The relationship between founder and investor is a critical one. In good times and bad. We share a little bit of background about how these relationships are built.
Our focus on the Future of Food led to a thesis that those building the infrastructure for FoodTech to scale will make a significant impact on the industry. Today there are many ways for restaurants to support the exponential growth in off-premise sales. But this fragmentation can also have executional challenges for both restaurant owners and app creators. Deliverect solves this pain point by creating a one stop shop for managing all deliveries for restaurants, across multiple platforms. This benefits app builders, restaurants, and ultimately consumers who have access to more restaurant choices.
It was great to get a call from Jambu when he joined OMERS Ventures. I knew he was knowledgeable and well-networked in the food industry from his days at Uber Eats. His prior operator experience means we can speak a shared language as we navigate the challenges of scaling a business. Plus, I had a lot of respect for the OMERS Ventures team based on my experience building my first company, POSIOS (acquired by Lightspeed), and knew they had specific food-service growth expertise through their long-term investment in TouchBistro.
I first met and engaged with Zhong in 2018 when I was working at Uber Eats, and his passion and knowledge was evident. I saw first-hand that this is a team of experienced and ambitious entrepreneurs with deep connections, and a vision to solve some of the biggest challenges in the food industry on a macro level. In fact, they were one of my first calls when I joined OMERS Ventures. When we signed our first term sheet, we knew we were jumping on board a rocket ship. There is an incredible sense of energy built into the DNA of this company.
Our partners know that our ambition is to enable food delivery throughout the galaxy -- we’re aiming to deliver a burger to the moon one day. As we were finalizing the deal with OMERS Ventures, the COVID crisis hit us, and we realized that for a company like us, the future is now. We had an opportunity to support restauranteurs during a time of great need. So we moved quickly, expanding our footprint across continents and doubling our workforce in less than 6 months, and our orders increased 10x from the previous year. The OMERS Venture team came into our partnership with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and asked how they could help. I appreciated that posture. They quickly connected us to important partners in the industry, like TouchBistro in North America, and Talabat in the Middle East. These introductions may seem like small acts, but they made a huge impact on our business – we were able to accelerate growth significantly because of those relationships.
The type of support a VC can bring to a company is partially dependent on the type of culture the Founder has cascaded throughout their organization. The Deliverect team has an incredibly strong sense of itself and its purpose. They’ve built a culture of authenticity, trust and transparency. For example, when they expanded into the Canadian market, they added our Head of People to their internal slack channel, giving her full visibility to both the successes and operational challenges of the expansion. They knew she could provide a better perspective and support if she saw the full picture, not just a snapshot.
I’ve found that being honest and transparent with your investment partners helps propel you further and lets you go faster - assuming you have built a team that shares common goals and expectations of each other. When you start a company, you are going to make mistakes because you’re doing things that haven’t been done before, and you’re doing them quickly. So one of your key goals is to make fewer mistakes as you go along. Having the hindsight from others helps you avoid and learn from mistakes they have made in the past. The fact that we share common values with OMERS Ventures makes it easier for us to make decisions together – both for the short and long term. We are motivated to help restaurant owners succeed. I grew up in the restaurant industry - my Dad owns an Asian POS company - and I know first-hand how hard it can be. I also saw how important restaurants are to the fabric of a community. They’re the bread and butter of our society and we want to keep them alive and healthy – futureproofing them with better, simpler technology solutions. I like that OMERS Ventures also supports a larger community through their pension-backed funding structure. They’re driven to provide long-term security for their investors, just like we’re delivering sustainable support for restauranteurs.
Deliverect holds a special place for me, because it was the first company I invested in after I joined OMERS Ventures. It intersects across a lot of areas that we’re focused on -- infrastructure software, B2B SaaS, and the Future of Food. While the food space is one of the most crowded, Deliverect is building the rails for the entire industry to evolve. I admire that kind of big thinking. They are also motivated to look beyond just pure profit margins and invest in making a significant impact in the industry as a whole. All of them have an incredible work-ethic, and combined with their values-based culture, they’re truly one of the teams I’m most proud to stand behind.