A pandemic-resilient startup? MAGNiTT interviews Co-Founder and CEO of GrubTech, Mohamed Al Fayed

GrubTech, an end to end SaaS platform enabling the digital transformation of restaurants and cloud kitchens, recently raised $2M in Seed funding from the region’s industry captains and family offices. 

Following the announcement, we spoke with GrubTech's Co-Founder and CEO, Mohamed Al Fayed to delve into the importance of technology in the food and restaurant industry, GrubTech's growth plans, what the most exciting thing happening in the foodtech world is, how COVID-19 affected the usage of their platform, and more.

Q1. To start, tell us briefly about GrubTech. How does it work? 

GrubTech is an operating system for delivery centric restaurants and cloud kitchens. As restaurants rely more and more on online ordering, we automate the entire process from order generation to delivery in a seamless and efficient manner that reduces operating costs and collapses the delivery time.

Q2. It is quite extraordinary that you managed to raise this round with the current COVID-19 crisis. Was this in the works from much earlier?

COVID-19 was a silver lining to our business model, it served as a catalyst for our sector’s digitization and concreted our product-market fit. Fortunately, all our investors recognized that we were ‘pandemic-resilient’ which strengthened their investment interest and concluded the round successfully.

Q3. How did the current climate affect GrubTech’s usage? Did you see many restaurants having to implement or introduce SaaS to ensure continuity?

Absolutely, the pandemic accelerated the digitization of the F&B sector as online becomes the sole revenue stream for restaurants. This accentuated the current friction points they experience like the ‘sea of tablets’ you see in most restaurants today. It enforced our product’s use case and demand has been insatiable. 

Q4. GrubTech’s vision is to revolutionize the landscape of the foodservice industry by offering the best technology. How important is and can technology be to the food and restaurant industry?

Our vision is to enable the digital transformation of the F&B sector using the latest frameworks and technology stacks. The sector has seen little tech innovation and restaurateurs of all sizes are struggling to cope with the sudden shift of revenue channel. We have seen other sectors go through this transformation like retail as an example, and technology is the bedrock that enables this transformation. Out of the box we give our clients incredible tools to successfully navigate this transformation.

Q5. It’s safe to assume that after this round, you're going to have some exciting growth plans. Can you share some of GrubTech’s short-term plans for expansion with us? 

GrubTech is a global innovation play, our technology can support multiple languages and currencies and we will be entering new geographies soon. We have attracted interest from large international brands in Europe and South East Asia and we plan on meeting this demand this year. As to the product roadmap, we are really excited about our upcoming Marketing Module. The team is working on a next-generation machine learning customer data platform capable of hyper-personalization across social media, email, and SMS that truly is remarkable. Our ability to hone in on personas and profiles based on previous purchases to allow for optimizing return on ad spend is unmatched in the sector. We see this as one of our flagship products that has tremendous potential.

Q6. What were you looking for from your investors, beyond capital?

We have been quite selective as we were oversubscribed in our round and partnered with investors who could facilitate market access, customer introductions, and had deep roots in the sector. We have been privileged to have such support from the industry.

Q7. What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling GrubTech in MENA / beyond?

The rapid speed of growth while is a good problem to have comes with its own set of challenges. Identifying and onboarding the right talent, not just from a skillset perspective but also from a cultural fit is a hurdle we have to navigate. We are fanatical about the company culture and ensuring that every colleague lives our values in their daily transactions within the team and our clients.

Q8. In your opinion, what are some of the most exciting things happening in the foodtech world right now?

We have a thesis that food is following the trends of fast fashion. Through the advent of cloud kitchens and food aggregators, food trends in South Korea can find themselves transported to Dubai in a matter of weeks. You will see more food trends jumping borders and morphing consumer preferences at a much faster rate than before. Another key trend we will see unfold is hyper-personalization. As more health data is captured and integrated into our daily lives, your watch can suggest your next lunch order based on your workout this morning and your diet requirements.

Q9. What is your big-picture vision for the future of GrubTech?

We aim to be at the forefront of innovation of the F&B sector, there is a lot of change on the horizon from robotic food prep to IoT enabled kitchens. We spend a lot of time envisioning the future and building product that fast track these capabilities for today’s use cases. We take exceptional pride in that we are born in the region and not a copycat startup borrowing from previously established models around the world. We are driving global innovation from Dubai and proud of that accomplishment.

Q10. Finally, what advice would you give to yourself five years ago? :) 

Stay humble, stay hungry and if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Are you a startup looking for investment? Apply for funding to 80+ investors now.

Despite the current crisis, H1 2020 has seen $659M invested in MENA-based startups, which is already 95% of total funding full-year 2019. Discover more data, including country and industry trends by purchasing our H1 2020 MENA Venture Investment Report