Food is the greatest unifier...
...and yet the industry is so disjointed. The pandemic forced a lot of pivoting across the whole spectrum of dining out and ordering in.
Decades-old restaurants shut down to become takeaways. Takeaways went full remote. Many bought ordering software or signed up with Deliveroo or Uber Eats. Then they reopened and had to build internal menu apps and QR ordering systems.
Then the rules changed again, and they ended up with multiple offerings, and multiple tech products to manage them.
The disconnect between these systems makes operations inefficient, and data-driven insights and targeted marketing practically impossible.
Restaurateurs are an ancient and practical breed. Highly skilled in the hands-on, they lack the time and techie knowledge to integrate SaaS in the way that’s become second nature to most other industries.
Restoplus founders Ezhil and Nish noted the success of Tesla due to the vertical integration of software into its hardware. They looked at Apple’s success, defined by its vertically integrated product suite, and Hubspot's all-in-one solution for SMEs.
They set out to achieve success in the same way: through an all-in-one, vertically integrated front of house managing platform for restaurants.
Meet the founders
Co-founder and CEO Ezhil Mohan spent 10 years in commercial banking, a career that leaves many executives dreaming of running a quaint little coffee shop. But Ezhil left the restauranteering to the pros, and made restaurant SaaS his side gig until quitting to run Restoplus full time.
Co-founder and CTO Nish Sowdri is an award-winning software architect with over 15 years experience designing, developing, and leading software teams at various startups and scale ups. It was Nish’s remit to build a great culture from the ground up, keeping an eye on sustainability and gender diversity from day one.
Ezhil says of their differentiation from the world of Deliveroo and dining software:
“Our IT capability has proven to be our competitive advantage. Whilst our competitors solve one problem each, we are taking a holistic approach, and the benefits are significant.”
The value proposition
Thanks to the advancements in SaaS, data is the new cheat sheet for any business imaginable.
Restoplus gathers data and helps restaurateurs identify trends, telling them who orders what most, and when. This way they can take advantage of peaking sales, manage stock, and avoid waste.
Many restaurant managers are adept in sales, using tantalising menu descriptors and front of house staff to upsell high value dishes, sides, desserts, and plenty of drinks. This is not much harder to do online. Tactically placed CTAs and check out screen offers can accomplish a similar result (“Feeling the cold? Add a hot sticky toffee pudding”).
It's just that it's not thought about by the average takeaway site UI.
Likewise, many restaurants get their brand, interior decor, and the all-important “vibe” bang on. But there’s often a disconnect between the shopfront and the site. Restoplus empowers restaurant owners to own their brand, making their aesthetic cohesive across both the digital and the physical.
Then there’s the desperate staff shortages the industry is still facing two and a half years after the pandemic began.
Love it or hate it, mobile ordering reduces reliance on staff and incidences of restaurants having to close in their absence, even if it's just a placeholder in busy times. Now online ordering is so widely adopted, Restoplus also frees up staff from manning phones.
Expanding the menu
Restoplus’ time with Skalata enabled them to develop their full freemium offering.
Core products spanned a branded website, mobile app, online ordering portals, Google, Facebook and Uber ordering, and a POS sales system. Extras included advanced reporting, SMS and email marketing, even staff rostering and inventory management.
No special hardware was required, and no need to buy the full stack. Restoplus’ freemium model offered the website and app for free, facilitating an effective “land and expand'' strategy in which the sales team could upsell the wider product suite.
They had 4 team members, 140 clients, and a churn rate of less than 0.25%.
Things were looking great, but the founders wanted to grow.
Restoplus had found product-market fit and started to make serious dents in the competition. Now was the time for the founders to step away from sales and deploy some serious strategy to go after more market share in Australia, and new markets internationally.
One of the first actions undertaken by Skalata was helping them expand their product development and sales capabilities by expanding the team (from 4 to 12, including 4 full stack developers).
The expanded team adopted a structured sales process (clear workflows, benchmarking activity targets, closing targets), and a comprehensive sales training process (onboarding, marketing/sales collateral, and refining techniques).
Pricing experiments were conducted and customer feedback used to develop and optimise a robust pricing strategy, to secure a more sustainable business model.
Sometimes, the greatest added value comes from expanding a founding team’s vision of what’s realistic or possible. We encouraged Restoplus to set more competitive sales targets, the end result being boosting revenue by circa 30% organically.
The future of food
There is currently no other SaaS in the market with an offering as comprehensive as Restoplus.
Australian startup darling Mr Yum was a runaway success (largely due to COVID and its aftermath), but Restoplus provides a much more comprehensive solution compared to Mr Yum’s limitation to online and table ordering.
By November 2021, Restoplus were a team of 20, with Ezhil and Nish completely growth-focused.
In late 2022, Restoplus raised $1.1m to increase employee headcount in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane and support sales, marketing, and product management efforts.
The team has since partnered with Uber Direct, successfully piloting the delivery model in several stores. Uber Direct allows restaurants to use the Uber driver network to complete deliveries for the restaurant, while only paying the delivery fee (typically paid by the customer) rather than the Uber commission fee.
Despite Skalata cofounder Rohan referring to the founders as cockroaches on their first day (by which he meant resilient and determined to make a mark!), Ezhil says:
“I’d like to personally thank Rohan, Maxine, Tony and all others in the Skalata Ventures team for believing in us, supporting us, and helping us set up a growth engine at Restoplus.”