An employee places a drink order with a customer in the drive-through of a Starbucks coffee shop in Rodeo, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Restaurant tech startup Agot AI has closed a $ 10 million financing round that will help the company accomplish its mission to improve the accuracy of fast food orders.
The start-up installs overhead cameras in restaurant kitchens and uses computer vision to check – similar to autonomous vehicles – whether the employees are preparing the orders correctly. The technology is designed to improve work efficiency and reduce customer waiting times.
Agricultural investment firm Continental Grain, which recently bought poultry giant Sanderson Farms with Cargill, led the startup’s seed funding round. The Kitchen Fund – which is invested in Sweetgreen, Cava, and Gregorys Coffee – and Grit Ventures also participated.
According to Pitchbook, Agot raised just $ 50,000 during its previous funding round in May 2020.
“We are excited to help the Agot team bring their computer vision solution to market, increase work efficiency, improve off-premise operations and provide real-time analytics to demanding QSR operators,” said Continental Grain in a statement to CNBC.
Order accuracy can have a profound impact on consumer willingness to return to a restaurant and the overall experience. The American Customer Satisfaction Index’s annual consumer survey found that fast food restaurant orders were accurate 84% of the time in 2021, which was less than the previous year.
Agot co-founder and CEO Evan DeSantola said the technology can detect over 85% of order errors and alert them to these issues before staff serve food to customers.
“We see that all over the [quick-service restaurant] Order accuracy in the industry is becoming a growing concern as a result of the shift to drive-through, “said DeSantola.” What was once a minor pain point if accuracy rates haven’t gotten much better is now a much bigger pain point. “
Drive-through orders increased prior to the pandemic, but the health crisis resulted in many consumers switching to this ordering method due to closed dining rooms, convenience and safety concerns. In December, drive-through transactions were up 22% year over year, according to the NPD Group. SeeLevel HX’s annual drive-thru study found that average times at 10 fast food chains slowed by almost half a minute over the past year.
DeSantola and his co-founder, Alex Litzenberger, who serves as the company’s chief technology officer, met while studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. You founded the company 2½ years ago after experiencing long waiting times and incorrect orders yourself. The founder’s alma mater also took part in the seed round.
“At Agot, we knew it wasn’t a point solution,” said Greg Golkin, managing partner of the Kitchen Fund. “It’s a platform that is being built and order accuracy is just the first application. Computer vision won’t stop there. “
Golkin also said that Agot was furthest ahead of other startups exploring similar computer vision solutions in restaurant technology. According to its founders, Agot has received several takeover bids that it has declined.
DeSantola said the typical Agot customer has at least 2,000 restaurant locations. However, he declined to share the names of current restaurant customers, citing strict nondisclosure agreements.
Agot plans to use the cash from the latest round of funding to expand its product and engineering teams and expand its reach for both existing customers and adding new chains to its roster.