Venga, a DC-based startup, has raised $1 million in Series A financing to help restaurants create profiles of their customers by whipping reservation data, point-of-sale, and other basic information into a soufflé of delicious CRM.
Militello Capital led the round and a number of major restaurant groups and angels also invested. Think Food Group, Bill and Pat Anton, and Cornell’s Big Red Ventures were also on the menu.
Founded by Sam von Pollaro and Winston Bao Lord, the company incubated in the The Fort in DC. The company bills itself as the only “complete guest management platform for restaurants” and essentially takes reservations data and point of sale information to create a customer profile. This allows restaurants to offer dedicated, personalized service as a matter of course, ensuring that VIPs get extra breadsticks and chilled tap water.
“Venga is completely seamless for the restaurants that use it and the guests that benefit from it. The guest does not have to opt into a program or give an email address, credit card or a phone number, which eliminates the hassle and annoyance associated with many guest management systems,” said Lord. “Similarly, the restaurant’s staff does not have to change the way they work as the system was created to link with the point-of-sale and OpenTable systems the restaurant already uses.”
The system also maintains the customer’s purchase history and, if the guest provides an email, it can segment customers into special mailing lists. For example, restaurants can offer wine tastings to the lushes and chocolate parties to the chocoholics. It also allows waiters to know a bit more about their customers before they sit down.
“We allow our clients to track not only who came back to the restaurant but also how much they spent as a result of the campaign,” said Lord.
At its core, the company basically connects two pieces of information – the reservation with preferences. By doing this they can achieve what most restaurant hosts only acquire with years of experience and identify customers by name and supply them with perks that only long time customers can get. After all, the hotel industry has done this for years. Venga is simply trying to help restaurants catch up.