Hungry consumers in most major cities have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to online food ordering and delivery platforms.
DoorDash, Uber Eats, ChowNow, Toast, Postmates, Zifty, and countless other companies have sprung up to streamline how customers get food. But on the restaurant side, this has created what a group of Atlanta entrepreneurs call “tablet hell.”
“Consumers are scattered across [platforms]. And so restaurants are working with three, four, five or more different online ordering apps to try and maximize their exposure,” Stephen Gladney tells Hypepotamus. “And with each one of those partners, they’re given a tablet with an app on it to receive the orders…and the front of house staff is playing whac-a-mole trying to get these orders in. This new problem of software complexity didn’t exist two years ago.”
Gladney and Justin Barber, a software architect, started working on this restaurant ordering problem in 2019 after witnessing “tablet hell” firsthand at a local Farm Burger location.
The resulting startup, OrderNerd, integrates third party delivery platforms into one convenient system for restaurant workers to use. This is particularly important as workers traditionally have had to navigate discounting, customized orders, and other ordering particularities across multiple platforms.
Importantly, the technology doesn’t change how the workflow for the delivery drivers and the end customer still orders through their third party delivery app of choice.
OrderNerd got its first paying customer at the end of December 2019 but it remained a side hustle throughout 2020. Gladney says that while most restaurants already had some sort of delivery service prior to COVID, the pandemic increased order volume and helped spotlight the importance of OrderNerd’s integration technology.
Keeping OrderNerd a side hustle early also helped the team navigate the uncertain RestaurantTech scene during the pandemic. “We made a decision to just completely stop charging our merchants,” adds Gladney. “We said, pay your staff, that is far more important. We have day jobs, we’ll be fine. And we focused on the product for three months.”
But as they gained traction and grew their customer base over the last year and a half, the tech community took notice. “VCs began reaching out, strategic investors began reaching, and even national chains,” says Gladney. “All of these signals came all at the same time.”
Gladney started working on OrderNerd full-time this April, quickly adding software engineer Marco Dell’Olio to round out the founding team.
Atlanta Startup Roots
In a sign of strength for Atlanta’s tech startup scene, Gladney, Barber, and Dell’Olio all have unicorn SaaS automation company SalesLoft on their resume and have worked across other local tech darlings like Calendly and ScoutMob.
“I’ve always known a lot of people in the startup community in Atlanta. It’s cool to have connections, but the level of support they offered when I became a founder…giving resources, introductions, and people willing to invest time and money…just the amount of true, solid support that we’ve gotten has blown me away,” adds Gladney. “I didn’t realize the value of the relationships that I was making over the past few years. Now, I get to use that capital.”
The team is diving even deeper into the local tech scene as current participants in Techstars Atlanta’s 2021 cohort.
OrderNerd’s technology can be seen at Atlanta restaurant staples like Gusto, NaanStop, and Varuni Napoli. It has also expanded into Miami, Austin, Texas, and Chicago.
OrderNerd joins a growing pool of RestaurantTech startups in the city (which isn’t surprising given Atlanta’s ‘foodie’ nature). Startups like Sunday, Skipli, and Popmenu are all tackling different problems the food service and restaurant industries currently face.