The India unit of UK-based Compass Group, which claims to be the world’s largest contract food service company, has acquired a majority stake in Bengaluru-based foodtech startup SmartQ. Founded in 2014, SmartQ provides digital services for cafeteria management, corporate gifting and more.
The acquisition will enable Compass India to develop and deploy similar solutions across its client base, as part of the company’s “return to work” strategy for business growth.
Founded by Krishna Wage, Hardhik Sheth, Keshav Meda and Abhishek Ashok, SmartQ provides services such as centralised billing system for cafeterias and canteens, contactless prepaid cards, point-of-sale software and automated billing kiosks. It works towards enhancing cafeteria and food-court experiences by eliminating queues and minimising wait time for customers or employees.
As employees return to work, Compass India will utilise SmartQ’s technology offerings such as the mobile app for food ordering at the workplace, self-ordering kiosks, cashier-less cafeteria and PoS solutions as well as the cloud-controlled menu display systems at workplaces.
The company has started deploying these solutions and will soon be rolling it out in Compass Group’s client base in the UK, India, and New Zealand with plans to add USA, Japan, and Singapore by end of this year.
“The workforce in India today is increasingly made up of people who have either grown up or are deeply accustomed to personal technology. They are our core consumers and are driving a change in the way we operate contract food services to meet their needs. We want to be at the forefront of this change, continually leading innovation and reinventing our service and experience model,” said Dev Amritesh, managing director for Compass Group India.
Tech solutions that deliver seamless, enhanced experiences like menu discovery, pre-ordering, payment and post-order support have become an increasingly important part of the food experience at work, he added.
SmartQ last announced a $1-million fundraise from a consortium of Dubai-based investors in 2018. Existing investor YourNest participated in the round as well. IN 2018, SmartQ had acquired Nexus Venture Partners-backed Goodbox’s cafeteria business for an undisclosed amount.
SmartQ competes with the likes of HungerBox and Sodexo. HungerBox has investment from Paytm and investors such as Sabre Partners and Neoplux. It raised $12 million in December.