Nearly 100 members of the food tech community joined us last Thursday for our NYC Food+Tech Meetup: How New Tech is Transforming Restaurants. We heard from 6 startups who are working to revolutionize the restaurants industry, from mobile payments to improving employee performance.
A brief wrap up of the event is below. We will also be publishing videos of each startup’s presentation in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
We’d like to thank our sponsors Lenz Winery and Bibber & Bell for providing all of the delicious, New York State wines, and Innovative Food Holdings Inc. (IVFH) & Food Hatch for all of the great food.
Learn more about our Meetups and get notified about future events here.
NoWait, the app that offers a solution to pesky restaurant wait times, announced that it had launched nation-wide last Thursday. The app – which let’s users view restaurant wait times, add their names to waiting lists and get texts from restaurants when their tables are ready – has primarily grown organically until now, CEO Ware Sykes told the Meetup group. The startup leverages restaurants as its distribution mechanism and is now seating 3 million diners per month, up from 700,000 last year. NoWait is also in the process of experimenting with cross promotions and offers, says Sykes. The startup has raised $4.04 million to date.
Objective Logistics uses behavior change psychology and gamification to bolster employee performance and improve operator efficiency. The startup provides an artificial-intelligent, web-accessible labor performance management platform (MUSE). The technology integrates with major POS systems, like Micros, Aloha and PosiTouch, and analyzes historical data to generate holistic employee performance rankings. It is currently the only player that can give this caliber of rankings, says VP of Sales Eric Poley. The startup has raised $7.6 million to date.
Easy Pairings leverages data to connect restaurant operators with ideal front-of-house job seekers. In an industry that has a 55 percent turn-over rate, the platform aims to lower recruitment costs and help restaurants find the right staff quickly and easily. The platform allows job seekers to upload their resumes; It then analyzes that data, connects operators with the best candidates, and schedules interviews. Word of mouth has helped the startup grow, and usage rates have been higher than they expected, co-founder and CEO Darren Wan told the group. The startup raised $40 thousand in seed funding in February, 2013.
Cover streamlines the customer payment process and saves restaurants money. The credit card processing startup offers an app that lets customers dine and dash, legitimately, by keeping their credit card information and tip preference on file and automatically charging them at the end of their meal. It also saves restaurants money by mitigating ever-increasing credit card fees. Searching for a customer experience that was “emotionally spot on,” the startup spent 13 months testing and developing its product, says co-founder Mark Egerman. So far, the user demographics have surprised them; rather than tech-savvy college students, the app’s main demographic has been mid 20s-30s. The startup launched out of beta in NYC last October, and since then it has raised $1.5 million in funding and brought on nearly 50 restaurants.
Swipely leverages data from payment networks, POS systems and the social web to help local merchants better understand customers and grow sales. The majority – 70 percent – of the startup’s merchants are restaurants. “They are our sweet spot,” said VP of Sales Matt Oley. The service provides valuable marketing data, such as whether new customers have, in fact, become repeat customers. It also provides actionable insights on menu item profitability and lets operators rank servers by sales, customer retention or table turn. The startup has raised $20.5 million to date.
Culinary Agents hopes to become the LinkedIn for the hospitality industry. The platform, which currently has 12,000 users and over 1,000 restaurant clients, offers job matching and networking for culinary professionals. The startup aims to improve employee retention, while bringing the hospitality job search away from antiquated methods like Craig’s List, and into the 21st century. The platform has also become an extended recruiter, founder Alice Cheng told the group. The startup recently raised $500k in seed funding.