Tech Pitch: Velocity

The young founders of the restaurant payment app discuss targeting millenials and securing one of the UK's largest Series A funding rounds...

Company name: Velocity
Founders: Alex Macdonald (28) and Zia Yusuf (28)
Background: Macdonald: CEO at privately owned industrial group AIAC, Yusuf: Executive director at Goldman Sachs.
Based in: Mayfair, London and Soho, New York

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Velocity is the lifestyle app empowering diners to reserve, pay and earn rewards directly from their phone.
  • It makes dining out more personal and efficient for both the customer and restaurant, by eliminating time spent waiting for the bill, allowing staff to spend more time with customers, increasing footfall, increasing loyalty and providing venues with rich insights into customer preferences and feedback.
  • Velocity is increasing spend per head for its restaurant partners by up to 14% and thanks to seamless integration with existing restaurant Point of Sales (POS) systems, it’s free and quick to install.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Velocity was founded by us in 2014. Having experienced first-hand the consumer frustrations of paying in restaurants, we saw a unique opportunity for the hospitality industry, which until now had been slow to adapt to the “Uberization” of affluent millennials who increasingly expect access and services via their mobile.

Are you funded?

We recently secured £7.6m Series A financing to accelerate international expansion – said to be one of the largest ever Series A funding rounds for a UK-based company. Investors include an international group of angels including former Thomson-Reuters CEO and chair of Morgan Stanley’s Technology Committee, Tom Glocer, and Initial Capital partner, Shukri Shammas.

What were you doing before starting?

We’ve known each other for a long time, growing up as childhood friends. From the age of 23, Macdonald managed the acquisition, optimisation and growth of multinational manufacturing companies, ranging in size from $50m to $200m in sales. Macdonald also has front-line experience managing restaurants and bars in France and is passionate about creating the perfect dining experience.

As a key member of the equities business at Goldman Sachs, Yusuf became accustomed to the ingredients that make great businesses. Yusuf continues to champion the use of technology to build enduring human relationships, provide outstanding customer experiences, and create innovative technology that will increase businesses’ bottom line. Yusuf is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

London’s West End and New York’s Soho are both at the epicentre of some of the respective country’s finest restaurants, bars and clubs. It was important for us to set up our offices surrounded by venues at the top of their game, as we welcomed the early adopters to the Velocity app.

Being a short walking distance away from a large number of these venues has been integral for all areas of the business; the account management team is on hand every step of the way in venue to on-board new customers, the development team can co-create their product road map with insights from the end users, and marketing have the best environment to run market analysis and create meaningful content. We are inherently an office full of foodies, and so positioning ourselves in these two locations seemed the obvious choice.

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