Ensuring food safety compliance can be challenging at one restaurant, let alone across thousands of restaurants. Zenput has developed technology aimed at making sure operating procedures are quickly adapted so that businesses maintain quality.
The San Francisco-based operations execution company raised $27 million in Series C financing, led by Golub Capital, to continue developing its application to automate operation procedures like tracking food safety, public health protocols and changing market conditions.
Restaurants, convenience stores and grocery chain customers can use Zenput to update all of their locations — at the same time — with new processes, promotional campaigns and key initiatives while also gathering data and insights from those locations to find opportunities for improvement.
Joining Golub in the round were existing investors, including Jackson Square Ventures, MHS Capital and Goldcrest Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to more than $47 million, co-founder and CEO Vladik Rikhter told TechCrunch.
Greg Gretsch, founding partner and managing director at Jackson Square Ventures, led Zenput’s Series A round in 2016 and had met Rikhter a year prior. At the time, Rikhter was in the early stages of developing what Gretsch called an organization task manager. While he didn’t invest then, he kept in touch with Rikhter and saw “how much of a grinder he was” in expanding the platform.
“When he sees a problem, he works and works to solve it,” Gretsch said. “Whenever you have a multilocation business, you have a remote management problem. You’re trying to manage everything so your weakest link can perform as best as the best link, but you need a platform to manage that so that you can hold stores accountable to improve the end product.”
Front-line workers use Zenput’s mobile app for onboarding at the beginning of the day and to track safety compliance and fresh food checks, something Rikhter said was historically challenging once a business had thousands of locations. The app can also alert when food has been left out too long to assist in lowering food waste rates.
Since its founding in 2012, Zenput is currently used by customers like Chipotle, Domino’s, P.F. Chang’s, Five Guys, Smart & Final and 7-Eleven in over 60,000 locations across more than 100 countries.
The Series C round comes as the company saw 100% revenue growth over the past year. At the same time, product usage more than doubled at stores, and to date, 1.5 billion questions were answered through Zenput, a figure Rikhter expects to double over the next 12 months as locations aim to find ways to do more things remotely.
“The pandemic inadvertently helped us,” he added. “Initially, it was rough, but then a lot of the brands we dealt with needed to expedite technology and saw an opportunity to invest in our technology. We have more products coming because there is more that can be done to make sure every meal is a safe meal.”
Much of the new funding will go toward building those new products and capabilities and into marketing to expand the customer base. The company recently launched an expansion of its Zenput for Franchisors tool and updates to its food prep labeling and temperature monitoring functions.
Rikhter also plans to double Zenput’s employees over the 16 to 18 months, especially in the product engineering and marketing areas.
All of that is to be ready for customer demand as restaurants, convenience stores and grocery chains do more to change up the way they do business in the future.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to show up at a restaurant and see changes made daily on protocols, which will drive a lot more of the journey than before,” Rikhter said. “We see more operators flexing muscles they didn’t know they had, as it relates to promotions and products, so they can grow faster and run totally different operational features and offer more options for customers.”
By Christine Hall