By Chirag Chotalia, Partner
We are big believers in the power of software to empower small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to compete against large incumbents. Companies such as ServiceTitan and AutoLeap are emerging as leaders because their platforms enable SMB customers to run their businesses better and more efficiently, and capture a greater share of wallets while offering a better consumer experience. We have a strong conviction that there will be many multi-billion dollar businesses created in vertical SaaS and it’s a primary investment thesis for Threshold.
Less than three years ago we invested in BentoBox, the company leading the way in creating digital storefronts for more than 7,500 restaurants — from New Yorks’s famed Gramercy Tavern, to up-and-comer One White Street. We had conviction in the team’s approach to help small, independent restaurants as well as iconic hospitality groups like Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Krystle Mobayeni, Pierre Drescher, and the entire BentoBox team deserve a toast for their achievement in building a successful business and the acquisition by Fiserv, Inc.
As an investor and avid foodie, it’s a moment of reflection as we travel back in time to early 2017. We first met Krystle then, and we were impressed with her vision, passion, and knowledge of the hospitality sector. She is the rare entrepreneur that not only accomplishes what she sets out to do, she over-delivers. And that got our attention. We subsequently led the Series B in late 2018 and joined the BentoBox board.
What caught our eye in addition to BentoBox’s stellar growth and best-in-class metrics was the team’s deep understanding of the hospitality industry.
Many have either worked in restaurants or been affiliated in various ways with the industry. It was clear their strategy and decisions were driven by how they related to the challenges their customers experienced.
The team’s empathy and knowledge of the right products, services, and support to provide, as well as possessing a strong mission-driven culture give them a unique competitive advantage.
We saw their empathy and experience come into play as we witnessed the team adapt to a rapidly changing environment when the pandemic began in 2020. While many businesses were negatively impacted by Covid, restaurants were especially devastated. As we all sadly know, many restaurants were unable to survive.
BentoBox saw an opportunity to help its customers in new ways and rapidly developed an online ordering solution that allowed restaurants to capture all the revenue from delivery/pickup orders versus giving up 25–30%+ to third-party aggregators. BentoBox experienced a surge in business, and the team seized the opportunity.
While we love being a part of the first phase of a company’s journey, we know the best days are ahead for BentoBox. Congratulations to Krystle, Pierre, and the entire team. Cheers to BentoBox from your partners at Threshold!