Jacksonville Startup Hazlnut Raises $3 Million in Series A to Accelerate Growth

Hazlnut, a SaaS company that provides restaurants with their own branded apps and online ordering platforms, announced today that it has raised $3 million in a Series A funding round. Atlanta Ventures led the investment, along with PS27 Ventures Rhea Fund.

Jon Birdsong, a partner at Atlanta Ventures, said Hazlnut was the right company to invest in because, as soon as they crossed paths, “[Atlanta Ventures] immediately knew they were a team who obsesses over the customer, solves their gravest problems, and provides a preeminent user experience.”

Hazlnut is on a mission to help local, independent, and regional restaurant brands thrive. They do so by providing a software template for web-based, app, and in-store ordering solutions. The cost of hiring web and app developers is a greater investment than most restaurant owners can afford. Hazlnut offers development, onboarding and on-going support at an affordable monthly rate. 

The restaurant industry has proven to be tougher than ever for smaller brands thanks to the increasing competition, the rise of third party delivery providers who take a large chunk of every sale, and the overall complexity of managing multiple technology solutions. With Hazlnut, your local favorites can offer online and mobile ordering solutions, a full scale loyalty program, and Panera-like kiosks for guests who want an interactive menu with high resolution images and robust descriptions. 

“With software, if you can envision it, you can build it. We come in and help lift up small businesses to help them compete with bigger brands like Panera and McDonald’s. It’s rewarding seeing local businesses rise to the competition,” said Dick Sikes, Co-Founder and CEO of Hazlnut.

The company had previously closed a seed round funded by PS27 Ventures in 2018 of  less than $200,000. Jim Stallings, CEO of PS27 Ventures, is excited to see Hazlnut grow exponentially.

With this funding, Hazlnut is not wasting any time to grow aggressively. They are looking to fill key roles such as Head of Software Engineering, Sales Director, and Director of Marketing, as well as growing their sales, service, and engineering teams. 

About Hazlnut

Hazlnut is an all-in-one ordering solution that helps companies develop deeper relationships with their customers through beautifully designed websites and custom branded apps.

If you know a restaurant owner who is in need of an online ordering and loyalty solution, let us know! 

About Atlanta Ventures

Atlanta Ventures empowers entrepreneurs to start, grow, and scale.

Create Companies / We co-found companies via the Studio with driven founders in a collaborative environment

Fund Founders / We partner with companies seeking early stage funding

Equip Entrepreneurs / We provide content, tools, and events to empower the startup community

About PS27 Ventures

PS27 Ventures invests in early-stage companies that are driving dramatic changes in high-growth markets. ​​We invest in early stage startup ideas and businesses, supporting their growth with a broad range of expertise from a team of highly regarded professionals. Bringing selected startups into our accelerator, we work side by side with them to grow their business and help them realize their true potential. 

Our team of experts takes a hands-on approach, helping startups succeed. 

About the Rhea Fund

The PS27 Rhea Fund is a 20 million dollar venture capital fund focused on early-stage technology companies. Rhea Fund is seeking to invest in early-stage solutions in SaaS, HealthTech, FinTech, Sustainability, and E-Commerce companies that can scale rapidly. Rhea Fund also has an interest in founders who are women, veterans, and people of color.  

For more information about the Rhea Fund please email us at info@ps27ventures.com.

How Hazlnut can help with catering

After more than a year of video-chat holidays, business meetings with pets on-screen, and virtual schooling, the country is returning to some level of normalcy. Businesses are re-opening, group limits are being lifted, traveling is resuming, and, best of all, we can spend time with loved ones face to face. There is a year’s worth of events to make up for, and these events need to be catered. Hazlnut already has a way to allow customers to order catering. It is built right into our existing service, and everything we are about to go over is included in current Hazlnut subscriptions at no additional cost to our partners.

Features in Hazlnut Catering

We have packed our catering option with the features already available in all Hazlnut products. This includes orders printing on the restaurants printers and being processed by the restaurant’s existing service. Any customer on their favorite restaurant’s app can easily order catering using the methods they are used to, no need to learn something new! The biggest changes are how the restaurant sets up the item in the Hazlnut Dashboard. Using the availability setting on an item the restaurant can set how many days notice they need for the item. Once set up a catering button will appear on the location within the app. A new link will be provided to post online for web based ordering.

Setting up the catering menu

Our partners can find all the tools needed to set up their catering menu in the Hazlnut dashboard. A helpful FAQ detailing step-by-step instructions on how to set it up can be found here. Just like our other services, the items will need to be added to the Clover inventory first. Once the items are made, it is time to arrange them using the Hazlnut dashboard. The Hazlnut dashboard is accessible from a computer; it can also be accessed using a Clover station on the Hazlnut app (only on Clover stations 2018 or newer).

For new and existing partners wanting to learn more, reach out to sales@hazlnut.com to set up a demo.

How Does Clover’s Online Ordering Compare to Hazlnut?

When choosing an online ordering service, it’s essential to do a lot of research and make sure you’re going with the right provider. This series offers a fair and honest look at how Hazlnut compares to other leading online ordering systems. In this installment, we’re taking a look at Clover’s built-in online ordering solution.

At their roots, these platforms have some similarities. They both allow customers to browse the menu and place orders, they both operate without any commission fees, and they both use the existing items in your Clover to build the menu. Both platforms operate as an external link that can be posted on your website, which allows you to use them regardless of the website provider you use.

Let’s look at both platforms’ pros and cons and discuss the best fit for your business.

Clover Online Ordering

Pros:

Free: Easily the strongest selling point for Clover’s online ordering is the price point. You can’t beat free and having an option like this available during the pandemic has saved many businesses from going under. Clover’s Google integrated partner, The Ordering.app, charges a 1.5% fee per transaction and allows customers to access the menu through a button on Google.

Quick set up: For those looking to get something in place as soon as possible, Clover’s solution can be set up in as little as 10 minutes. Clover copies over your existing inventory and then allows you to make changes from the pre-built menu.

No commitments: As easily as you can get Clover’s ordering set up, you can cancel the service. This makes it a good starting point and something that you can upgrade from at any time.

Manage from existing Clover Dashboard: Because this service is available directly from Clover, it’s all managed from the same Clover Dashboard where you currently make inventory changes.

Cons:

Not branded: Clover’s platform is very clearly a Clover product and does not allow for a company’s logos or colors to be used on the page. While this allows them to keep costs down, it can be off-putting to customers who may feel like they’re ordering from a third-party as opposed to directly from the business.

Lack of features: The old adage “You get what you pay for” rings true here. Clover’s system is very basic. There are no bells and whistles, lacking in areas like upselling, dynamic prep time, cash payments, modifier customization. It does what it’s supposed to: Take orders and accept payments.  But unfortunately, not much else.

Manual editing: The set-up is quick and matches Clover directly, but then it’s up to you to make changes as you go. In most situations, a Clover’s inventory contains shorthand names or modifier groups that are designed to make things easier on the staff, but these aren’t always ideal for online ordering. This can cause some headaches in the set-up process, and Clover’s general support line tends to be an unreliable source for problem-solving.

Lack of personalized support: This is one of the biggest differences between these two services. While Hazlnut provides you with a personal onboarding rep and a support line that gets you directly to an expert, Clover requires you to go through their general support line, which tends to be very unreliable.

Limited to one printer: Despite being a service directly from Clover, this online ordering system limits you to using only 1 printer for all online orders. This can be a pain in the event that a business has multiple stations and printers and creates a disconnect between online orders and standard, in-store transactions.

No pictures: Pictures are extremely important whenever someone shops online, but especially so with food ordering. Not being able to add pictures can hurt customer engagement and can result in a lower average ticket size. According to DoorDash, menus with pictures receive 25% more orders.

Hazlnut Online Ordering

Pros:

Branded: One of the biggest selling points for Hazlnut is that it’s a completely branded solution. We use your logos, colors, and fonts to make the page look and feel like you built it yourself. This adds a personal touch to the order process and allows you brand to be represented well every time an order is placed.

Food pictures: Hazlnut allows you to add food pictures for every item and category, which can really help customers to engage with the menu more and can even increase ticket size by 30%.

Customizable: While Hazlnut’s system uses the existing items and modifiers in Clover, it’s not limited to how these things are display on Clover. From pictures, descriptions, and modifiers to the display order and categories items are displayed in, Hazlnut allows for nearly unlimited menu customization.

1-on-1 support and hands-off set-up: After signing up with Hazlnut, you’re assigned an onboarding specialist to work with throughout the entire set-up process. Based on the information you provide, that specialist will help set up the menu for you, and adjust it based on any feedback you give. That same person will be a direct contact for you in the future if you run into any issues.

Custom printer set-up: In direct contrast to Clover Online Ordering’s printer limitations, Hazlnut allows you to utilize any printers you have and can even set things up to mirror exactly what you’re using in-store, blurring the lines between these different order types and making these transactions feel like the normal in-store transactions that the staff is used to.

Dynamic upselling: Hazlnut has the ability to offer customers an item at the end of each transaction. It’s called “dynamic” because the item that gets offered can change based on what’s in the customers cart. This allows you to pair items that go well together and avoid offering a customer something they already have in their cart.

Cons:

Price: Hazlnut isn’t the cheapest option out there (starting at $89 a month), and it definitely can’t compete with Clover’s pricing (free). It’s much more so a premium option and if you’re looking for a short-term bare-bones solution, it might not be right for you.

Longer set-up time: Because Hazlnut’s product is more customized and we do the set-up for you, this obviously takes longer than the 10-minute set-up that Clover’s ordering boasts. Assuming you’re able to get your brand assets to us pretty quickly, we’ll have the ordering page up and running within two weeks, or sometimes sooner, depending on the complexity of your menu.

Conclusion

Both of these solutions have a place in the market, but cater to different groups of people:

Clover’s online ordering is best suited for the extremely cost-sensitive. If you’re in a really tough financial situation and just need a quick fix to survive as a business, this is the solution for you. It’s not flashy or feature-rich, but it could be just what you need to get through a tough season, like we’ve all just experienced in 2020.

Hazlnut’s online ordering is a premium solution best suited for growing brands looking for a customized solution that they’ll never have to upgrade from. The price point is very competitive compared to others in the market. Upgrading to Hazlnut’s All-in package also includes an app and loyalty program, so it can become the all-in-one solution your brand is looking for.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hazlnut and seeing if it’s a good fit for you, schedule a demo today!