The restaurant industry went into a loop two years ago when the pandemic kept people at home. Some were unwilling to accept online orders and others had no delivery network.
Startups, such as fudo, boosted with technology to get restaurants back on their feet. In Fudo’s case, the Argentina-based company offers a web-based restaurant operating system and point-of-sale software that brings together a restaurant’s operations into a centralized “hub.” Now they can take orders, set up tables, manage deliveries, see purchases, check inventory and get detailed analytics about it in real time.
“Most people know Square and Toast in the US, but Latin America is different,” Fudo CEO Justo Ferraro told gotechbusiness.com. “There’s a big difference between corporate restaurants and independent restaurants, and in the US about 30% is independent, while in Latin America it’s 80%.”
Fudo is targeting that independent restaurant customer, most likely using restaurant service technology for the first time. As such, the company also makes it more accessible and charges between $25 and $50 per month.
Co-founder and CTO Juan Manuel Cuello had the idea for Fudo in 2014 after working as a developer at Restorando.com, an open-table-like company acquired by The Fork. While helping one of his restaurant friends who bought some outdated software that didn’t work, Cuello started coding his own software.
He started the company before getting angel investment. Then the pandemic hit, causing Cuello to do “a reset,” Ferraro said. That’s when Ferraro, who previously led the growth of Mercado Pago Point in Latin America, came on board and was joined earlier this year by third co-founder and COO Rafael Teles, also a former executive at Mercado Pago.
Today, the company has a team of more than 70 employees in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. It also grew 10x to support 10,000 restaurants.
It was estimated that Sales of food service in Latin America reached $270 billion in 2021, according to Statista. Venture capitalists have noticed this. For example, this year companies like PreciTaste, Bear Robotics and Lunchbox all received investments for their approach to streamlining restaurant operations.
Fudo is now one of them, raising $7.5 million in seed funding and attracting some big names. The company’s first institutional financing round was co-led by Andreessen Horowitz, Atlántico and MAYA Capital. They were joined by Collaborative Fund, Goodwater and Latitud and a group of angel investors.
With this new capital injection, the startup plans to accelerate its expansion in Mexico, launching its Brazilian operation this month and developing more financial products, initially to take digital payments right at the table, to empower small and medium-sized businesses within the industry support.
“We have the unique opportunity in Latin America to become a one-stop shop, because this is an area that is still very underexposed,” Ferraro said. “We believe we can be the market standard and that’s why we went through this round. We really want to seize that opportunity.”