Resto management can go ‘high tech’
Running a food service business involves working with a lot of data. Duncan Gates, CEO and cofounder of cloud kitchen operator Three Guys and a Grill, recalls that he and his employees used to rely on spreadsheet software as well as a pen and paper to manage data from their inventory and purchasing.
While his Parañaque-based delivery-only food business had been able to get by with these tools, he eventually realized how “primitive and needlessly complicated” they were. This was after his beverage partner, Bayani Brew, introduced him to cloud-based Mosaic Solutions in 2020.
“It was like night and day,” Gates says in an email interview, comparing their old and new systems. “We moved from the relative ‘Dark Ages’ to the 21st century with a cloud-based and continually improving, highly supported system in Mosaic.”
Even with just a smartphone or tablet, restaurateurs like Gates can access Mosaic Solutions’ suite of products to help operate critical aspects of their businesses.
Mosaic Solutions offers software for inventory management, purchasing and point of sale (POS), as well as data analytics in order to help owners forecast and plan for growth. Clients pay a monthly subscription fee, depending on the functionality they require and the number of store locations. Because of its accessibility, Mosaic Solutions can also cater to smaller food and beverage (F&B) retailers, such as quick-service restaurants, kiosks, coffee carts, stalls and food trucks.
“Think of us as the restaurant’s central nervous system,” explains Brett Doyle, CEO and founder of Mosaic Solution. “We have the front of the house, which is the point of sale (POS), and any way you get orders. Then at the back of the house, we marry that sales data with inventory management and purchasing. So we can tell you, ‘hey, you’re running low on ground beef and you need to reorder.’ We automate that part of the process.”
For his part, Gates says after upgrading his business’ purchasing and inventory management with Mosaic Solutions, cost of goods went down by 5 percent. The new system has also given his managers up-to-the-minute visibility on the volume, revenue and margin performance of all their products, saving employees a great deal of time by moving from manual to digital input.
Compared with other systems, the 49-year-old cloud kitchen owner testifies that Mosaic Solutions is better for his business because it is specifically tailored for the F&B industry. “This means that they understand the nuance and specific challenges F&B operators can face here, while generalist retail systems can fall over with restaurant operations,” Gates says.
Mosaic Solutions was founded in 2016 when Doyle, along with his wife and then 15-month-old twins, moved to the Philippines to start a business. Doyle was drawn to this country because it seemed like a good place to raise a family. He also saw the opportunity to serve the F&B space, which was estimated to account for more than 30 percent of consumer spending in the country.
Coupled with improvements in technology infrastructure that can now support cloud technology, Doyle says this opened up a local market for their services. The 48-year-old entrepreneur states that Mosaic Solutions is the first mover in the Philippines when it comes to providing a full suite of products connecting front and back-end operations of restaurants.
“Interestingly, a lot of the pain points [in the F&B industry] are the same, regardless of geography. You’re trying to get data in a way that’s easy to use. And a lot of it are very siloed, so you have one place to look for sales data, one place to look for cost data. A real chore! What you see in the US is this more holistic technology,” Doyle says. He thus thought of bringing such all-in-one solution to the local F&B space.
Back in the United States, Doyle was a Business Administration graduate with a master’s degree in general management. When he was still starting his career, he worked for various startups. He also has had experience working in different industries, such as media and technology, and has worked for restaurant groups as well.
While Doyle faced challenges when he first started Mosaic Solutions, such as having to use his own money to fund the company, his experience as an investor in technology gave the business a much-needed head start. When it was launched, the company initially offered a stock-taking app to make stock-taking more efficient. The product was licensed from a company based in Toronto, Canada, whose board of investors Doyle was a part of.
But after conducting a research to develop their own product suite, they found out that one of the biggest pain points of the local F&B industry was purchasing. In 2017, they thus rolled out their purchasing system, soon followed by their POS system in 2018, and analytics platform in 2019. Eventually, they were able to establish their own system for inventory management, completing the suite of products they offer today.
Last July, Mosaic Solutions raised $5 million in “series A” funding, referring to the financing round after a startup has shown progress in building its business model and has demonstrated potential to grow and generate revenue. This round was led by Kickstart Ventures, with the participation of Gentree Fund and Investible. Doyle says the new money will primarily be plowed into their engineering and product development teams in order to improve their systems. Currently, Mosaic Solutions serves around 70 clients covering 1,200 F&B locations all over the Philippines. While they can’t disclose their future plans just yet, Doyle plans to expand outside Metro Manila, and eventually reach the rest of Southeast Asia.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Doyle says more and more restaurateurs have started to see the need to adopt technology to make their business more efficient. “I think that people in our sector have come to need technology in their business, and they like the fact that they can run their business remotely,” he says.
He acknowledges that COVID-19 had a “very human impact on everyone.” He and his company had even decided to help out their customers by offering free services from March to July 2020.
But while the pandemic had been challenging at first, restaurateurs have to continue running their business. As the F&B industry starts to move back to prepandemic sales notwithstanding the rising costs of goods, Doyle says restaurants need to be more efficient and sustainable using technology.
“I always tell people, restaurant business is a combination of art and science. As a chef, you want to create but you have to have part of that science because you need to make money as well,” says Doyle. “So what we do is try to make that science part as easy as possible. Our goal is to give you that data at the right time. So you can make better decisions and have an overall better experience.”
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