Hospitality tech firm Mr Yum secures $11m to take QR code ordering tech offshore

Melbourne-based hospitality tech firm Mr Yum has raised A$11 million to expand its QR code ordering technology throughout New Zealand, American and Britain.

The business, which has been operating both a pick-up and delivery service in addition to its primary smart menu technology in New Zealand since early 2020, earlier closed a A$1.5m seed funding round in 2019.

The latest major investment was led by Brisbane venture firm Ten13 and AirTree Ventures. Other investors in the tech and hospitality space, along with Australian NBA-star Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs and Shark Tank’s Andrew Banks, also invested in the firm.

Mr Yum co-founder and chief executive Kim Teo told the Herald the A$11m ($11.8m) capital would be spent on developing its product and on global expansion.

The Australian start-up already has small teams in the United States and Britain, and in the past 12 months the value of its transaction have increased 27-fold.

Mr Yum started out at the end of 2018 as a provider of digital menus for cafes and restaurants, enabling diners to scan a QR code to order meals and drinks from their phones, without having to download an app, back when QR codes were “considered dead”.

It was solely-focused on dine-in product prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but pivoted to offer pick-up and a delivery when lockdowns hit and the company’s revenue, like its hospitality firm clients’ plummeted.

Since then QR codes had since become mainstream and the technology was enabling greater convenience within the hospitality sector, said Teo.

“Hospitality has traditionally been slow to adopt technology … I think us and our competitors have done a really good job at leveraging what was 2020 and the pandemic to be able to help the industry transform itself,” said Teo. “What would have likely taken three to five years longer, we’ve seen that change happen in a space of months.”

The pandemic had been a blessing in disguise for the uptake in technology, she said.

The firm built and launched its pick-up and delivery tech two days after the first lockdown in March and spent the majority of 2020 focusing on that to keep restaurants afloat.

Mr Yum is expanding throughout New Zealand, and has recently partnered with a number of local hospitality groups, including a 30-venue group.

“The New Zealand market didn’t have as much as a Covid scare as the rest of the world so the kind of impact on hospitality wasn’t quite the same as in Australia, especially in Melbourne where venues were closed for four months. But we’re definitely seeing uptake andinterest in how it can help businesses and give customers a better experience.”

Mr Yum first expanded into New Zealand in February 2020, through Australian Venue Co, which operates seven local venues, including Auckland rooftop bar Dr Rudi’s, and Funlab, which operates Holey Moley and Strike.

Mr Yum would look to build a local team in New Zealand as it grew its local client base, Teo said. “If we meet a great hospitality brand or grow our portfolio there a fair bit more we would look to high a team there. There’s lots of opportunity in New Zealand.”

Outside of New Zealand, Britain and the United States were a main priority for the firm as it rolls out its technology in those markets.

“We want to dominate our home base and become a market leader in those regions.”

Mr Yum currently employs 65 full time staff and was started by friends Kim Teo, Kerry Osborn and Adrian Osman, who formerly ran other businesses together. Andrei Miulescu joined the team early on in its journey and is also a co-founder.

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