Our behavior at restaurants and venues has changed massively in the last two years because of the pandemic, but many of us have realized the huge advantages of being able to order via phones from the table, or even pay, instead of the usual “credit card dance”. French startup Sunday, which didn’t even exist in 2020, has raised large sums to allow people to easily pay and share the bill, freeing up wait staff and increasing turnover in restaurants.
Other startups have jumped on these kinds of trends, among them Toast and GoodEats.
Now Qlub is emerging from a period of stealth to tackle a similar area, but aiming at markets outside the USA. The payment solution for consumers in restaurants has now raised $17 million in seed financing in a round co-led by Berlin’s Cherry Ventures and Point Nine Capital of Germany. Also participating were other VCs, including STV, Raed Ventures, Heartcore, Shorooq Partners and FinTech Collective, as well as numerous entrepreneurs-turned-angels.
Similar to the Sunday startup, Qlub enables customers to pay their bills in restaurants quickly by scanning a QR code with their phone. No app or registration is required. Customers can split the bill with their friends and pay the bill with Apple Pay, credit card or in installments in a similar manner to BNPL.
The benefits for restaurants include a higher potential turnover of tables, more possibility of tips for wait staff and returning customers who enjoy the simple experience. Qlub also says that the ease of use tends to lead to restaurants getting higher ratings on review sites. Obviously, there is also less contact with wait staff, which is useful in the pandemic, and for general public health.
Co-founder Eyad Alkassar — currently a co-founder and managing director for Rocket Internet Middle East but who is in the midst of phasing out his involvement — said: “Having built multiple food delivery startups, I was baffled by how little the dine-in experience has improved by technology within the last two decades. Since the advent of credit cards, little to nothing has changed. By combining two mega-trends driven by the pandemic — QRs in restaurants and cashless payments — we are creating the payment function of the future.”
The founding team of Qlub consists of Arun Sharma, Eyad Alkassar, Filiberto Pavan, Gizem Bodur, Jeff Matsuda, Jianggan Li, John Mady, Mahmoud Fouz, Oscar Bedoya and Ramy Omar. The team variously founded and scaled companies like Lazada, Namshi and Snapp.
Filip Dames, founding partner at Cherry Ventures, said: “Adapting to a self-checkout solution is a no-brainer for restaurants as offline payments remain a barrier to turnover.”
Ricardo Sequerra Amram, partner at Point Nine, said: “Qlub is building a win-win offering for consumers who want the freedom of cashless payments and the convenience of self-checkout as well as restaurant owners who, in a post-pandemic world, are even more mindful of compressing their fixed costs and allocating staff to revenue-generating activities.”
Qlub has so far launched in UAE, KSA and India, with additional international markets set to follow in the weeks and months ahead.