Advice for ISV Startups Targeting Restaurants

ISV startups entering the restaurant industry need a good understanding of the industry and a narrow focus to succeed.

Restaurant Technology

If you’re an ISV start up looking to enter the restaurant industry, you may not know where to start. Or, maybe you have a good idea, but you’re a little blurry on the details.  The best advice for an ISV targeting the restaurant industry is to know the market and audience very well.

4 Things ISV Startups Must Know about the Restaurant Industry
  1. Online Ordering. Online ordering is a must-have feature for restaurants offering take-out or delivery services. Most consumers turn to apps like UberEats, GrubHub, or even Yelp to place food orders. Integration with these third-party applications is necessary, if your solution is going to go head to head with your competitors’.
  2. Fast-casual dining. Casual dining is being replaced by fast casual dining. Severs need to be equipped with mobile technology, such as tablet POS, to take orders and payments tableside. Mobile technology will allow servers to work more efficiently, while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction.  Additionally, in an effort to appeal to a new generation of consumers, fast casual dining establishments, such as Panera Bread, Chipotle, and others are creating mobile apps for customers to order ahead.
  3. Conversational ordering. Conversational ordering is the new, intuitive way for restaurant staff to take customer orders at the counter and now, it is being built into quick service and fast casual POS software. This allows restaurant patrons to customize their orders with build-your-own items and saves the kitchen staff from modifying an order incorrectly.
  4. Self-service.  Self-service has also seen a spike in the restaurant industry with the implementation of kiosk technology. For this reason, ensuring your solution integrates seamlessly with self-service kiosk technology is important. You will enable restaurants to reduce order errors and improve customer satisfaction, while remaining in step with your better established and more well-known competition.
How to Determine if There is an Opportunity for a New Application in the Restaurant Industry.

What are your own experiences from dining out or ordering take-out or delivery? Opportunity or the need for new applications in the restaurant industry always rises from consumer demand. For example, the opportunity for mobile ordering applications resulted directly from increased consumer smartphone use.

How does an ISV Startup Position Itself in the Restaurant Marketplace?

Join the National Restaurant Association and attend and exhibit at the NRA show. Even in today’s increasingly technological world, there is no substitute for networking and face-to-face interaction. Get to know the industry influencers. Introduce yourself to prospects. Give hands-on demonstrations on the show floor on how your software solves your prospects pain points. Listen. Gather feedback about how to make your software more marketable or increase its functionality. Then do it.

Take advantage of the extensive value-added reseller (VAR) channel. Reach out to potential partners. Forming strategic business relationships and alliances will allow ISV startups to leverage the experience and reputation of their new, more established partners.

And remember, marketing, marketing, marketing. If you don’t get the word out, how will anyone discover your great software solution? Connect with your existing customers on social media and show them some love through sharing their social posts, or tagging them in some of your own. Use apps like Yelp to identify where business prospects may be experiencing holes in their solutions, for example, not offering online ordering, or receiving bad reviews about service. Develop an engaging website that clearly demonstrates the benefits and features of your software and includes an option for visitors to contact you for more information, sign up for your newsletter, or request a software demo. Include promotions and customer success stories in your monthly newsletter. Great marketing is the key to success for any startup.

Restaurant Trends ISV Startups Should Keep an Eye On

Ordering trends, such as mobile apps and self-service kiosks should be on every ISV startup’s radar. Additionally, the new generation of consumers is more likely to visit a local, family-owned restaurant versus a big franchise location. It’s crucial that ISV startups do not overlook the SMB market. Farm-to-table restaurants are also increasing in popularity along with seasonal menus. Restaurants need applications that will allow them to easily update their seasonal and day-to-day menu items.

The Key to Success for an ISV Working in the Restaurant Industry

Know the market. If an app is developed specifically for a quick service application, do not try to sell it to fine dining restaurants. ISVs see the most success when they build applications for and sell to a specific market. Narrowing your focus and mastering a niche will provide a greater ROI than trying to spread yourself too thin. 


Brianna Moriarty is the Partner Development Manager at Star Micronics where she works with channel-partners to grow their business and develop new markets. Brianna has a background in marketing and uses this to help VARs and ISVs to establish a go-to-market strategy and create co-marketing campaigns. She enjoys following the latest social media marketing trends and creating content for retailers and SMBs.