When Chris Comparato joined his former colleagues at Toast, a service that includes a point-of-sale tool for restaurants, raising new financing to continue scaling the company was near the top of the list.
So today, the company said it has raised $30 million in a round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with Google Ventures participating. Comparato says the company has more than 1,000 customers, growing from “hundreds” to “thousands” in the past year or so.
“In general, our vision is to really enable a world where restaurants of all different sizes deliver the best customer experience by leveraging [an online service that includes point-of-sale],” he said. “That means providing a better experience for waiter and waitress who want to create orders much more nimbly, or a better guest experience for customer and patron, and we feel tech can be an enabler.”
The service operates on Android tablets, but of course that means it’s going to compete with other point-of-sales services. That could include other providers like Square and Shopkeep. But the pitch for Toast is that it’ll provide more than just point-of-sale, making it easier for restaurant owners to choose other additional services. Still, if Square is any indicator — with its challenging initial public offering — having a point of sale service as a key hook can indicate a challenging business overall.
Of course, raising financing wasn’t the only thing on Comparato’s mind. Numbers one and two on his list, he said, were expansion of sales and marketing across the U.S. and expanding the company’s research and development efforts. Both of those are capital-intensive because they require increasing headcount at the company — which already has more than 170 employees, he said.
“You can be a small indie restaurant that’s full service, you need a new point of sale solution. And perhaps it starts with point of sale but as you start to weigh your options, you’re choosing a platform that includes point of sale as well as open flexibility for other integrations,” Comparato said. “That small operator is getting hammered with tech choices, they have to pick a point-of-sale solution, probably have to look at loyalty programs, online ordering platforms, look at analytics capabilities.”
Another goal for 2016, he said, was to add a suite of tools that allow Toast to integrate with other services. For example, Toast may offer a delivery tool, but restaurant owners may want to go with other services instead. Instead of forcing restaurants to rely on Toast’s in-house services, they will hopefully be able to integrate with other services, he said.