UK-Based Compass Group Acquires Indian Foodtech Startup SmartQ

The India unit of UK-based Compass Group, which claims to be the world’s largest contract foodservice company, has secured a majority stake in Bengaluru-based foodtech startup SmartQ. Founded in 2014, SmartQ offers digital services for cafeteria management, corporate gifting, and more.

The acquisition will allow Compass India to build and deploy similar solutions across its client base, as part of the company’s “return to work” strategy for business growth.

Founded by Krishna Wage and Abhishek Ashok, SmartQ offers services such as contactless prepaid cards, a centralized billing system for cafeterias and canteens, point-of-sale software, and automated billing kiosks. It works towards improving cafeteria and food-court experiences by removing queues and reducing wait time for customers or employees.

As employees return to work, Compass India will use SmartQ’s technology offerings such as the mobile app for ordering food at the workplace, cashier-less cafeteria, self-ordering kiosks, and PoS solutions along with cloud-controlled menu display systems at workplaces.

The company has begun deploying these solutions and will soon be launching them in Compass Group’s client base in the UK, India, and New Zealand with plans to add the USA, Japan, and Singapore by end of this year.

Dev Amritesh, managing director for Compass Group India said, “The workforce in India today is increasingly made up of people who have either grown up or are deeply accustomed to personal technology. They are our core consumers and are driving a change in the way we operate contract food services to meet their needs. We want to be at the forefront of this change, continually leading innovation and reinventing our service and experience model.”

Tech solutions that offer smooth, enhanced experiences like menu discovery, pre-ordering, payment, and post-order support have become a very important part of the food experience at work, he added.

SmartQ last announced a $1-million fundraising from a group of Dubai-based investors in 2018. Existing investor YourNest also participated in the round. IN 2018, SmartQ had acquired Nexus Venture Partners-backed Goodbox’s cafeteria business, however, the amount of the acquisition remains undisclosed.

SmartQ competes with companies like HungerBox and Sodexo. HungerBox has investments from Paytm and investors such as Sabre Partners and Neoplux. It raised $12 million in December.