Servicing the online orders of more than 300 restaurants in the Kansas City metro, Overland Park-based Menufy is scaling its platform across the U.S., while maintaining a startup mindset, said Ashishh Desai.
“Even though now we have over 4,000 restaurants nationwide — every state but Vermont and in 1,200 cities — we still have that kind of underdog mentality,” said Desai, co-founder and director of sales for Menufy, a tech firm that builds websites and provides an online ordering platform for eateries. “We are getting bigger and starting to become a much larger player in the U.S. market, but we still have that mentality where everyone knows where we came from and we came from one restaurant.”
The co-founders, a group of University of Kansas alumni, founded the startup in 2009, while working at Stix Restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas. The Japanese steakhouse needed an online presence, as well as a robust and complementary way for customers to order food.
Challenges quickly began to present themselves, Desai said. Credit card processing was among the first hurdles, as well as a communication and verification system to notify the restaurant of paid orders, he added.
It took a year to work out the kinks, Desai said, but soon the co-founders were ready to tackle a restaurant with multiple locations. Next came dozens, then hundreds of Kansas City small businesses – from pizza shops to Chinese takeout spots.
Eventually, it was time to push Menufy out into the world, Desai said.
“In 2013, I took three co-founders … basically packed everything that we owned and moved to Dallas, because we were out of restaurants in KC, Lawrence, Columbia and Manhattan,” he said. “We started selling in Dallas for about six months, then we packed up and moved to Austin, then Tampa and Denver.”
With the bootstrapped startup — the only major online ordering platform that accepts bitcoin — doubling in size annually, Desai said, Menufy strives to keep the aesthetics and best trappings of a small firm.
“We do still have the startup mentality: You can dress any way you want as long as you’re great at your job and you love your job,” he said.
Looking back, it’s been an incredible journey so far, Desai said, noting a sense of peace and satisfaction that tends to follow the scary, in-the-moment moves necessary to build — and keep — momentum.
“There were times when we took pretty big gambles to make sure our client base was growing,” he said.