The restaurant industry was turned upside down two years ago when the pandemic kept people at home. Some were not ready to accept online orders and others had no delivery network.
Startups, like Fudo, have stepped up technology to get restaurants back on their feet. In the case of Fudo, the Argentina-based company offers a web-based restaurant operating system and point-of-sale software that brings together restaurant operations in a centralized “hub”. Now they can take orders, set up tables, manage deliveries, view purchases, control inventory, and get detailed analytics on it all in real time.
“Most people know Square and Toast in the US, but Latin America is different,” Fudo CEO Justo Ferraro told TechCrunch. “There’s a big difference between company restaurants and independent restaurants, and in the United States about 30% are independent, while in Latin America it’s 80%.”
This independent restaurant customer, who is most likely adopting restaurant operation technology for the first time, is the one Fudo is targeting. As such, the company is also making it more accessible, charging between $25 and $50 per month.
Co-founder and CTO Juan Manuel Cuello came up with the idea for Fudo in 2014 after working as a developer at Restorando.com, an open-table type company that was acquired by The Fork. While helping out a restaurant friend of his who had purchased old software that didn’t work, Cuello began coding his own software.
He started the business before getting an angel investment. Then the pandemic hit, prompting Cuello to do “a reset,” Ferraro said. It was then that Ferraro, who previously led Mercado Pago Point’s growth in Latin America, joined the team and was joined by COO Rafael Teles, also a former Mercado Pago executive, earlier this year.
Today, the company has a team of over 70 employees in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. It was also multiplied by 10 to support 10,000 restaurants.
Foodservice sales in Latin America are estimated to have reached $270 billion in 2021, according to Statista. This took note of venture capitalists. For example, this year, companies like PreciTaste, Bear Robotics, and Lunchbox all received investment for their approaches to streamlining restaurant operations.
Fudo is now among them, having raised $7.5 million in seed funding and attracting some big names in the process. The company’s first round of institutional funding was co-led by Andreessen Horowitz, Atlantico and MAYA Capital. They were joined by Collaborative Fund, Goodwater and Latitud and a group of angel investors.
With this new injection of capital, the startup plans to accelerate its expansion into Mexico, launch its Brazilian operation this month and develop more financial products, initially to take digital payments directly to the table, to support small and medium-sized businesses in the sector. .
“We have the unique opportunity in Latin America to become a one-stop-shop because it’s still a very underserved region,” Ferraro said. “We believe we can be the market standard, and that’s why we got through this round. We really want to seize this opportunity.