MITians bring all-in-one tablets to restaurants, get Series B funding led by Intel

Whenever we visit a restaurant and it happens to be crowded, we end up waiting for the order to be taken. In today’s busy life, where things are expected to happen at a faster pace - people have lesser tolerance to wait. To overcome this problem of ‘not to let the guests wait’ E La carte made ‘Presto tablets’ which allows people to browse the menu, order and pay without wasting any time.

E La Carte is a French term which means ‘menu’. E La Carte was founded by a group of MIT engineers. The CEO of the company is Rajat Suri and launched its first Presto tablet in 2011. E La Carte developed the tablet for restaurant and related hospitality industries. The company provides tablets on restaurants tables so guests can order food whenever they want to, children can play games, and even they can pay their bills while seated through credit/debit cards as the tablet is designed in such a way that it recognizes plastic money. The tablet is of 7 inches and helps people visit the restaurant’s menu via photos and detailed descriptions using a touch screen interface. This digital menu may save time and frustration amongst restaurants’ impatient guests. The tablet also has a section for payments and games including drawing apps. Its chain partners include Genghis Grill, global restaurateur, HMSHost, and Evergreen Restaurant group, a franchise of Outback Steakhouse.

Here is a video comparing customer experience at a restaurant using tablets to order and pay v/s traditional restaurants without such option:

Source: E la Carte Presto

Restaurant owners have noticed the following since they started using Presto Tablets at their restaurants:

Increase in sales by 10% Average service time got faster by 7 minutes Average wait time has gone down by 2x times There has been a 9x times increase in usage of the loyalty programs offered

Recently, E La Carte has secured US $ 13.5 Mn in Series B funding led by Intel Capital in participation with Romulus Capital and other investors. This deal was completed on June 24th, 2013. Intel Capital is the venture capital investment arm of Intel Corporation. It invests in companies offering hardware, software and services targeting enterprise, home, mobility, health, consumer internet, semiconductor manufacturing and cleantech. Romulus capital is a venture capital firm that invests in seed stage technology companies. It had also secured funding of US $4 Mn from Lightbank on August 30th, 2011. Lightbank is a venture capital firm which invests in early stage technology companies. The main objectives of these deals were to raise funds and to grow the team, expand deployment of Presto tablets to more restaurants across the US and improve product offerings.

E La Carte also claims that its unique business model may lead to customer retention, keeping order histories for individual guests. The company faces some challenges from competitors such as Ziosk and Rail. Ziosk is a Dallas-based TableTop Media which offers a similar product that has been in use at various restaurants in USA. Rail from Viableware allows restaurant users an option to pay by self swiping debit or credit cards on their respective tables. Rail also has high security features, decreasing any card based frauds at the time of payment.

LTP View: We may soon see that the restaurants are adopting new ways to engage customers at restaurants through the use of technology like digital menus, payments through mobile apps, tablets, etc. The acceptance rate growth and switch to such technologies by restaurants would mean increase in footfalls and revenues. In emerging countries however, such technologies may still see a lower adoption rate. This can be because the restaurant owners are pressed on margins, ROI and some of them also look at ways to evade taxes by accepting cash payments and saying no to cards or advanced means of payments.