At every restaurant conference there’s a long list of speakers and panelists who wouldn’t even make their sixth grade science fair.
Eliminated in the first round as if “Look what I can stick in my nose” is somehow advancing the human race.
But amazingly, by no small miracle, these individuals are fawned over by a desperate choir of vendors, hoping – praying – that maybe, just maybe, the restaurant will do business with them.
Because in the restaurant vertical, restaurants don’t pay for anything, and vendors are slaves to the restaurant.
The only way to escape that narrative, of course, is to steal the restaurant’s customers and rent them back, or pound them on payments margins.
Restaurants have literally fostered an ecosystem where the only way a vendor wins by any economic measure is to steal from the restaurant.
For vendors not willing to engage in this behavior, it’s a miserable way to piss away your career.
We’ve watched uber-talented founders chase restaurants for years, in some cases fully aware of the terrible decision they’ve made, but they’re stuck because they’ve taken external money.
Once you take outside money you’re doomed to be a restaurant’s lackey until you find an exit, which would be lucky to return investor money 1x, meaning the founder is literally making less money than an entry level restaurant employee despite often having > 60 IQ point spread.
It’s truly sad.
Now’s the part of the article where you can get indignant, offended, and refute this.
Or you can acknowledge the truth and read the following examples.
Nearly every founder who had the chance to leave the restaurant industry left and never looked back.
Nor should they.
It’s a terrible place to make a living, where every day is a soul-sucking tragedy that even Shakespeare would label moribund.
Let’s look at the recent founders who exited the industry and how their next company was not “selling to restaurants”.
[Company redacted for earn-out concerns of founder]
This company was acquired by a behemoth restaurant tech company that undoubtedly gives the acquired founders vast exposure and pedigree. Surely these founders would see just how awesome the restaurant industry is with such a vantage point, no?
Lolz. It’s precisely what they saw that has them leaving when their earn-outs are done – into the defense sector.
Founder Matt is now working on sports of all things. Getting hit in the nuts by an errant football beats a self-administered vasectomy in the restaurant industry any day.
The founders sold the POS company to SYSCO foods. They then went on to build Cut + Dry which manages data for restaurant suppliers, sidestepping the pain of selling to restaurants.
Also taking advantage of a favorable multiple, their CEO exited to a PE group in 2021. Now Plate IQ’s founder and CEO is working on an AI sales startup aimed at everyone but restaurants.
Onosys sold to Living Social, and then the founder went on to found Scout RFP. He sold sold it to Workday for $450M and has subsequently founded Levelpath. Guess what? Levelpath is not touching restaurants either.
Both cofounders left restaurants: one is working on gaming and the other on non-restaurant fintech. One already founded and sold a fintech business to Array for nearly 9 figures while restaurant tech vendors have been trying to convince restaurants to pay them a paltry $0.26 for what amounts to 3,039 hours of founder labor.
A bit of an oldie, but the founder left and went into healthcare. He might be back but we don’t know that story well enough to confirm the stupidity.
Sold to Medallia and working on an AI startup for enterprise back office tasks. Enterprise = companies where someone has an IQ > 90, so restaurants are automatically disqualified.
After exiting to Global Payments, the founder retired and the next-in-line CEO left and went on to work on swimming pool software. Literally anything but restaurants.
The founder became a VC after exiting to Vista Equity. Precisely zero of his investments while at Foundation Capital, his VC firm, have gone into retail or restaurant vendors. Why would someone with such a deep understanding of the industry avoid investing in it? Shouldn’t he have unique insights?
Maybe he wants to keep his job and make his investors a return on their capital. No restaurants. Ever.
Exited at peak market for $190M to Olo, their founding CEO is now working in the defense sector while another of the founders is going into marine biology. For such a lucrative win, why wouldn’t the founders return?
Take a fucking guess.
Who else did we miss? Let us know.
Or if you know people crazy enough to suffer through restaurants more than once, shine a light.
You see, when restaurants are fawned over they don’t think they’re the problem. This needs to stop.
The restaurant industry needs some damned self-awareness.