MURTEC’s Start-Up Alley Takes Flight

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MURTEC’s Start-Up Alley Takes Flight

By Angela Diffly, Co-Founder, RTN - 05/15/2020

Restaurant technology start-up companies got their chance to shine at MURTEC’s first-ever Start-Up Alley, executed by the Restaurant Technology Network (RTN) and sponsored by Comcast Business

RTN’s Start-Up Alley Lineup consisted of 15 fierce competitors and covered restaurant tech topics like smart ordering, AI-enabled loyalty, voice and predictive analytics, private event engagement, guest and chat platforms, smart tech procurement, tip distribution, TV commercial interruption and replacement, hand hygiene and consumer digital engagement. 

How Start-Up Alley Works
Our panel of judges included Astrid Isaacs, VP of Technology, Bloomin’ Brands; Susan Lucas, SVP of Technology, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants; and John Robinson, Director of Retail Technology, Sonic Drive-In. The contestants were judged on Level of Innovation, Practical Application, Ease of Implementation, Lifecycle and Wildcard (judges’ discretionary points). The judges narrowed the field to the top three, who then pitched live on stage where real-time audience votes determined the winner.  

Joining me on stage to introduce the live pitch session were Madura Wijewardena, Managing Director, Comcast Ventures and Ray Hatch, VP and Business Enterprise Solutions, Comcast Business. “We are always looking at the disruption going on in the restaurant space,” commented Wijewardena. “First, these start-ups look at what restaurants need, but in a new way. The entrepreneurs themselves are filled with optimism and a can-do spirit. That was really striking, and these are the two things we look for when investing.”

And The Winner Is...
After hearing all three pitches, the audience voted, and the winner was PathSpot, a real-time hand hygiene management solution. Co-Founder & CEO Christine Schindler was very impressive, and the hand hygiene solution could not have been more timely. “As more customers and employees have learned how illnesses, such as coronavirus, are transmitted, it’s inspiring to see restaurants step-up and emphasize their commitment to safety,” commented Schindler.

According to PathSpot, there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year, and 97% of Americans do not wash their hands properly. Installed in restaurants, packaging facilities, farms and cafeterias, PathSpot is helping companies implement safety protocols to ensure frequent and effective handwashing. The company is tap-ping data from scanning millions of hands to build infographics on handwashing practices. 

Impressive Runners-Up

Start-Up Alley runner-up Voltonix is an AI-based predictive analytics platform that helps track utilization of critical assets. Its primary market is the clinical diagnostic space, and its solution is deployed in some of the biggest diagnostic labs in the country. “COVID-19 changed the landscape for so many industries, almost over-night,” commented Ken O’Connell, VP of Business Development, Voltonix. “We’re working hard to help clinical diagnostic manufacturers and labs keep critical assets online and performing tests.”

Start-Up Alley runner-up Bbot is a smart ordering platform allowing customers to order and pay on their own devices. CEO Steven Simoni told us they’re offering two months free direct delivery through its partner SevenRooms. “We believe restaurants are going to bounce back and be more innovative than ever,” Simoni said. 

Photo (left to right): Steven Simoni, CEO, Bbot; Ray Hatch, VP and Business Enterprise Solutions; Christine Schindler, Co-Founder & CEO, PathSpot; Ken O’Connell, VP of Business Development, Voltonix; Madura Wijewardena, Managing Director, Comcast Ventur