Chowly raises $5.8 million for new hires and market expansion

This article was originally published on BuiltIn Chicago here, and written by Michael Hines.

Chowly is preparing to supersize its presence in the restaurant industry.

The Chicago company announced on Thursday that it has raised a $5.8M Series A. The round was led by MATH Venture Partners and featured participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and M25 Group, along with other additional investors.

“This is a round really based off of, and focused on, growth,” said Chowly CEO Sterling Douglass. “The funds will be used predominantly for hiring more sales reps, operations team members and developers.”

This is a round really based off of, and focused on, growth.”

Chowly’s software bridges the gap between online food ordering systems and a restaurant’s point of sale, or POS, system. This gap is typically bridged manually, with an employee pulling orders from platforms like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash off a tablet or computer and typing them into a POS system. 

Chowly refers to this system as “tablet hell.”

“About 98 percent of a restaurant’s interaction with these tablets is order entry, and automating that process has been our main focus,” said Douglass. “We’re going to continue to focus on improving that experience while also offering support for that other two percent of tablet interaction.”

This “other two percent” Douglass is referring to includes everything from menu items becoming unavailable to dispatching delivery drivers and requesting food to be prepared earlier.

In addition to product improvements, Chowly is also looking to expand its footprint in the restaurant industry.

Over 1,500 restaurants in 200 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico use the company’s software. These restaurants range from those owned and operated by families to enterprise brands, which the company defines as groups with over 100 locations across the country. Chowly charges restaurants a monthly fee based on the number of online ordering companies integrating with its software and the number of orders processed.

“We’re looking to add as many restaurants onto the platform as we can, both SMBs and enterprise clients,” said Douglass. “We’ve made great progress in our enterprise sales process and product offering, and we’re excited to put fuel on the fire and get some more growth.”

To hit its growth goals, Chowly will do some serious hiring. The company will double in size this quarter, going from 30 employees to 60. Douglass said the company should have between 70 to 80 employees by year’s end.

MATH Venture Partners managing director Troy Henikoff will join the Chowly’s board of directors.

“We’ve been working with Chowly since their seed round in 2016 and have been excited by the team and the problem they’re solving,” Henikoff said in a statement. “Restaurants have an insatiable craving for additional sales through these third-parties, but the operational nightmare they created prevented them from maximizing this opportunity. Chowly solves that.”