The restaurant industry was thrown for a loop two years ago when the pandemic kept people at home. Some weren’t prepared to accept online orders and others didn’t have a delivery network.
Startups, like Fudo, stepped up with technology to get restaurants back on their feet. In Fudo’s case, the Argentina-based company offers a web-based restaurant operating system and point-of-sale software that brings together a restaurant’s operations into a centralized “hub.” Now they can take orders, set up tables, manage deliveries, see purchases, control inventory and get detailed analytics on all of that in real time.
“Most people know about Square and Toast in the U.S., but Latin America is different,” Justo Ferraro, CEO of Fudo, told TechCrunch. “There is a great difference between corporate restaurants and independent restaurants, and in the U.S., around 30% are independent, while in Latin America, it is 80%.”
That independent restaurant customer, most likely adopting restaurant operation technology for the first time, is who 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 had the idea for Fudo back in 2014 after working as a developer at Restorando.com, an Open table-like company that was acquired by The Fork. While helping out one of his restaurant friends who had purchased some legacy software that wasn’t working out, Cuello started coding his own software.
He bootstrapped the company before getting angel investment. Then the pandemic hit, which caused Cuello to do “a reset,” Ferraro said. That’s when Ferraro, who previously led the growth of Mercado Pago Point in Latin America, came onboard, and was joined by the third co-founder and COO Rafael Teles, also a former executive at Mercado Pago, earlier this year.
Today, the company has a team of more than 70 employees in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. It also grew 10x to support 10,000 restaurants.
It was estimated that Latin America’s foodservice sales reached $270 billion in 2021, according to Statista. That has venture capitalists taking notice. For example, this year, companies like PreciTaste, Bear Robotics and Lunchbox all received investments for their approaches to streamline 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 institutional round of funding was co-led by Andreessen Horowitz, Atlántico 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 in Mexico, launch its Brazilian operation this month and develop more financial products, initially to take digital payments right at the table, to support small and medium-sized businesses within the sector.
“We have the unique opportunity in Latin America to become a one-stop shop because this is an area that is still very underserved,” Ferraro said. “We believe that we can be the market standard, and that’s why we went through this round. We want to actually capture that opportunity.”