Before the pandemic, the paper restaurant menu had not changed much since the invention of lamination. But over the last year or two, Americans have gotten used to menu-free restaurant experiences, where guests scan a tableside QR code to get a list of food and drink options.
But what if the QR code is just the beginning? That’s a question posed by Kim Teo, the cofounder and CEO of Mr Yum, an emerging restaurant technology company that began in Melbourne, Australia, with the idea of digitizing the restaurant menu to be more visual and interactive. Now Mr Yum’s restaurant partners can add multiple language and dietary options, tableside digital ordering capabilities and contactless payment through the online server, with no need to wait for a physical bill or change.
“I think how we differentiate ourselves to the mountain of restaurant tech products and solutions that are coming out is … we think of ourselves as a guest experience product, not a back of house product,” Teo said. “Our product is trying to improve the interface between your guests and your staff. … We see ourselves as an enabler of great experiences, and we’re not there to take away from hospitality.”
Teo was born in Singapore and spent most of her life in Melbourne, where she has had multiple startup businesses. Teo started Mr Yum in 2018 with her three cofounders, after they tried to figure out a way to make restaurant menus more visually appealing without guests having to resort to looking up dishes on Instagram.
Over the past 18 months, Mr Yum has raised $73 million in two separate funding rounds and soft-launched in its first U.S. market, Los Angeles, with more planned for launch in 2022.
“What does a VIP experience of a loyal customer look like at a restaurant in three years’ time?” Teo asked. “We all love the experience of going to restaurants and them knowing who you are. … What I'm most excited about is combining the software piece with the human element.”
How does Mr Yum solve for this? One example is that after a customer visits a Mr Yum restaurant for the first time, the database will remember who they are — what they ordered, payment history, dietary preferences, etc. The next time that guest visits and opens up the digital menu, they’ll see personalized options that can better tailor the experience around their wants and needs.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can connect the physical environment with the online world,” Teo said, adding that her team is trying to master integration and has partnerships with 40-plus tech tools and solutions companies. “Maybe when a frequent guest comes, the restaurant will greet you with your favorite glass of wine upon arrival, or they at least know how to say, ‘Thanks for coming back!’”
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