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08/02/2021

Drive-Thru Voice Tool Raises $15M

Already deployed with restaurant brands including Fazoli's, ConverseNow is shown to increase average orders by 23% and revenues by 20% while adding up to 12 hours of extra deployable labor time per store per week.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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ConverseNow, a voice-based AI technology for restaurants, has closed a $15 million Series A round led by Craft Ventures.

ConverseNow transforms how quick-service restaurants serve customers with George and Becky, AI voice ordering assistants that help optimize the deployment of staff and improve the speed and accuracy of orders. Its cloud-based, multilingual solution personalizes restaurant orders in high-volume voice channels such as drive-thru, self-service kiosks, phone and voice-assisted chat on mobile devices.

ConverseNow will rapidly scale and develop other drive-thru solutions such as “digital line-busting” technology, which will roll out later this year.

Demand for Drive-Thru

ConverseNow's focus on streamlining the drive-thru experience comes as drive-thru visits have increased 36% since the early days of the pandemic with 9 out of 10 visiting in May 2021, according to the State of What Feeds Us report.

Drive-thrus, according to market research firm The NPD Group, are the key to the industry's future. Consumer demand for drive-thru has spurred brands to revisit their store development plans, adding drive-thrus and contactless pickup options to their new designs including Dog Haus' updated prototype and Freddy's Frozen Custard new prototype that skips the dining room.

Already deployed with multinational and national restaurant brands, ConverseNow is shown to increase average orders by 23% and revenues by 20% while adding up to 12 hours of extra deployable labor time per store per week. By allowing human time to be shifted from order-taking to food preparation and high-value guest interaction, George and Becky measurably improve the entire customer experience.

Fazoli's, one of HT's Industry Hero Award winners, has been an early adopter of ConverseNow. Wayne Pederson, CIO of Fazoli’s Restaurant Management, LLC, adds, “During the pandemic, Fazoli’s continued to serve guests while investing in technologies and infrastructure to fuel growth during the recovery. AI is an integral part of our ongoing strategy, and with ConverseNow, we have found a best-in-class partner. Their solutions allow our operators to better utilize the talents of their teams, thereby enhancing our guests' overall experience and ultimately improving revenue.”

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Smart voice assistants

Equipped with conversational and emotional intelligence, George and Becky replicate natural human dialog to gauge customer sentiment and guide conversations.

Leveraging anonymized machine intelligence, George and Becky can:

  • Detect nuances and predict ordering behaviors based on tailored questions and responses.
  • Save time, streamline the customer experience, and maximize revenues, by making recommendations based on contextual data and information available to them in real-time.
  • Assess variables such as past order history, the probability of upsells being approved, time of day, weather conditions, and even how busy the restaurant is – in some cases recommending items with shorter prep times during peak hours.
  • Tailor their personalities and voices can be tailored to the individual brand or restaurant chain.

The round included participation from investors in the company’s $3.3 million seed round (May 2020), including LiveOak Venture Partners, Tensility Venture Partners, Knoll Ventures, Bala Investments, 2048 Ventures, and Bridge Investments. Moneta Ventures and angel investors Federico Castellucci and Ashish Gupta also participated, bringing the total funding to $18.3 million.

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