With $1.5M funding boost, here’s how YC-backed Explorex will revolutionise the restaurant industry with its full-stack solution
Sujay, the owner of Bengaluru-based La Casa Microbrewery, lamented everyday about how his staff worked from the back office until 3 am every night running the day’s reports on a clunky point of sale system because he couldn’t access the information from home. Gowtham, the owner of Barkaas, a casual diner franchise, had signed up with more than 10 different technology providers and was constantly stuck on the phone trying to get the systems to work together. Like Sujay and Gowtham, several discontented restaurateurs are spending valuable time reconciling their disparate systems with this piecemeal digitisation.
To solve this need, Mainak Sarkar and Pritam Khan, friends from IIT-Kharagpur, founded Explorex Technologies in 2020. , as Mainak puts it, is not a regular SaaS platform rather it is a “beyond-software” company. In essence, it is building an ecosystem for the restaurant industry that provides value beyond software, making the lives of the owners, their staff, and their customers easy by caring for each of their needs and catering to them. It is building a full-stack solution for the 30 million+ restaurants in India by solving order management, operations management, online delivery, payment processing, reports and analytics, and guest identification and re-engagement all using one system.
The journey so far
Back in 2017, when Mainak and Pritam began toying with their startup idea, they hoped to take their passion for small businesses to build a technology platform for an industry that wasn’t benefiting much from the digital innovation unlike other industries. Their first startup ‘Eatable’ started as a simple idea conceived in a local restaurant over a shared meal.
“How do we build a mobile app that can streamline the ordering and payment experience at restaurants? We had seen the potential for digital solutions like BookMyShow, Uber, Swiggy, etc to transform businesses, and we noticed how hard the owners of our favourite local spots were working to make up for the shortcomings of their existing technology,” recalls Mainak. However, their first attempt at solving this problem with Eatable failed miserably. It was too difficult to integrate with legacy systems, and they were not able to fathom the immense challenges of running a restaurant. It was then that they decided to go door-to-door, listening to restaurant operators.
“Working closely with owners, operators, and staff, we quickly learned how dissatisfied the restaurant industry was with existing on-premise point of sale systems and the vast ecosystem of disconnected point solutions. We realised the reason restaurants couldn’t innovate was because of the limitations of their technology and the lack of a true partner who understood them,” Mainak adds.
Here's where Mainak and Pritam realised what the restaurant industry was looking for. The market is flooded with a whole host of restaurant technology – almost every task in a restaurant, right from taking an order to mixing a drink to scheduling shifts, can now be managed with a layer of software. All promise to make the complicated business of running a restaurant less so. But there was a desperate need to eliminate this patchwork quilt of tech products.
“There are a lot of software that are being used in the industry but they lack serious juice in terms of usability and ease of operation. This triggered us to build an ecosystem that can be used to manage end-to-end operations of a restaurant, be it a small restaurant or one with multiple chains with the flexibility to add new features which is essential to keep up with upcoming technological advancements,” he explains.
How it works
Explorex leverages a full-stack operating system designed to suit all the needs of the restaurant industry. Its robust restaurant operating system is called Bridge OS since it bridges all of the gaps and challenges that restaurants encounter today. With Bridge OS, Explorex assists the restaurant’s management team with - digitising the orders via QR code ordering, payment collection tool, guest data collection and recognition tool, inventory and recipe management tool, and financial management tool.
Bridge OS allows its partners to manage all their restaurant operations, and all its dynamic needs, from one single device, on a single dashboard that integrates all aggregators, from anywhere at all. From processing and overseeing orders, table management, KOT management, billing, to transaction management – everything can be easily managed under one dashboard. Furthermore, restaurateurs can manage their business both on and off premises, with detailed analytics and reports, from one single device, even from a phone. This not only takes care of the hassle of going to different third-party sites to manage daily operations, it saves 3x time – an impossibly costly asset in the dynamic restaurant industry.
Not just a separate dashboard for its partners, Bridge OS comes with complete digital automation. Any diner who visits the eatery would interact with the guest interface of Explorex, that allows access to a full digital menu with all of the benefits associated with it, access to preferred mode of payment, and a call-for-assistance feature that allows you to get the assistance you need with as minimal human interaction as possible.
Bridge OS also lets restaurateurs engineer the restaurant menu according to their preferences in real-time. With a whole range of customisations, chefs can plan ahead to ensure that target diners have the best possible experience. With menu engineering, restaurant owners have control over inventory as well. Bridge allows inventory management to track supplies and be prepared ahead of time, thereby saving both time and capital.
The restaurant industry, as we know it, has changed dramatically after the COVID outbreak. Explorex is going to be a necessity for every restaurant to operate successfully in the next five years as it is important for them to have an ecosystem that is flexible enough to adapt to fast-changing times and can keep up with the demands that the hospitality industry requires to thrive.
This Y-Combinator-backed company is currently working with 150+ live restaurants and has 500+ restaurants on the waitlist. “Our biggest win, so far, would be to build a strong foundation in Bengaluru with happy clients and being able to spread to other parts of the country in a short span of time. We are building just that and our growing list of partners adds to our confidence and belief that we are heading in the right direction,” says Mainak.
In addition to YC, Explorex has raised a pre-seed of $1.5 million from backers like NY-based VC Fund HOF Capital, Japan’s largest POS Company Smaregi, Zentani Capital, Sevenstars Capital, Enrinson, Twitch’s Kevin Lin, Kaleyra’s Anikheth Jain, MyAsiaVC Sajid Rahman and Relief Technologies’ Taher Savliwala, among others. It is also in advanced stage talks to raise another $5 million in the seed round.