Home Feature Atlanta Ventures Backs Startup Bringing “Starbucks App-Like Experience” To Local Restaurants

Atlanta Ventures Backs Startup Bringing “Starbucks App-Like Experience” To Local Restaurants

by Maija Ehlinger

“Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A, and Panera all have great app experiences. We want to bring that to our local restaurant customers,” Dick Sikes, founder and CEO of Hazlnut told Hypepotamus.

For Sikes and his Jacksonville-based team, that means building out white-labeled online ordering pages and mobile apps for local restaurants. Many of those may have multiple locations, but don’t have the budget to have an in-house development team. 

Restaurants use Hazlnut to engage with clients and build out in-app loyalty programs, send push notifications, or create a stronger digital marketing campaign. This eliminates the need for a restaurant owner-operator to work individually with marketing agencies, app developers, online ordering providers, and teams managing a specific loyalty program. 

COVID, of course, brought in a new crop of customers as restaurants navigated physical space restraints, increased online ordering, and an industry-wide labor shortage.

The Hazlnut team also sees their solution as a unique way to create better customer experiences beyond what is available through third-party ordering apps (while also decreasing platform fees restaurant owners have to pay).

“Traditionally, restaurants have to refer customers to Grub Hub or Uber Eats. Those customers might open the app intending to order from them and then they get distracted when they see a barbecue place or a pizza place down the road,” added Sikes.  

The team told Hypepotamus they are on track to do $1 million ARR this year. Building on that momentum, Hazlnut just cemented a $3 million Series A led by Atlanta Ventures. Jacksonville-based PS27 Ventures, which also backed Hazlnut’s seed round in 2018, also joined the round.

“​​When Hazlnut and Atlanta Ventures crossed paths, we immediately knew they were a team who obsesses over the customer, solves their gravest problems, and provides a preeminent user experience. What started as a simple survey tool back in 2016, iterated into a comprehensive mobile solution for franchises,” Atlanta Ventures posted regarding the investment. “Our excitement and optimism after partnering with Hazlnut is high, now it is time to add to the talented team and serve a much needed market!” 

While the team is currently at eight full-time employees, the funding will help Hazlnut integrate with other POS systems while expanding its engineering, sales, and marketing staff.



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