Czech Choice Nabs USD 2.5M to Facilitate Restaurant Business in 4 New CEE Markets

  • Prague-based SaaS Choice attracted USD 2.5M of Seed Investment
  • The startup offers a one-stop shop platform for all customer-facing operations at restaurants
  • The new funding will cover Choice’s rapid scaling in 4 new markets

This February, Czech FoodTech B2B SaaS Choice closed its new Seed round of USD 2.5M. The lead investor of the round was J&T Ventures, and other participants included the well-known Czech VCs Reflex Capital (invested in Keboola, for example), and Presto Ventures (invested in Wempler, among others).

HoReCa Crossover

Alex Ilyash, Founder and CEO at Choice

Choice was started in 2020. For its founder Alex Ilyash, it’s not the first startup in the HoReCa sector: his DAVINCI travel system serves 10,000 hotels in 900 cities across Europe. Founded in 2016, it is a B2B SaaS for managing group reservations at hotels.

‘We’ve been in touch with Alex for a while, following his past business endeavors. Quickly, it became clear to us he’s got what it takes to become one of the most well-rounded founders in the local market,’ Presto Ventures’ founder and managing partner Přemysl Rubeš tells ITKeyMedia.

Seeing how most hotels have restaurants and the two businesses are naturally intertwined, Mr Ilyash’s entrepreneurial eye was constantly probing the restaurant area. He admits that it was fairly easy for him to spot the missing points.

Front-End One-Stop Shop and Customer Data

Přemysl Rubeš, Founder and Managing Partner at Presto Ventures

‘POS and cash register systems primarily automate and digitize restaurant’s back-office operations, activities related to internal operations of the restaurant. At Choice, we focus on covering everything related to the restaurant-and-guest communication, becoming their main solution for the front-office operations. We simply had a great team, no strong competitor, and decided that this was our chance,’ Mr Ilyash says.

Choice is an all-in-one platform that covers all the front-end needs of a restaurant:

  • Website builder
  • Front-store for Takeaway and Delivery 
  • Table reservations
  • QR payments and orders
  • Loyalty programs
  • Marketplaces integration (e.g. with Bolt, Uber Eats, etc.)

The added value of Choice lies in the data that it can collect. Choice’s surveys revealed that restaurants are desperate to know their guests, their habits and allergies etc. in order to scale customer retention, and Choice helps out in this direction as well. Mr Ilyash shares that his company may utilize AI to analyze it and provide market insights to the restaurants at some point in the future.

‘Choice offers complex products that cover all restaurant needs, compared to competitive products that only focus on certain features. This combination creates a distinguishing USP which makes Choice the number-one choice,’ J&T Ventures’ managing partner Adam Kocik explains.

Investors’ Confidence and Numbers

Michal Taborsky, Partner at Reflex Capital

‘At Presto, we look for grit and perseverance, coupled with a stellar business acumen and top-notch people skills. That said, these qualities rarely come together in one person. We can confidently say that betting on Alex was the right c(C)hoice,’ Mr Rubeš expands upon the pun.

For Reflex Capital, it is the third investment in Choice. The VC’s partner Michal Tabosky praises Mr Ilyash’s exceptional entrepreneurship: ‘He got knocked down twice: first he had a travel business company, which got hit hard by Covid, second was with Choice, because he had a large customer base in both Russia and Ukraine. But both times, he did not panic, he rebuilt what was lost and came back stronger. Choice is growing at an amazing rate and we are happy to be part of their journey.’

Indeed, the startup reports a whopping 300% growth rate over the past year. As of now, Choice works with more than 5,000 paying clients, comprising 16,000 restaurants in 8 countries. Over 2 million orders with a total worth of USD 42M were made at Choice’s partner restaurants in 2023.

Further CEE Expansion

Adam Kocaik, Managing Partner at J&T Ventures

In view of the new investment, Choice aims to scale the service to four new CEE markets and continue growing in the existing strong markets – namely Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine. WIth this goal, the company is actively recruiting sales representatives and account managers across all the relevant geographies.

According to Mr Ilyash, Choice is set to hire 100+ employees (in addition to the current 120+) in 2024. This should help the company reach the clientele of 500 restaurants in each new market within the first year of operations and 3,000 within 3 years.

‘We’ll certainly hear a lot more about them,’ Mr Rubeš is convinced.


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