Introducing Momos: Pushing forward the F&B eCommerce revolution

Sai Alluri
8 min readSep 29, 2021

Guiding Restaurants through a global pandemic and beyond

There is an old adage in the F&B industry; “If you make good food, people will come”, and rightfully so. Restaurateurs and chefs are passionate about what they do, are resilient, and do right by the customer. All of the restaurateurs who we’ve worked with, through the food they make, bring joy to the diners that come to their restaurants, and were able to build in a very competitive industry.

If you made good food, it was also enough to invest heavily in renting expensive real estate as that would have guaranteed you footfall — rental payments were basically where most of the marketing dollars was spent. This started changing over the last decade as customers started evaluating where they would eat even before leaving their house by checking on review sites, Instagram, Google Maps etc. Diner conversion drops tremendously if you don’t have social media content, had poor reviews or just didn’t have a visible online presence.

COVID-19 took it one step further and changed everything again in 2020, perhaps permanently.

When the global pandemic hit our home in Singapore in early 2020, the F&B industry faced an unprecedented shift. Restaurants no longer had access to their physical customers, and had to move their businesses online. The food delivery platforms and new online channels were there to receive them, but for restaurants who were new to building their online presence, it was difficult to change so quickly.

After helping launch the Uber Eats & GrabFood businesses in APAC, I was working for an exciting venture at Grab to build out the cloud kitchen business. When COVID happened, our business increased materially, and restaurants everywhere were looking to grow on our platform. The tricky part of digital marketplaces is that there is limited real estate on a mobile app and with more restaurants joining every day, there is no easy way for you to standout.

This was one of the toughest challenges I faced; we built a marketing and operations team to work with restaurants daily to better optimize their growth. However, I couldn’t help but wonder,

If it was a challenge for us to grow restaurants on a single platform, how difficult must it be for restaurants to manage all of their online channels?

This is where Momos comes in, we help restaurants harness their own data to maximize revenue and growth. We connect all the online channels they use across food discovery, social media and food delivery, to streamline their marketing, reviews, and analytics. We simplify the approach to their online operations, so they can focus on what they do best — making food that people love.

We’ve been building this product with our early restaurant partners since November 2020. We’ve had industry leaders such as The & Lo and Behold Group and Jia Group, who operate a portfolio of Michelin starred restaurants, fast growing QSRs such as Flash Coffee, Wolf Burgers, Guzman y Gomez, and local champions Jekyll & Hyde, and Tree Side Nasi Lemak iterate on our product with us since the beginning. In many ways, these are the tools that we’re used to at some of the fastest growing tech companies in the world, but tailor-made for restaurants. Global QSRs have had sophisticated tools and marketing teams for years; we are democratizing them for the other 15 million restaurants in the world.

F&B eCommerce: Maximizing throughput in a restaurant

In the same way that we’ve seen eCommerce transform the retail industry in the last 20 years, we believe we are seeing the advent of this same digitization in the F&B industry. Historically, restaurants operated in a low margin, brick and mortar business model at the mercy of organic footfall that their rental prices afforded. Online advertising, social media and food delivery have permanently changed this. Diners interact with a restaurant entirely online; now you can run localized, targeted ads to find prospective customers, engage your most loyal diners on social media and offer convenience through food delivery.

Given the main goal for a restaurant is to bring in more diners, it is important to be available on all the channels where diners currently exist. This includes social media, all the food delivery channels, reservation platforms, review sites etc — otherwise you are leaving valuable sales at the door.

Virtual Brands (concepts that are only available on delivery) are the equivalent of D2C in the eCommerce industry. Just as Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club and Away disrupted established incumbents through better unit economics and savvy online advertising, Virtual Brands can unleash the same creativity from restaurant operators. By launching Virtual brands, operators can maximize the revenue per sqft by offering new choices during their non peak hours. For example, we worked with a renowned cocktail bar in SG, Jekyll & Hyde, who created 2 of their own virtual brands that they can operate during traditionally off-peak hours of weekday lunch and dinner times. The owner has since launched 2 more brands and views Virtual brands as a key lever for growing their overall business.

I strongly believe we are going to witness a renaissance in the F&B industry where diners can have unlimited choices of what they can eat — all fulfilled by restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines.

The F&B winners of the next decade will be hybrid where they excel in both dine-in and delivery and can use data, digital advertising and social media to reach an ever growing base of loyal customers.

F&B: The importance of digital marketing

Restaurants are spending more than ever on marketing to grow their business. With delivery aggregator fees, social media channels, and SEO, restaurants are investing in growth, and are having to adapt to their new online reality. The largest restaurants in the world have million dollar marketing budgets and hundreds of marketers. However, this level of complexity and operations is not typically available to the majority of other smaller restaurants. While restaurants know that marketing is important, the amount of options available to them can be daunting, and it’s often hard to optimize these channels for growth.

A diner interacts with a restaurant entirely online now, whether they are dining in, ordering delivery, or picking up take-out; for a restaurant to truly capture the opportunity, they will need to shift more and more of their marketing dollars online. For the restaurants who can master genuinely growing their online presence, the growth can be unbounded.

The food delivery platforms understand this shift, and are adapting quickly. They are investing heavily into their ad networks, creating new functionality, and giving restaurants more and more ways to get their brand and food to diners. In China, where food delivery is the most mature vs anywhere else in the world, advertising contributes materially to overall revenue.

What we do: Managing and growing the online restaurant

Since restaurants are becoming entirely online, and more complex, the tools that they use need to keep up as well. We often say we are building the Shopify for F&B, but in reverse. We are starting with the tools; marketing and analytic solutions to allow a restaurant to tame these new online channels, and streamline their operations so they can focus on growing their business.

1. Content Management
We make it easy to manage all the information the diner needs to eat at your restaurant. We host all your hours, locations, dine-in and delivery info centrally on the Momos platform. Update once, and push out everywhere on all food delivery, social and online channels. You can even build your own microsite in under 2 minutes so that your diner can easily access this information.

2. 360 Degree Customer Service
We focus on the 3 R’s. Reviews, replies, and responses.

  • Reviews on food delivery platforms, and discovery platforms,
  • Replies on social media,
  • Responses on chat.

By bringing all your customer interactions into one place, we make it easy to manage, respond and understand your customer feedback quickly and automatically. We give you sentiment analysis so you can understand why your diners feel the way they do, tools so you can get back to them quickly, and analytics so you can get a 10,000 foot view of your customer feedback at any time.

3. Digital Marketing
Google and Facebook dominate the lion share of digital advertising globally but also have had to build their platform to accommodate all industries. At Momos, we integrated with Google and Facebook / Instagram APIs and allowed restaurants to run industry specific ads to drive higher ROI. We drastically simplify the ad creation and attribution process, allowing restaurants more control in growing their business. Unlike eCommerce, restaurants are highly localized and need accurate geo-targeting to find the correct set of customers — Momos makes this a lot easier.

We are also partnering with the largest food delivery companies globally to simplify the ad and promo creation process for restaurants, and expect this to be a massive channel for them going forward.

4. Analytics
All your restaurant’s online data all in one place. Track revenue, orders, marketing spend, and ROI all in one location. We give you deep dives by restaurant, by location, by channel, all split by item, or time of day

Build Build Build

At Momos, we are obsessed with taking restaurant feedback and using software to seamlessly solve their pain points. The exciting news for us is that they are never satisfied which motivates us to keep building and adding more features to the platform. We know how resilient our restaurant partners are; we hope Momos will help simplify their online operations and allow them to focus on doing what they do best; making food people love.

We are also incredibly humbled to have raised our seed funding of USD$6.5 million, led by Sequoia Capital India and Alpha Wave Incubation / Falcon Edge capital. We will look to deploy this capital to expand internationally across APAC & launch in the US in the coming months.

Quick shoutout to everyone that has been there along this journey so far. Our early customers, friends, family, and of course the Momos team, you’ve all been monumental in getting us to where we are now. But we are confident in saying, the best is yet to come.

To anyone else reading this and wants to join our team, we are perpetually hiring. Come build the next-gen SaaS platform for the food and beverage industry, we can’t wait to hear from you.

Onwards and forwards.

Sai Alluri,
Co-Founder and CEO