It’s been a huge week for Mr Yum CEO Kim Teo. On the same day the mobile payments company announced it had raised $89million in a second funding round, she landed in Melbourne after 10 months overseas.
“The three best words to describe how I’m feeling right now are proud, grateful and to be honest, relieved,” Teo said.
It’s the largest Australian Series A funding round for a female-led company, and the third-largest Series A in Australian history. The Series A follows Mr Yum’s $11million Post-Seed round in April 2021, bringing the total funding raised by the company to more than $100million.
Investors in the round, lead by Tiger Global, include Skip Capital (the private fund of Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and Kim Jackson), Tennis Australia’s Wildcard Ventures, Broadsheet founder Nick Shelton and Kogan founder Ruslan Kogan. Existing investors TEN13 and AirTree also followed-on in this round, making their largest investments to date into the company.
Other investors in Mr Yum include US-based Australian NBA star Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs and Grammy Award winning artists Rüfüs Du Sol.
Teo told Drinks Digest it was “humbling and exciting” to be a trailblazing female CEO in a space that has previously been dominated by men.
“There has never been a better time to be a female,” she said. “I wish it wasn’t newsworthy, but there’s still a disparity in participation and successful funding between gender. There is also a gap in talent across technical roles in startups. We want to encourage more females to join the industry, including engineers and founders. At Mr Yum we have an even gender split across the founders and near even across the leadership team. But there’s more to be done, we’ll keep chipping away at it!”
Mr Yum was founded in November 2018 by Teo and her “partner in life, business and in capital raising”, Adrian Osman. In just three years it has become a global-leading mobile ordering, payments and growth platform. More than just QR code ordering, it encompasses a suite of features for operators, including payments, loyalty, marketing and customer insights.
Teo said the funding round will accelerate the company’s global growth and help cement the post-pandemic recovery and trajectory of the hospitality and entertainment industries around the world.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the new partners that have joined our crusade. This round of capital allows us to triple down on our global lead on product innovation as we grow our teams across Australia, the UK and the US,” she said.
She admits it’s been a “wild ride” introducing a revolutionary new approach to menus.
“Menus hadn’t evolved in hundreds of years, consumers are visual and want to understand what they’re ordering, so Mr Yum was created with the simple idea of bringing menus to life with photos of every dish,” she said.
“We then expanded into allowing guests to order and pay on their phone by scanning a QR code, removing the administrative tasks in service like taking orders, processing payments and splitting bills. This frees up restaurant staff to create more magical guest experiences and deliver great hospitality, while increasing average order value by 20-40%. The platform has expanded well beyond ordering and payments – our goal is to build ‘the Shopify for restaurants’.”
Why Australia is at the forefront of restaurant technology
Mr Yum led the way with web-first mobile ordering and popularised QR codes in a Western dine-in context long before the pandemic ushered in the mainstream adoption of their use.
As a first-mover, Mr Yum has now become the category leader and has been adopted in all types of venues, including casinos, theatres, shopping centres, cinemas, cruise ships and airports as well as restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes.
“To our earliest group customers in Australian Venue Co and Funlab, we wouldn’t be here without you,” Teo said. “And to the 1,500+ restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, events and hospo groups that followed, thank you for choosing Mr Yum.”
The company has grown from 12 to more than 120 full-time staff in the past 18 months, with teams in Sydney, Brisbane, London, Los Angeles, the Philippines and the Melbourne headquarters. Mr Yum has more than 1500 venues using the platform globally along with 13 million users.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult time for many of our customers, but this industry has a way of staying positive and adapting in tough times,” Teo said.
“The pandemic has so drastically changed the mindset and adoption of technology for the hospitality and entertainment industries globally. And this isn’t a temporary shift – once venues see the magic of how technology can improve their business and guest experience, they never look back.
“I’ve had the privilege of being in many cities across the US and Europe this year and have learned how intrinsically similar the industries we serve are globally – we’ve never been more excited and bullish about building something as impactful and long-lasting as what Shopify has created in retail.”
AirTree partner James Cameron said it’s rare to see consumers adopt a new behaviour as quickly as they have with Mr Yum’s products.
“Their QR codes have now become ubiquitous in Australia, and it’s happened pretty much overnight,” he noted. “They’re now helping hospitality venues all over the country bounce back from a very tough period through COVID, and with this new funding they are able to double down on their international markets, where they are already growing faster than they were in Australia.”