ClusterTruck co-founder Chris Baggott and restaurant executive Meredith Sandland, co-author of Delivering the Digital Restaurant, have launched Empower Delivery, a new software company enabling restaurants to “profitably and sustainably” service off-premises demand.
Funded by Allos Ventures and High Alpha Capital, the Empower Delivery system includes capabilities for the main ingredients in a restaurant delivery order: the consumer, the kitchen and the driver. With native first-party ordering, loyalty and marketing, the company says it can deliver a seamless consumer journey.
Its functionality includes “smart fire times,” kitchen display system orchestration and expo management, all designed to help delivery-forward kitchens operate quietly and efficiently. Its driver app is tuned to keep drivers busy and happy, with food that’s promptly delivered at a lower cost than traditional outsourced options.
The Empower Delivery system claims to solve the complexity, cost and poor experiences that delivery-optimized and ghost-kitchen restaurants face. Empower Delivery labels itself as an end-to-end solution for food delivery, controlling the entire process. With access to the full picture, the system uses data from each part of the process to inform decisions that optimize everything. This holistic architecture can have a significant impact on quality, speed, food and labor costs.
Said Sandland, “[Empower Delivery Co-Founder] Chris Baggott and his team have been consistently building a digitally-native solution to the changing consumer demand for [off-premises], restaurant-quality meals. The system that enabled ClusterTruck to achieve its results is inspiring to all restaurants, and the opportunity to lead industry-wide access to the software that powers it is incredible. Consumers want the convenience of digital ordering and delivery fulfillment, and their options today make them sacrifice value, time or quality to access that convenience. We can’t wait to bring this solution to digitally-focused restaurant companies who have been wrestling with how to best serve the consumer using the current dominant high-cost, no-control models.”
Prior to ClusterTruck, Baggot founded Exact Target and Compendium, which was acquired by Salesforce for $2.5 billion and later acquired by Oracle for more than $870 million.
Drawing on his experience as a software innovator and accidental restaurateur, Baggott developed his vision for ClusterTruck after observing how unsustainable an incremental approach to delivery was for many restaurants. The software that has been the key to ClusterTruck’s success is now available to restaurant groups who want to take control of their off-premise delivery business.
“The restaurant delivery market is starting to mature towards more purpose-built, delivery-centric kitchens. Restaurants are realizing the opportunity to make more money while delivering a best-in-class experience and better value to their guests. For hospitality-focused restaurateurs, this is the tool that enables them to serve their fans on delivery occasions without sacrificing their brand or guest relationship,” Baggott said. “Restaurants deserve to make money on their delivery efforts. Consumers deserve fast, fresh, hot food at a low delivery fee. Drivers deserve a great gig.”
ClusterTruck COO Brian Howenstein, who is joining Empower Delivery as chief product officer, said, “We had to go back to first principles to make delivery a profitable business–not just incremental. To truly revolutionize delivery, we had to build our own kitchen, because nothing like this had been built before. Building the software system from the ground up allowed us to enable a business that wasn’t previously possible.”
The software has been used at ClusterTruck, delivering over three million orders during the last six years.
“We could not have made such an elegant solution without designing the software hand-in-hand with our restaurant operations. But now it’s time to share the results of that hard work with the restaurant industry,” Baggott added. “The performance of ClusterTruck, driven by its software, was too good to keep to ourselves.”
ClusterTruck spin off
Baggot tapped co-founder and ClusterTruck CTO Dan McFadden to commercialize the Empower Delivery software, splitting their business into two companies: the ClusterTruck restaurant business and the Empower Delivery software business.
“Building ClusterTruck has been the most fun I’ve ever had professionally,” McFadden said. “Not having an ounce of restaurant experience prior gave me a blank slate to create a system that was unlike any other. I was not limited by the way it’s always been done. Running a business on software you wrote gives you a lot of control and perspective that others do not have. I cannot wait to see our system empower others to take back control of delivery.”
ClusterTruck will continue to operate its multi-unit restaurant group, and will license its brands and operating model to other foodservice companies. Empower Delivery will offer the software in a SaaS model.
“We are thrilled to partner with this experienced leadership and engineering team as they simplify and streamline the restaurant technology stack,” said David Kerr, lead investor from Allos.