies Inc. in 2018.
Glass said the quick-service segment for several years has been embracing on-demand technology as a consumer convenience.
“What happened in COVID was most restaurants — those that didn’t have a drive-thru — needed some sort of off-premise lifeline and on-demand commerce became that for them,” Glass said, but many quick-service brands had existent drive-thrus that served as their lifeline.
“This past year slowed the adoption of on-demand commerce by QSR,” he explained, “but that is what will happen on the other side of this.”
Glass, above, said many restaurants did expand their number of Olo product modules during the pandemic, such as adding delivery capabilities through the Dispatch platform, third-party marketplace orders to the point-of-sale system through Rails platform, curbside pickup and QR, or quick response, code tableside ordering.
Another pandemic change was the expansion of virtual brands at existing restaurants or through commissary or ghost kitchens
“It has been a time of incredible innovation,” Glass said.
Innovation is on the horizon for Olo, he said, and that includes on-premise opportunities for digitization such as taking orders when reservations are made with food being fired when the customers arrive.
Such time-savings might increase table-turn times as well, Glass said, which is important for concepts with high weekend business — such as family and breakfast-lunch concepts — that can “make or break” the profit margins.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for Olo to expand its aperture,” Glass said, adding that the quick-service segment offers room for growth.
Glass, who founded Olo as GoMobo.com in 2005, said he planned to celebrate the iPO with his wife, 4-year-old son and the four grandparents, all vaccinated, with a dinner in New York.
Glass said he then will celebrate with the Olo team, which includes 12 original members and now numbers about 430.
“I do believe this moment is also a big milestone for our customers, our partners and our larger community,” he said.
Olo shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “OLO.”
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