Parrot Software has $1.2 million to grow its restaurant point-of-sale and management service in Mexico

The two founders of Parrot Software, Roberto Cebrián and David Villarreal, first met in high school in Monterrey, Mexico. In the eleven years since , both have pursued successful careers in the tech industry and became family (they’re brothers-in-law).

Now, they’re starting a new business together leveraging Cebrián’s experience running a point-of-sale company and Villarreal’s time working first at Uber and then at the high-growth, scooter and bike rental startup, Grin.

Cebrían’s experience founding the point-of-sale company S3 Software laid the foundation for Parrot Software, and its point of sale service to manage restaurant operations. 

Roberto has been in the industry for the past six or seven years,” said Villarreal. “And he was telling me that no one has been serving [restaurants] properly… Roberto pitched me the idea and I got super involved and decided to start the company.”

Parrot Software co-founders Roberto Cebrían and David Villarreal. Image Credit: Parrot Software

Like Toast in the U.S., Parrot  manages payments including online and payments and real-time ordering, along with integrations into services that can manage the back-end operations of a restaurant too, according to Villarreal. Those services include things like delivery software, accounting and loyalty systems.  

The company is already live in over 500 restaurants in Mexico and is used by chains including Cinnabon, Dairy Queen, Grupo Costeño, and Grupo Pangea.

Based in Monterrey, Mexico, the company has managed to attract a slew of high profile North American investors including Joe Montana’s Liquid2 Ventures, Foundation Capital, Superhuman angel fund, Toby Spinoza, the vice president of DoorDash, and Ed Baker, a product lead at Uber.

Since its launch, the company has managed to land contracts in 10 cities, with the largest presence in Northeastern Mexico, around Monterrey, said Villarreal.

The market for restaurant management software is large and growing. It’s a big category that’s expected to reach $6.94 billion in sales worldwide by 2025, according to a reporter from Grand View Research.

Investors in the U.S. market certainly believe in the potential opportunity for a business like Toast. That company has raised nearly $1 billion in funding from firms like Bessemer Venture Partners, the private equity firm TPG, and Tiger Global Management.

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How D2C brands are holding up during the pandemic

A lot has happened during the COVID-19 lockdowns in terms of human behavior.

E-commerce seems to have grown at the same rate in the last two months as it did in the last seven years. PipeCandy has been analyzing the segments within e-commerce that stand to gain the most with this “once in a generation” change.

Image Credits: PipeCandy

One segment that has dominated the news and the M&A cycles within e-commerce is direct-to-consumer. The segment moved from being a disruptor of old-guard CPG companies to a channel strategy that every CPG company is now embracing. With lackluster IPOs of the likes of Casper, the closing of disruptor brands like Brandless and Walmart’s decision to not pursue D2C acquisitions, the era of hyper-funded digital natives is over.

So what’s up with digital natives now? How has COVID-19 played out for the segment?

Firstly, a comparison that some of you may not take very kindly. We are comparing actual retail sales from the U.S. Census Bureau with unique visitors from our sample of nearly 1,000 digital native brands. The directionality alone tells the story, even if we can’t compare the same metrics.

Image Credits: PipeCandy

What’s interesting about furniture is that people are buying storage units and shelves and tables for their home offices. Also, they are spending on mattresses. The rest of the furniture categories aren’t finding traction. That said, this observation is limited to D2C.

Now let’s see some D2C categories and their traffic growth trends over different slices of time.

Image Credits: PipeCandy

What you see above is a set of D2C category median growth rates of April 2020 compared to average growth rates in various time slices in 2019. We took April 2020 as the anchor month and compared against (1) the monthly average for every brand in the previous year and, (2) the month where they had the peak traffic.

The idea was to see not just whether these brands grew in April 2020 but also to see if they hit their peaks they hit in 2019. We have a few other cuts in our report (Q1 2019 versus Q1 2020, accounting for launch PR-linked peaks, etc.).

Fitness, pets and grocery registered healthy growth compared to 2019 averages, while the declines in furniture, apparel and kids have been minimal (when compared to the carnage we see in retail). But, when we see the data cut for peak 2019 versus April 2020, we see fitness and pets as categories have been resilient. We are still not back to the glory days of D2C in several other categories. Several categories and companies have been having a second lease of life. So what seems like a jaded performance when compared to the peak of 2019 is actually good news for several brands. They’d have been counted out but for COVID-19.

One way to truly size up the impact of COVID-19 is to look at the traffic numbers of these brands in 2019 and project the trends for 2020 assuming it would be a normal world from the vantage point of December 2019 and compare them with how things actually panned out between January and April 2020. We did consider and account for blips in numbers due to launch/PR activities in our forecasting model. The more positive the deviation is of the actual from the forecast, the better the category is doing.

I can only hypothesize that a certain virus caused the change in the trajectory.

Without, further ado, here is what we found:

Image Credits: PipeCandy

Kids, cookware and kitchen tools, apparel, fine jewelry, fashion, women’s health, mattresses, furniture and skincare actually deviated negatively from the forecast. This is not to say that these categories declined. We are actually saying that these categories didn’t keep up with the growth trends they orchestrated in 2019. That said, the devil is in the details. For instance, within furniture, there is a category of D2C brands that sell shelves and office furniture. Consumers did invest in them heavily, presumably to allow participants in the Zoom call to absorb more the titles of the books stacked in those shelves than from the calls themselves.

Wine/spirits, grocery, fitness, baby care, pets and nutraceuticals did better than anticipated. Basically, anything that helped numb the reality (alcohol), sweeten the reality (food), distract from the reality (baby care and pets), survive the reality (fitness) or hallucinate an alternative reality (nutraceuticals) did well.

A summary of our findings (free) and a detailed report on the impact of COVID-19 on direct-to-consumer brands (behind paywall) can be found on PipeCandy’s website.

I will leave you with another interesting conclusion we arrived at, through further research that is currently underway: The spotlight category in e-commerce is not direct to consumer — it is the mid-market and large pure-play e-commerce companies. It is one segment where the compounded quarterly growth rate of active companies is better than the 2019 average.

We will have more to share in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

#column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #d2c, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #retailers, #tc, #trade


DHL acquires stake in Link Commerce developed by MallforAfrica

DHL has acquired a minority stake in Link Commerce, a turn-key e-commerce company that grew out of — a Nigerian digital-retail startup.

Link Commerce offers a white-label solution for doing digital-sales in emerging markets.

Retailers can plug into the company’s e-commerce platform to create a web-based storefront that manages payments and logistics.

With the investment one of the world’s largest delivery services looks to build a broader client-base globally using a business built in Africa.

DHL is trying to get their hands more into global e-commerce…across the world and they figured our platform was a good way to do it,” Link Commerce CEO Chris Folayan told TechCrunch.

Folayan originally founded MallforAfrica, which paved the way for Link Commerce. DHL’s investment in the company —  the amount of which is undisclosed — has roots in collaboration with Folayan’s original startup.

MallforAfrica began a partnership with DHL in 2015 and launched DHL Africa eShop in 2019. The sales platform is powered by Link Commerce and has brought more than 200 U.S. and U.K. sellers — from Neiman Marcus to Carters — online to African consumers in 34 countries.


Image Credits: DHL

Similar to MallforAfrica’s model, Africa eShop allows users to purchase goods directly from the websites of any of the app’s partners.

For the global retailers selling on Africa eShop, the hurdles that held back distribution on the continent — payments, currency risk, logistics — are handled by the underlying Link Commerce operating platform.

“That’s what our service does. It takes care of that whole ecosystem to enable global e-commerce to exist, no matter what country you’re in,” Folayan told TechCrunch in 2019.

Link Commerce was built out of Folayan’s startup, which he founded in 2011 after studying and working in the U.S.

A common practice among Africans — that of giving lists of goods to family members abroad to buy and bring home — highlighted a gap between supply and demand for the continent’s consumer markets.

With MallforAfrica Folayan aimed to close that gap by allowing people on the continent to purchase goods from global retailers directly online.

MallforAfrica and Link Commerce founder Chris Folayan, Image Credits: MallforAfrica

The e-commerce site went on to onboard over 250 global retailers and now employs 30 people at order processing facilities in Oregon and the UK.

MallforAfrica’s Africa eShop expansion put it on a footing to compete with Pan African e-commerce leader Jumia — which went public on the NYSE in 2019 — and China’s Alibaba, anticipated to enter online retail on the continent at some point.

The Link Commerce, DHL deal won’t change that, but Folayan has shifted the hirearchy of his businesses to make Link Commerce the lead operation and Africa one market of many.

Image Credits: Link Commerce

“We changed the structure. So now Link Commerce is above MallforAfrica and MallforAfrica is now powered by Link Commerce,” Folayan explained on a recent call.

“Right now the focus is on Africa…but we’re taking this global,” he added.

Folayan and DHL plan to extend the platform to emerging markets around the world, where other companies may look to grow by wrapping an online store, payments, and logistics solution around their core business.

That could include any large entity that wants to launch an international e-commerce site, according to Folayan.

“Link Commerce is focused on banks, mobile companies, shipping companies and partnering with them to expand globally,” he said.

That’s a big leap from Folayan’s original venture,

What began as a startup to sell brand name jeans and sneakers online in Africa, has pivoted to a global e-commerce fulfillment business partially owned by logistics giant DHL.

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