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Conversation
Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Tim McLaughlin, CEO and Co-Founder of GoTab, a restaurant commerce platform that focuses on guest experience, operational efficiency, and logistics. The company has raised $26 million in funding to revolutionize the way restaurants leverage technology.

Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Tim’s diverse background as a mechanical engineer, software developer, and serial entrepreneur, having started seven companies, including two breweries co-founded with his wife.
  • The lessons learned from previous ventures, such as the importance of staying focused, not getting distracted by shiny objects, and the challenges of running multiple companies simultaneously.
  • The inspiration drawn from early-stage innovators like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, as well as the influence of books like “Four Steps to Epiphany” on product development and staying close to customers.
  • GoTab’s origin story, rooted in Tim’s frustration with the broken, proprietary, and hardware-locked restaurant technology landscape, and his desire to create a solution that enhances the guest experience and operational efficiency.
  • The company’s focus on commerce, operations, and logistics, going deep in areas where other restaurant technologies fall short, while partnering with best-of-breed solutions for complementary functions.

Actionable
Takeaways

Identify and Solve the Unsexy Problems:

While many restaurant technologies focus on flashy features or try to do everything, GoTab recognized the critical importance of back-of-house operations and logistics. By tackling unglamorous but essential challenges like kitchen management and order fulfillment, the company has helped its clients achieve significant labor cost savings and improved profitability.

Prioritize Product-Market Fit Over Vanity Metrics:

Rather than chasing the highest number of restaurant locations, GoTab focuses on the size, scale, volume, and profitability of its clients. By targeting high-volume establishments and delivering measurable value, the company has achieved strong retention and growth, even if it means having fewer but more impactful partnerships.

Embrace Cultural Shifts and Adapt Accordingly:

When GoTab first introduced QR code ordering in 2018, it faced resistance from restaurant operators who were attached to traditional service models. However, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of contactless technology and forced the industry to prioritize efficiency, validating GoTab's vision and positioning the company for rapid growth.

Look Beyond the Status Quo and Work Backwards:

Tim and his team strive to envision how restaurants should operate ten years into the future, then work backwards to adapt those concepts to current realities. While this forward-thinking approach may not always align with industry norms, it allows GoTab to push boundaries and introduce innovative solutions that redefine the dining experience.

Aim for Invisible, Magical Technology:

GoTab's ultimate goal is to make payments and transactions disappear, creating a seamless, frictionless experience for guests and staff alike. By leveraging customer identity, membership status, and contextual data, the company seeks to streamline ordering, fulfillment, and payment processes, allowing people to focus on the social and culinary aspects of dining out.

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