Danny Meyer’s private-equity firm invests $10M in voicebot startup ConverseNow

Danny Meyer’s private-equity firm invests $10M in voicebot startup ConverseNow

ConverseNow co-founders

ConverseNow co-founders Rahul Aggarwal and Vinay Shukla. / Photograph courtesy of ConverseNow

AI voice ordering company ConverseNow just got a big endorsement from one of the country’s most well-known restaurateurs.

Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments on Tuesday said it had invested $10 million in the Austin-based startup, which makes a voicebot that can take customers’ orders over the phone and in the drive-thru.

ConverseNow has seen strong demand for the technology amid restaurants’ staffing crunch and said it needed the fresh capital to help keep up.

“One of our biggest challenges has been ramping up our AI to keep up with this demand, so an additional round was necessary to accommodate this customer growth,” said Vinay Shukla, ConverseNow’s co-founder and CEO, in a statement.

ConverseNow raised a $15 million Series A round led by Craft Ventures last August, and its total funding now stands at $28.8 million.

The company has experienced massive growth since its founding in 2018, including a revenue increase of 12x in 2021. Its technology is in use at 1,200 locations, including Domino’s, Fazoli’s and Blake’s Lotaburger, and it claims to be in more restaurants than any other company of its kind.

It says its technology, which uses artificial intelligence to replicate human conversation, can allow restaurants to double their order volume at peak times as well as boost same-store sales and ticket sizes. The voicebot can also provide up to 12 hours of additional labor per store per week, according to the company.

“We’ve seen remarkable results with the customers we’re live with now,” said Rahul Aggarwal, co-founder, COO and chief product officer, in a statement. “Our engineering and product teams have made the impossible possible, and now it’s time to scale these efforts to deploy with more brands, in more stores.”

The famously employee-centric Meyer said ConverseNow will improve the dining experience by giving workers more time to focus on customers.

“For restaurants to earn customer loyalty today they must deliver memorable experiences,” he said in a statement. “Our team is thrilled to partner with ConverseNow as the company drives innovation in the restaurant industry by enabling team members to spend more time interacting with guests where they can bring hospitality to the forefront of their offering.” 

Meyer will join ConverseNow’s board as part of the deal.

The restaurateur behind Shake Shack and a host of other popular New York City establishments earlier this month said he was stepping down as CEO of his restaurant company, Union Square Hospitality Group. But he will keep his role as chairman of Enlightened Hospitality, which he founded in 2017.

The firm’s investments include restaurant concepts Salt & Straw, Joe Coffee and Dig, as well as tech providers such as delivery service Goldbelly, event-planning platform Tripleseat and labor software startup 7Shifts.

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