HBD backs catering software firm

18 February 2008

HBD Venture Capital – the venture capital company founded by “space tourist” Mark Shuttleworth – has announced an investment of R9-million into technology start-up orderTalk, a creator of highly sophisticated online restaurant ordering software that has its back office operations in Cape Town.

HBD said in a statement last week that the latest deal brings to three the number of investments made by the company in early-stage South African entrepreneurial businesses in the past few months.

OrderTalk, which provides software for internet-based ordering to the restaurant, fast food and hospitality industries, will use the financing to improve its infrastructure, introduce new product lines and streamline services and support – all in a bid to meet huge demand in the US and UK.

HBD investment manager Eben van Heerden explained that rigorous research and investigation showed orderTalk to be an exceptional investment prospect that was highly scaleable and promised rapid growth

“OrderTalk’s software is the most sophisticated of its kind internationally,” Van Heerden said. “It provides food chains with outlets of 50 or more with a branded online ordering functionality in a very short period of time and takes care of all the technical aspects of the process.”

The orderTalk software allows restaurant patrons to place real-time orders, as well as any subsequent changes, over the internet.

“For example, one can easily replace anchovies with asparagus on a pizza prior to an order being processed,” HBD said. “Regardless of the complexity of a menu, the software can also be integrated with point-of-sale systems, as well as live calls to a customer contact centre.”

Originally created by a Dallas-based South African for a mid-sized US-based fast food firm, the software is now used in about 600 restaurants in both the US and UK, including Jason’s Deli, Bombay Bicycle Club, Yo! Sushi and EasyPizza.

OrderTalk CEO Patrick Eldon said that despite its extensive international presence, the company’s back office functions were conducted from Cape Town, adding that South Africa’s talented workforce and efficient communications infrastructure made it highly feasible to operate such services from the country.

“Given that South Africans are sophisticated online consumers who are increasingly integrating the internet into their daily lives, orderTalk’s software was recently introduced in the country,” Eldon said. “Ordering takeaways online is a convenience which we feel sure will grow in popularity, and we are currently trialling the product with a leading local pizza delivery company.”

Van Heerden pointed out that HBD’s three latest investment deals – with orderTalk, Moyo and SACab – were with unique companies that were all headed by highly passionate teams.

“We are looking forward to working with them and offering them mentorship, strategic guidance, governance support and backing – all with the aim of achieving global success,” he said.

SAinfo reporter

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