Many consumers have become accustomed to checking restaurant reviews online, ordering meals in advance via mobile, having multiple payment options, and receiving favourite dishes delivered right to the doorstep. The growth in smartphones, changing consumer preferences, market competition, and needs to differentiate and/or disrupt have led to massive growth for restaurant tech, despite a soft outlook for the overall restaurant industry. This disruption, innovation and growth in the restaurant technology sector have not gone unnoticed by investors and venture capitalists (VCs). Since 2014, there has been over $11.2 billion invested across 944 deals in the space, and a handful of unicorns are now in view. Investment and interest are not just limited to the U.S., as there are several high-quality, private restaurant technology firms based in Canada. This week’s blog looks at what we call the ‘technology food chain’, which touches areas from delivery to the back-end business management for restaurants. We see opportunity across the entire sector, but of particular interest to us are those companies with exposure to more than one piece of the ‘chain’ to streamline and enhance customer experience or improve business operations. This week we feature two private, Toronto-based companies that have direct exposure to two different parts of this restaurant 'technology food chain’. We recently interviewed the founders of “Inside the Restaurant”, high-growth restaurant cloud-POS company TouchBistro and “Outside the Restaurant” order-ahead app Ritual. Both companies have earned considerable attention this year, as Ritual and TouchBistro had the third and fourth largest raises in Q2 of USD$70MM and USD$54MM, respectively. The interest in the space is clear. This has continued as we heard Ritual, UberEats and Chefs Plate present to a packed room at the Elevate Conference in Toronto. These companies are helping to improve the eating experience, executing well and are interesting places to work. We discuss how and why that is happening.Read More >
Entrepreneurs start with an idea and a belief that their vision can have a massive impact. It doesn’t always work out that way. But when it does, the effect can be world-changing: A breakthrough startup can scramble industries, alter how we work and live, and shift talent flows around the world. It’s no wonder that we tend to follow the fortunes of these founders and those who choose to work for them so carefully. With the LinkedIn Top Startups list, we wanted to provide professionals with a look at the young companies reaching that escape velocity. As always, we started with the data — the billions of actions generated by LinkedIn’s 575 million members — and looked at four pillars in particular: employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from our flagship LinkedIn Top Companies list. In other words, which startups are commanding the attention and working hours of top talent? To be eligible for Top Startups, companies must be 7 years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held and headquartered in Canada. (Check out which startups made the list in the U.S. and stay tuned — we’ll be unveiling lists for more countries in the coming weeks. You can learn more about our methodology at the bottom of this article). Will these companies continue with their explosive growth and world-changing work? That’s in the hands of the talent flocking to these startups. Maybe you’ll want to put your own hat into the ring. Check out who made the cut and join the conversation using #LinkedInTopStartups.Read More >
“They were trying to give us more. A lot more.”That from Alex Barrotti, TouchBistro’s CEO, as he explains what his recent fundraising experience was like. “While we were closing our $72M CDN round there were funds trying to get us to take more capital. Sure, it’s ego-boosting to be offered the money, but sometimes more is not really more.” Alex’s recent fundraise draws a stark comparison to other tech startups who raise as much money as possible, regardless of the terms. “Our latest round was squeaky clean. There are no clawbacks or ratchets or liquidation preferences. I feel that we properly aligned TouchBistro’s incentives with those of ours investors while protecting our employees. Sometimes these large rounds can be really dilutive or come with covenants that make it hard for employees to ever be above water. That was not a position we wanted to be in.” In fact it was quite the opposite. As part of this latest round Alex found a way to bring some liquidity to existing employees. “There was a component of secondary capital for our employees. The Valley has a great culture for employee liquidity but Toronto doesn’t have as much of a secondary market. We wanted to give employees with fully vested options a chance to cash some out. Ultimately we feel this helps employee morale: these ephemeral pieces of paper are actually worth money!” Alex took money at a valuation to optimize TouchBistro’s upside, not the valuation. “There’s no point trying to maximize your valuation if coming up short means everyone takes a bath. Now, I can sleep easy at night.” Read More >
TORONTO — TouchBistro and 7shifts announced today that restaurateurs are reporting a reduction in labor costs of up to four percent by utilizing the tools provided in the integration of TouchBistro and 7shifts award-winning restaurant apps. The tools help restaurateurs schedule shift assignments that achieve the optimum labor to cost ratio when plotted against predicted sales, thus improving overall profitability.TouchBistro is an iPad POS solution designed specifically for the unique workflows of a restaurant. It includes a full suite of cloud reporting tools that provide restaurateurs with all the information needed to make decisions to profitably manage the business, from sales analysis and upselling tools, to inventory and payroll. 7shifts is an intuitive employee scheduling app for restaurants that helps managers lower labor costs and overtime expenses, while reducing the time it takes to create staff schedules from hours each week (when done manually) to just a few minutes. “The aggregate reports in TouchBistro enable me to predict sales, anticipate sales of specific items, and determine production schedules. Employees clock in and out in TouchBistro on the schedule that I can rapidly generate in 7shifts and change with just a few keystrokes. From wherever I am, I can instantly notify everyone of any schedule changes,” says Thomas Gilbert, general manager of General Assembly Pizza. “With the TouchBistro and 7shifts integration, I have a single interface where I can see sales and labor all merged together, making it so much easier to manage all the moving parts of the restaurant.” Read More >
Both businesses recovered—Roscoe’s with the help of The Next Idea, a restaurant consultant group that took charge of four of the failing restaurants, and Fetch Bistro, with the input of Gordon Ramsey, who featured the struggling restaurant on an episode of 24 Hours to Hell and Back. Here are some of the changes each establishment made—and why these transformations made a difference.
Institute standard operating procedures. “At Roscoe’s, there were multiple ways of doing things and they were convoluted,” explains Robert Ancill, the CEO of The Next Idea. For example, the cooking was inconsistent from location to location—and even in the same restaurant, depending on which cook was in the kitchen that day. The way servers were allocated to tables also depended on the location. “There was no set way of doing things,” Ancill notes. That changed when Ancill put in a point-of-sale system (POS) for the four establishments his group was tasked with turning around. With a structure in place, the restaurants could implement table plans and best practices in the kitchen. A management-training program that focused on customer service as well as how to motivate employees and manage morale also helped.
Fetch Bistro had similar problems with consistency. The cooks lacked recipes for the 55 items on the menu, resulting in an uneven presentation. And because there were no rules for how the dogs behaved meant there were four-legged customers clambering onto the booths, eating from tables, or playing with one another as their owners tried to eat. New customers were often confused by Fetch Bistro’s concept: “They’d ask ‘Do you have to have a dog to eat here?’” says Greg.
The answer was no, but with dogs running amok, how could customers tell? The eatery now has posted rules, which include leashing up pets. Those, along with a dog run out on the patio and canine-only dishware, have helped curb bad-doggie behavior. The Busses also cut back the offerings to about 20 items, each with a set recipe.
Leave old-school behind. At Fetch Bistro, servers used pen and paper to take down orders and then run them to the kitchen. When a cook couldn’t read the server’s handwriting or a ticket got misplaced, customers got their food in haphazard order and got annoyed. Servers also had to wait in the kitchen for the dishes, which meant they weren’t out on the floor attending to customers. Now servers use tablets to take orders, which are sent directly to the kitchen and can be more attentive to their customers’ needs.
Know your numbers. “A POS represents the heartbeat of the business in many ways,” Ancill explains. “If you don’t have a POS, then you’re always at risk of not understanding your business and not knowing your numbers.” Once he instituted TouchBistro at Roscoe’s, his group could get actual data and act on it.
The Busses also put in TouchBistro’s POS. “For the first time, I could manage our expenses in real time and try to make sure every penny that came in did not go to waste,” Greg notes. The POS also helped him track what went on the restaurant on an hourly basis so he could distinguish busy times from slower ones, without relying on his memory.
Organize your data. It doesn’t matter which POS you use—you want a system that’s affordable, easy to use, and gives you the right information quickly. “When people don’t know their numbers, they don’t know if they’re doing well or not. They either don’t have a proper log or their books aren’t done every month, or if they are, they’re not looking at them and they’re not identifying where they’re losing money,” Ancill notes. If your data is organized you can understand what your problem is. “Like anything, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t actually know what it is,” he adds.Read More >
The intersection of technology and culinary education. An interview with culinary educators at George Brown College on the role of technology in culinary. George Brown College uses the TouchBistro POS both at their teaching restaurant, the Chef's House and in their simulation labs. It is one of Canada's most respected culinary schools. There have also been many advancements on the service side of things. At George Brown College, professor Doris Miculan Bradley teaches a course called Dining Room Service where students use TouchBistro, an iPad point-of-sale (POS) to simulate the ebb and flow of a dinner service – from ringing in an order to receiving and preparing a chit – to give them a grasp of timing. At The Chef’s House and in the simulation lab, chef Li and professor Miculan Bradley use the reporting features to track sales, popularity of menu items and ingredients so they can make informed decisions when it comes to engineering their menu – a way to see what items are underperforming and overperforming in order to make the necessary changes in real-time.Read More >
Ramsay installed a point-of-sale system by TouchBistro (the Busses had previously been using pen and paper to track their sales) and he pared the menu way down, adding several new dishes with a Ramsay touch. The crew also turned a bocce ball court next to the restaurant into a state-of–the-art dog park with turf. They also put in a photo booth where people and their pets could pose for snapshots together.The changes Ramsay made have helped them already, Greg said, especially the point-of-sale system and the menu refinement. Read More >
Today’s restaurant POS systems data can be as good as video surveillance for preventing employee theft or tracking inventory loss. “I use TouchBistro (POS system) to help streamline our front-and back-of-house operations,” says Charles Dampf, managing partner of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Fourth Earl Hospitality. “To improve employee management, I use the time clock and track daily labor percentage, as well as the discount and void report, and the weekly sales target report. If there is a large void I am not familiar with in the report, I’ll research it to make sure it’s valid and there is no theft occurring.”Read More >
TouchBistro raised $54 million in Series D financing. The new funds will be used to support development of the next generation TouchBistro restaurant operating system, development of new payment solutions, expansion into new and existing markets, and to double the size of the team over the next year. This latest round brings TouchBistro’s total funding to date to $88 million. TouchBistro is an award-winning iPad POS built from the ground up to work as the heart of a restaurant’s operations. It streamlines and simplifies all aspects of running a restaurant – from order taking, payment processing, menu management, accounting, reporting, inventory management, and staff scheduling, to customer loyalty. More than 12,000 restaurants in over 100 countries use the POS today and the company has grown its recurring monthly revenue by 58 percent over the last year. TouchBistro POS solutions process more than $6 billion annually.Read More >
Toronto-based TouchBistro, which develops an iPad-based PoS app for restaurants, has announced a $72 million Series D. The round was led by OMERS Ventures and JPMorgan Chase, with participation from Napier Park Financial Partners, Recruit Holdings, BDC IT Venture Fund, and Relay Ventures. TouchBistro’s iPad POS platform allows restaurants to enter tableside orders and send them directly to the kitchen, while also providing information on upsell opportunities. Integrated EMV payments can also be taken at the table, which includes bill-splitting features. TouchBistro said it plans to use the funding to develop the next generation of its platform. The funding will also be used to develop new payment solutions, expand into new and existing markets, and double the size of the team over the next year.Read More >