F&B Startup Hungry for Growth, Eyes Big City
The online restaurant-scheduling service company has its sights set on industry giant HotSchedules.

7shifts, a mobile- and web-based restaurant scheduling company based in Saskatoon, has recently established a two-person sales team in Toronto — the company’s latest move in an effort to compete with industry leader, Austin-based HotSchedules.

In addition to the expansion into Toronto, which has the density of restaurants 7shifts requires for business development, CEO Jordan Boesch is bulking out his company’s Saskatoon development team to speed up integration of 7shifts with partner platforms including TouchBistro, an iPad-based point-of-sale solution for restaurants. Boesch is using the remainder of a round of angel investment 7shifts received in 2014 to add five more developers to the team, bringing the total to 14.

“We’re slowly nipping at [HotSchedules’] heels, and getting some good traction,” Boesch said in an interview. “Stuff we’re missing to become the greatest [restaurant scheduling platform] is in development right now, especially around reporting.”

‘Looking For Apps’

The growth of 7shifts, as it competes in the sector, reflects the economic benefit at the intersection of cloud-based connectivity and demographic change. Millennials are stepping into management positions in the food and beverage sector, and “they’re looking for apps,” Boesch said. Although tiny now, 7shifts might become a significant employer for Saskatoon and Toronto if the company gets out in front of HotSchedules.

Boesch is in talks with potential investors, seeking additional capital to improve the platform. Meanwhile, 7shifts continues to bring on additional customers, about 90% of which are in the U.S. The company recently signed 90 Burger King locations in Alabama, which would bring in revenues from US$2,250 to US$6,300 per month, depending on the level of service selected.

In an increasingly cautious funding atmosphere, where analysts are writing down the values of Netflix and Hootsuite for stressing user growth over revenues, 7shifts’ conservation of seed capital while taking on paying clients will be crucial in helping the company secure additional funding.

“Founders are realizing the need to rethink prior assumptions about prioritizing growth above all else, and are increasingly focusing on burn rate, profitability and the path toward self-sufficiency,” First Round Capital said in a letter to its partners in February.

“We’ve managed to hit good revenue targets, so we’re not burning a ton of cash, which puts us in a good place for raising more capital,” Boesch said.

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