Kea is a new startup returning eateries an opportunity to upgrade one of the more old-fashioned spaces that they take orders — over the phone.
Today, Kea is announcing that it has raised a $10 million Series A led by Marbruck, with participation from Streamlined Ventures, Xfund, Heartland Ventures, DEEPCORE, Barrel Ventures and AVG Funds, as well as angel investors Raj Kapoor( honcho policy polouse at Lyft ), Craig Flom( who was on the founding team at Panera Bread ), Wingstop franchisee Tony Lam and Five Guys franchisee Jonathan Kelly.
Founder and CEO Adam Ahmad said that with restaurants perpetually understaffed, they usually don’t have someone who can devote their attention to answering the phone.( Many of you, after all, are probably pretty familiar with the experience of announcing a diner and being immediately put on hold .)
At the same time, he suggested it remains an important ordering channel — especially during the pandemic, as takeout and give has become the biggest source of revenue for numerous eateries. The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner put it succinctly when she suggested that anyone who wants to support restaurants should” pick up the damn telephone .”
Similarly, Ahmad said that for restaurants, paying substantial third-party rewards on all of their line-ups is” not a sustainable long-term policy .” So Kea is offering technology that should help restaurants treat more lineups over the telephone, organizing what Ahmad called a” virtual cashier” who can do the initial uptake with purchasers, process most routine dictates and brought under a human employee when needed.
The idea of an automated tone deputy may bring back unpleasant remembers of trying to call your bank or another Byzantine customer service department. But Ahmad said that while most existing telephone system are” not smart ,” Kea’s AI is very different, because it’s just concentrates on diner ordering.
” We’re doing a very closed domain ,” he said.” In the pizza world-wide, there are only a duet thousand permutations. We’re not innovating for the whole dictionary — it’s a constrained framework, it’s a menu .”
In fact, the Kea team gave me a number to dial where I could try out information systems for myself. It was a pretty straightforward and easy process, where I added my address and then the details of my pizza dictate. And again, you can transfer to a human employee at any time.( In fact, I was accidentally displaced during my demo, conducting me to quickly hang up in unease .)
Kea is already live in more than 250 eateries, including Papa John’s, Donatos and Primanti Brothers, and it says it’s saving them an average rate of 10 hours of strive per week, with a 23% increase in average order size. With the new funding, Ahmad’s goal is to bring Kea to 1,000 eateries across 37 states in 2021.
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