African restaurant cloud operating system provider Orda announced today that it has raised a $3.4 million seed round to further digitize food businesses across the continent.
The seed round, which was co-led by Quona Capital and FinTech Collective, also saw participation from institutional investors including Far Out Ventures and Outside VC, angels Doneci Kone and Julian Shapiro, and follow-on investment from Norrsken Foundation, Lofty Inc Capital and Enza Capital. Following its previous raise of $1.1 million, the current round brings Orda’s total funds raised to $4.5 million.
Founded by Guy Futi, Fikayo Akinwale, Mark Edomwande, Kunle Ogungbamila, and Namir El-Khouri in 2020, Orda’s vision is to help small-sized African restaurants optimize their business and achieve sustainable growth.
Speaking on why they backed Orda, Samatha Wulfson of FinTech Collective said, “Digitizing the long tail of restaurants across the continent presents an opportunity to tap into Africa’s largest consumer spend category. Not only does Orda’s omnichannel solution produce immediate efficiency gains for restaurants, but a roadmap encompassing embedded payments and credit also creates a path to tap into the flow of funds throughout an enormous food and beverage industry.”
Building an operating system for small and medium-sized African restaurants
Since its first fundraising announcement in January, Orda has grown its customer base to more than 600 restaurants across Nigeria and Kenya and is now processing over 500% more weekly orders for its customers.
This growth, the company says, is due to an obsession with helping small and medium-sized restaurants run their businesses better.
Small independent restaurants are the soul of Africa’s food service industry, representing the largest segment of the $50 billion industry. However, these restaurants have had limited access to technology solutions tailored to their needs.
Speaking on Orda’s focus on small restaurants, Guy Futi, Orda’s CEO and co-founder said, “From day one, Orda has been focused on building solutions for small and medium-sized restaurants. These businesses operate with slim profit margins and the power of Orda’s software and financial solutions can catapult their business. Our goal is to provide end-to-end solutions that help them optimize their operations so they become more prosperous.”
Before Orda, managers at these small restaurants, who often double as cooks, spent as many as four hours a day doing manual reconciliation, inventory management, and other administrative tasks. Now, through its products, Orda is enabling many African restaurants to optimize their business operations and scale distribution. Its array of products and services includes kitchen display systems, order and inventory management, integrations with the leading food aggregators (e.g. Glovo, Bolt Food, Chowdeck, Jise, Wabi2b, etc), accounting software, microsites, mobile apps and—soon to come—lending.
Even better, when restaurants use these products, Orda provides them with advanced business analytics that informs them of customer behaviour, which in turn helps with inventory optimization and loss prevention.
Building solutions for African restaurants has required certain considerations specific to the region. For example, despite being a primarily cloud-based solution, Orda’s application works offline allowing restaurants to continue to log data even when internet access is unavailable — the data syncs with the cloud application when the restaurant is back online.
The cloud operating software has also been built to have maximum functionality even when there is spotty internet service.
Modupe Alimi, manager at Korede Spaghetti, a popular small restaurant with branches in Nigeria’s metropolises of Yaba and Surulere, commented on Orda improving the restaurant’s operational efficiency saying, “[Before], we couldn’t keep count [of inventory and orders] because we were not that organized. With Orda, we can now keep everything in an account. We know everything that goes out through [pick-up] orders and delivery. We don’t need to hire more employees than necessary and that has made us more profitable.”
This kind of impact is what led Quona Capital to invest in Orda, according to Kofoworola Agbaje, Senior Investment Associate at the VC firm. “When a restaurant owner moves from pen and paper to a fully automated digital platform, it’s incredibly empowering,” said Agbaje. “Suddenly they have insights available to them that can improve their productivity and margins, enabling them to grow their businesses. A solution like Orda can have an outsized impact on small and medium-sized restaurants and the livelihoods of those who operate them, and we at Quona are delighted to support Orda in this important work.”
Orda’s founders have also attributed the startup’s growth over the last 12 months to the excellent team it has put together, a trend it hopes to continue in the coming months. Within the last year, it has brought in Afua Ahwoi (ex-Chief of Staff at Cleo) as Head of Operations and Strategy, and Modesola Osasomi, (ex-assistant VP – Propositions Manager at Barclays Bank) to head growth.
Product-market fit and fundraising for expansion
Following the progress in the last 12 months, Orda believes it has hit product-market fit, evidenced by the rapid rate of adoption, rising referrals, and increasing ease of onboarding new restaurants. ”We have a huge backlog of restaurants to onboard and we’re confident of reaching 1,000 active restaurants within the next three months. Our vendors love our solution and we do a good job of listening to feedback and incorporating that into the new features we roll out. We do our very best to always center the restaurant’s experience at the heart of our operations,” said Afua Ahwoi, Head of Operations at Orda.
With the recently completed fundraise, Orda has vertical expansion in sight, as it looks to improve its payments, credit and lending solutions, helping customers unlock even more value from their businesses.
“Focusing solely on restaurants has given us deeper insights into how they are run and what their financial behavior is. We believe we can accurately predict when a restaurant needs a cash injection or a small loan and are looking to work with partners who can provide those services,” said Futi.