TruRating pulls in $12.6M to grow its point-of-sale customer feedback platform

UK startup truRating, which is aiming to offer restaurants and retailers an alternative feedback platform to the likes of Tripadvisor and Yelp by offering bricks-and-mortar outlets the ability to obtain feedback from customers at the point of paying, via the same POS device, has closed a £9.5 million ($12.6M) Series A funding round.

The London based startup, which was founded at the end of 2013, had previously raised a £2.7M seed round in 2015, and £1.5M in angel funding in 2014 — bringing its total raised to date to £13.7M. The new round is led by Sandaire, an international investment office for families and foundations, and a private family investment group.

Its software as a service payment terminal-based feedback system provides its restaurant and retailer users with the ability to ask their customers different questions after they have paid (and thus verifiably used the service) — from soliciting direct service quality feedback to more general queries such as whether they shop in the outlet with their family or whether they would like music to be playing. Although the system only allows for one question per paying customers, to avoid payment terminals being diverted from their primary purpose for too long.

Customers who opt in to provide feedback are asked to offer a rated response on a sale of 0 to 9 (given those are the keys available on payment keypads). TruRating claims nine out of 10 people asked for feedback via its system go on to provide it. Its customers get this feedback in real-time, which it says allows them to assess service levels and make ongoing adjustments.

As well as offering offline retailers a feedback gathering mechanism, truRating’s wider play is a plan to make some of the ratings data it generates generally available to consumers online — with the aim of building up an alternative ratings platform, vs the likes of Yelp and Tripadvisor, but with the guarantee that the feedback has been generated by paying customers.

To power this future platform, its POS feedback system also includes some truRating questions, as well as custom questions created by retailers, so the startup can generate its own standardized ratings data-set to use online.

TruRating questions include: ‘Please rate the atmosphere/experience’, ‘Please rate the product/food’, ‘How likely are you to recommend’, ‘Please rate the service’, ‘Please rate the value for money’. It says it takes an average of answers to these questions to provide an overall TruRating rating.

TruRating is currently live in the UK (launching at the end of 2015) and Australia (at the start of 2016), but is eyeing expansion into the US and Canada to scale the business — slating a launch in North American for later this year “with its first payment partners, and a number of merchants”.

So far its system has generated a total of two million ratings, off of a customer base of around 200 users. Customers include smaller restaurant chains, such as Ping Pong and Franco Manca, and merchants such as Arco. It also claims to have pilots underway with “major brand names”.

TruRating co-founder Georgina Nelson says the new funding will be focused on building out its own ratings platform and on expanding its market footprint. “We’ll ramp up our global expansion, and start to build our services for consumers including a new consumer online recommendations website,” she says.

“We’re mainly active in the SME hospitality market in the UK, and Australia, plus some fashion retailers. Total live outlets is around 200, and growing. We’ve got pilots with household names underway,” she adds.