The startup course has been cleared for Leawood-plated Menufy as the tech company emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic ready to serve its customers a new identity while doubling down on its decade-old mission to empower restaurateurs.
“The pandemic initially complicated things, then accelerated things and kept things complicated. … We don’t really think of ourselves as a startup anymore,” explained Ashishh Desai, co-founder and director of sales for the 12-year-old company — telling Startland News the business has officially entered its scale up phase.
Menufy empowers restaurateurs with an online ordering website designed around the restaurant’s brand and offers full data ownership, a loyalty program, analytics, and a suite of digital and print marketing services. Customers can order from the restaurant’s website or from the Menufy portal or app, which offer more payment options than any other restaurant e-commerce system.
A pandemic-fueled sales boost essentially doubled Menufy’s customer base in the spring of 2020, moving growth plans to the front of the house, he added.
“From the beginning, we’ve always talked to our clients about what they needed and just adjusted the software to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the majority of our customers,” he said.
Menufy’s foundation of adaptability is one of the key reasons the bootstrapped-company thrived in the heaviest days of the pandemic, Desai continued, citing a quick rollout of features that streamlined curbside delivery and contactless pickup services for locally owned restaurants in 3,000 cities nationwide.
“When you’re a restaurant that’s kind of panicked and doesn’t know what the future holds sometimes your closest partner and your least expensive partner are the ones that you focus on,” he said.
“We happen to be the least expensive and the one that they have the closest relationship with. … We had the availability [to listen] and I think that made us a better option or a more obvious option when everyone was weighing multiple delivery companies and multiple online ordering options. ”
Click here to learn more about Menufy and how its products work.
Signs of growth aren’t limited to external (or pandemic-fueled) momentum, Desai said, referencing the company’s organic commitment to fostering a workplace representative of the world in which its co-founders have always existed — an asset that’s become a critical component of Menufy’s customer experience.
“Between the co-founders, our lives and our friend circles have always looked like the United Nations,” he said, adding that among the company’s 140-employees, representation from nearly every recognized minority group can be found.
“We have someone from Russia; we have someone from Eritrea; we have Indian Americans; we have Vietnamese Americans; we have Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, Taiwanese Americans; a Swiss national who speaks French, Mandarin and English,” Desai said, highlighting ways through which Menufy has created a welcoming and inclusive environment that’s simultaneously empowered customers to do business in ways that feel natural to them — and with people who understand everything from their values to their cuisine.
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“In 2009, three of Menufy’s co-founders operated a fine dining restaurant in Kansas City that was facing growing obstacles beyond its doors: Customers complained that it was nearly impossible to place to-go orders by phone when the front-of-house staff was busy serving diners, and customers didn’t have up-to-date online information about the restaurant,” the company said.
“To address these shortcomings, the trio approached a group of software engineers and a marketing strategist about entering the digital space. At the time, many restaurants didn’t have their own website and none of the e-commerce solutions addressed all the digital needs of restaurant operators.”
“To solve these problems, the team incorporated with the proposition that every restaurant should have an easy-to-use website that’s free, branded, accurate, and ready for off-premise business.”
Menufy is led by Sharmil Desai, CEO, and Susan Escher, CFO and head of strategy.
In recognition of its accomplishments (both internal and public facing), Menufy recently was named one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’ Top 10 Small Businesses — putting the company in the running for its coveted Mr. K Small Business of the Year Award.
“It would be a nice shot in the arm — pardon the pandemic pun,” Desai laughed.
“When you’re in the startup world, a lot of times you’re hyper focused on your clients, running the business, growing the business [rather than marketing it.] The Chamber’s recognition of us would really be a game changer, especially in the Kansas City area.”
Click here to learn more about the KC Chamber’s annual celebration and other businesses named to its Top 10 list or here to RSVP for its June 24 virtual luncheon where the Mr. K award will be announced.
While Menufy awaits news of its status in the race for Small Business of the Year, the company is doing what it’s always done best: staying out of the spotlight and building the best product it possibly can, Desai said.
The company recently partnered with Uber as it begins to expand its reach with third party delivery services, he added, noting such growth is part of the company’s overall strategy for becoming a hub that services a variety of restaurants ‘ operational needs.
“If you have questions about Google ads or Facebook or you want direct POS integrations, search engine optimization, email marketing, digital marketing, we really want to be that one-stop shop for a restaurant,” he said.
“80 percent of our team has previous restaurant experience — from operators to servers to line cooks. I think that’s one of the things that really makes us good at what we do. … I think you want a team that’s really good at what they do and we service restaurants really, really well.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.