January 22, 2014
Venga recently closed a $1 Million Series A round from VCs and Restaurateurs led by Militello Capital and including Think Food Group (Jose Andre’s restaurant group) and Big Red Ventures (Cornell University’s venture fund), among others.
Venga offers the only complete customer management system for resaurants. Their patent-pending technology links restaurants’ point-of-sale systems with reservation systems such as Open Table. This helps restaurants see what individual guests are purchasing and tap into guests’ habits and preferences. The overall goal is to help restaurateurs learn more about their guests, increase customer satisfaction, and offer more targeted email campaigns and personalized customer service.
The company was founded in 2010 by Sam von Pollaro and Winston Bao Lord. Sam is also the founder of Petals for the People, an online fresh flower subscription service which he sold to Battery Ventures. Winston is a former Executive Director of the Washington Baseball Club which helped bring Major League Baseball back to DC. He also has a background in marketing and PR.
The idea for Venga was inspired by something hotels have been doing for years. Hotel chains can track guests’ likes and dislikes to heighten their experience. They want to help restaurants catalogue customers’ preferences the same way. According to co-founder Winston Bao Lord:
“If a guest requests a down pillow at one Ritz Carlton location, the next time she checks into any Ritz Carlton she will find a down pillow on her bed without even asking for one. When Sam and I created Venga, our goal was to help restaurants caalog and act on guest insights in the same way.”
It can keep track of what type of wine a particular customer orders, or if there are any food restrictions or allergies. It will set a higher standard for restaurant service across the board. Also, the management system was designed to work seamlessly with the restaurant’s point-of-sale system. There is no responsibility on the guest to give additional information and no additional work on the part of restaurant staff.
The founders partially credit DC’s thriving food and tech scene for their inspiration and success. The city has allowed them the opportunity to work with some of the top restaurateurs in the country and to receive financial support from several local thought leaders.
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