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Sunday, Jun 4, 2023

Online Orders Bring New Tech to Old Eatery

Canter’s Deli has been a Los Angeles staple since 1931 and still serves the classic fare that helped make the restaurant an iconic Los Angeles hangout.

But Alex Canter, the great grandson of the founder, said the restaurant business is in flux, with more and more customers ordering online from third party services such as Grubhub and Doordash.

The proliferation of these services has cut into foot traffic at restaurants – a trend the Fairfax deli has not been immune from, according to Canter, who works on business development for the eatery.

“Online ordering is no longer optional,” Canter said. “Any restaurant solely relying on foot traffic is going to lose customers to other restaurants on their block. If your restaurant is not listed on a third-party delivery app, you don’t exist to those customers.”

One-third of Canter’s business now comes from online ordering systems, Canter said, and the restaurant accepts orders from 14 different delivery companies.

Delivery services mean additional customers and revenue, but Canter said organizing and fulfilling orders from numerous apps is an operational nightmare for restaurant employees.

Canter saw an opportunity, and in January 2017 he founded Ordermark, which uses software to streamline delivery service orders into a single user interface for restaurants.

Canter announced last month $3.1 million in seed funding had been raised for the startup, which has 30 employees in its Santa Monica headquarters. More than 200 restaurant brands, including Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, Sonic Corp. and Johnny Rockets, use Ordermark’s software.

Canter declined to disclose the company’s revenue, but it is built on a subscription model. Ordermark charges restaurants $99 per month plus $.25 cents per order. They provide each client with a tablet for the front of the house and a linked printer that’s housed directly in the kitchen. Canter declined to say if the physical equipment came at an additional cost.

Canter said convenience is king and the online model will only grow. Canter’s Deli even started a delivery-only outpost in downtown, a trend people in the industry are calling virtual restaurants or ghost kitchens.

“Online ordering is incremental revenue,” Canter said. “The last dollar in is the most important.”

‘Uber for Babysitters’

Bill Simmons, founder of sports and pop culture website The Ringer, said on one of his recent podcasts that he wished there was an Uber-like service for babysitters. It turns out there is.

Santa Monica-based Bambino, founded by Sean Greene in May 2015, is an app-based marketplace that links babysitters to parents looking for childcare.

The company pulled in approximately $1 million in revenue in 2017, according to Greene. Bambino’s inflows have grown in 2018, Greene added, with $2 million in annualized revenue in March 2018 – a 20 percent increase over February 2018. The company has raised $2 million in total.

Bambino works much like Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc.’s rideshare apps, except it allows parents to vet and choose a babysitter based on recommendations. Parents log in through Facebook Inc., which provides Bambino with a user’s location and contacts. Parents can search for babysitters by time and date needed and get a list of recommended sitters from other users in the area.

Babysitters complete a background check in order to be listed, after which they can create a profile and set their rates on the app. The app tracks the time of the baby-sitting session and handles payments. Parents can message or call sitters using the app and rate them after every booking. Greene said if a sitter falls below a 4.8 out of 5.0 rating, or gets negative reviews, they’re removed pending an investigation.

Bambino takes a five to 15 percent cut from babysitters, based on how often the sitter uses the app. Greene said the app has around 20,000 babysitters and 20,000 parents using it in 50 U.S. markets, including Dallas, Austin, Houston, Chicago, L.A., New York and Indianapolis. The company has five full-time employees and 80 community managers across the country.

There can be some trepidation in booking childcare via an app, but Greene said the service is safer in some ways.

“The number one way parents find babysitters is referrals from friends, family and neighbors,” he said. “They’re in essence letting a stranger into the house unless they’re hiring a family member of friend. They’re just using word-of-mouth. With the app, you’re getting recommendations.”

AppOnboard Funding

AppOnboard, a Los Angeles-based company that creates simulation demos for other apps and games, announced a $15 million Series A round led by Korea Investment Partners with contributions from Mirae Asset Management, Mantaray, MTG and Runa Capital, bringing AppOnboard’s total funding raised so far to $20 million.

The demos allow users to test an app or game before deciding to install or buy the product. Simultaneously, app developers get feedback based on user behavior in the demos, in order to fine-tune their product.

The company said it’s driven a billion interactions since its launch and has partnered with gaming companies.

Staff reporter Eli Horowitz can be reached at ehorowitz@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8335.

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