As digital solutions take centerstage at this late point in the pandemic, the most prominent news in the restaurant technology world has been more rounds of funding for restaurant industry tech giants, from virtual restaurant companies like C3 (which received funding from Brookfield and Reef Technology this month) to technology stalwarts like Zenput, which recently raised $27 million in Series C funding.
After a year of closed dining rooms and the industry relying almost entirely on digital sales, restaurants are learning that to survive, they need to invest in their technology stack. Tech vendors and third-party delivery companies have become among the most influential players in the industry and the number of tech-related solutions (with apps for managing hourly teams, digitizing the supply chain, consolidating all your orders) keeps growing and attracting even Hollywood celebrity investors.
For this special edition of Tech Tracker, we’ve rounded up all of the major rounds of tech funding over the past month.
San Francisco-based operations execution solutions company Zenput announced on July 20 a $27 million round of series C funding led by Golub Capital, bringing the company’s total funding to $47 million. The company’s platform is used by 60,000 restaurants, including major restaurant chains like Chipotle, Domino’s, PF Chang’s, and Five Guys.
This current round of funding will be used to continue working out solutions to automate operations procedures like tracking food safety compliance and knowing when an item has been left out for too long, according to Tech Crunch. This round of funding comes on the heels of Zenput’s 100% revenue growth over the past year.
Creating Culinary Communities (C3) food tech and virtual restaurant platform, led by Sam Nazarian, has announced another round of funding led by familiar names: shopping mall leader, Brookfield Global Asset Management and ghost kitchen giant, Reef Technologies.
The $80 million round of Series B funding’s major investors make sense for the company as C3 will be able to open their burgeoning empire of virtual restaurants in malls. Additionally, Reef technologies has committed to carrying C3 brands like Krispy Rice and Umami Burger in 500 of their ghost kitchen vessels, famously located in parking lots and parking garages.
This announcement was made on the heels of an initial investment from Accor Hotels and Simon Property Group.
“C3 is a leader in the food tech space because they don't fit into just one box and the key is that Sam and C3haven't forgotten their hospitality roots," Kevin McCrain, Managing Director, Real Estate at Brookfield Property Group Inc. said in a statement. "Ultimately, consumers need to be able to ‘touch’ a digital concept for it to last, and C3 has found a way to convert their extremely successful digital brands into lifestyle experiences.”
The funding will also be used to open virtual Citizens Food Hall locations across the U.S. in new markets, along with brick and mortar locations of their 40 brands.
The drive-thru renaissance is underway, and it’s being powered by AI technology. Voice ordering system ConverseNow— with two smart assistants, George and Becky — announced in July a $15 million Series A funding round led by Craft Ventures. The Austin-based, versatile AI company can handle orders via drive-thru, phone, text, chat and kiosks.
Since the company’s last funding round in 2020, they have expanded to 750 restaurants. With this round of funding, ConverseNow will be able to develop its line of technology and boost marketing and sales of its products.
According to ConverseNow, the use of their AI assistants can add up to 12 hours of extra deployable labor time weekly, freeing up employees to focus on more hospitality or kitchen-facing tasks.
SMB team management platform, Homebase, announced a celebrity-backed $71 million round of Series C funding, with notable investors including former Focus Brands president Kat Cole and actor Matthew McConaughey, along with athletes Jrue and Lauren Holiday. This latest round brings their total funding to $109 million, which will be used to launch more digital tools for HR and payroll.
“I started Homebase to make life easier for my family members and friends in local businesses, who weren’t being helped by technology,” John Waldmann, founder and CEO of Homebase said. “Everything from their hiring to their scheduling was stuck offline. Like millions of other restaurants, retailers, cleaners, bars, doggy daycares, and other incredible local businesses, they were forced to choose between paper, or solutions that weren’t designed for them.
The two latest products Homebase has added to its rolodex for small businesses are payroll processing and payroll advances, automating tasks that were previously manually counted, like employee hours and overtime.
“Hard working people who work in and run restaurants and local businesses are important to all of us”, Matthew McConaughey said in a statement. “They play an important role in giving our cities a sense of livelihood, identity, and community.
Hospitality tech startup Bbot announced on July 22 that they raised $15 million in Series A funding, led by CRV, bringing their total to $22.3 million after a year of 700% YoY revenue growth. With the funding, Bbot will continue to build up their ecommerce platform.
Since the pandemic began, no-app platform app Bbot has offered tools to help mainly casual dining restaurants weather the storm of uncertain changes and attract employees during the post-pandemic worker shortage.
"Restaurateurs are always looking for new ways to provide excellent hospitality experiences," Steve Simoni, CEO and co-founder of Bbot said in a statement. "The way guests want to order and pay has changed forever, and the need for innovative technology that can help business owners compete in today's digital world affordably and easily is crucial.”
Notch claims to be the first tech company of its kind to digitize the supply chain for restaurants. With their latest round of $10 million funding led by Accomplice and BDC, they’ll be able to expand their wholesale solutions for restaurants.
“The restaurant industry has largely focused on front of house technology when in fact cost savings start with eliminating waste within the wholesale food supply ordering process,” Jordan Huck, CEO of Notch said in a statement.
Notch’s tools include automated payment solution Notch Pay, Notch Marketplace to compare and contrast prices and reviews from distributors and Notch Connect, to digitize order placement.
Currently, the company is in Chicago, Texas, and Toronto with plans to expand to more cities soon.
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