“We didn’t need the money, but I think it’s better to collect when you don’t need the money than when you do.”
Mr Birrell said the company had been able to raise “a decent round”, despite slowing technology investment, thanks to Fresho’s dominance in a market that had been slow to modernize its systems.
More than $1.2 billion is processed through the Fresho platform each year, replacing the emails, phone calls, texts or faxes chefs used to place orders with their suppliers.
Despite the hotel sector shutting down during the shutdowns, the business has continued to grow throughout the pandemic as restaurateurs and suppliers seek ways to make their operations more efficient.
“It almost created a shift in mentality,” Andronis said.
“It’s a very old and outdated industry and sites are looking for efficiencies, so they’ve become really open to embracing technology.”
The platform, which displays live prices, product availability and invoices, also helps restaurants manage costs at a time when inflation is driving up the price of certain ingredients.
“With the significant price increases we’re seeing, the days of a restaurant having a set menu for three months is a bit outdated,” he said. “They need to monitor their costs regularly.”
The software is used by over 38,000 catering establishments in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US, including prestigious restaurants such as Gimlet, Quay, Donovans, Coda and Rockpool.
Tonka and Coda owner and chef Adam D’Slyva said his chefs use the Fresho platform to plan their menus and it has “revolutionized” restaurant operations.
“Even late at night, they scour vendor lists for inspiration for new products,” he said.
“Our chefs have always sworn by the efficiency and simplicity of Fresho, but now they see how valuable real-time product availability and pricing is when it comes to maximizing our menu.”
The new capital injection will be used to hire more tech talent and grow Fresho’s footprint in the UK and US.
Predict the next kale
The business launched in Britain in February 2020 but put major growth plans on hold due to the pandemic, before relaunching there in May last year.
Fresho also has a small user base in California and plans to relaunch in the US later this year or early next year.
The company has also started analyzing data from the platform to help make the food supply chain more sustainable by reducing waste and helping producers identify trending foods.
“Some of the growers were saying if you could tell us what the next kale is, it’s worth millions of dollars,” Birrell said.
Fresho recently worked with Apple and Pear Australia, an association of fruit growers, to provide data on which varieties have increased or decreased consumption.
“The power of this data is extraordinary in that it has the ability to change growing decisions in the future,” Birrell said.